See if I care.
I speak in this vague, general way about of rise in popularity of vampires and their rivals and relatives, such as werewolves, zombies and mummies.
With movies like “Zombieland” and “New Moon” parading through local cinemas, such supernatural creatures have flickered across the Greater Garden Grove-Stanton-Westminster area, but I’m not afraid of them. Truth is, I’ve been battling vampires and their ilk since I was 9 or 10, and none of them has ever gotten the better of me.
On Channel 11 each Saturday was a TV show that screened a low-budget monster movie. My sister June and I watched it regularly and thereby learned a lot about the world of horrible monsters, ranging from radioactive lizard-men (“The Hideous Sun-Demon”) to overfed insects (“Mothra”).
Different monsters, of course, required different defenses. Mummies hung out in Egypt mostly, so staying out of the Pyramids seemed like a small price to pay in exchange for safety from their ilk.
Vampires were only allowed out at night, but that was OK since we weren’t allowed out at night, and there was enough garlic in our diets to knock Tom Cruise on his keister.
Werewolves only came out during a full moon, which really limited their career opportunities. And we also believed that dogs could detect werewolves, being some kind of distant relative, so if you kept a canine on guard duty on moonlit nights, you would at least have some advance warning.
For protection against werewolves and other creepies, I had next to (or under it) the bed a baseball bat, my Boy Scout flashlight and a scapular. For those of you not raised Catholic, a scapular is a device made out of two small pieces of fabric, sewed together and joined with a long strip of cloth and worn like an ID tag.
I’m sure that many of the theological nuances of the scapular escaped us, but the nuns at St. Columbans told us that wearing the scapular would protect us from evil and harm. It’s not that I was skeptical, but since it had an uneven record against bullies and older brothers, the potency of the scapular against the likes of Dracula was not totally accepted.
Of course, today’s vampires have been upgraded for a modern audience. They’re sleek and sexy and remarkably well-dressed. They can prance around in the daylight and have all kinds of other super-powers, including hair that never gets out of place.
What the makers of these films conveniently leave out is that while the vampires have gotten stronger in some areas, the immutable laws of nature have created more weakness to balance that out.
So the next time some supernatural creature is menacing you, try one of these new 21st century techniques:
• tune in your iPod to Disney Radio … the sound of that music will freeze the blood of any vampire as soon as he touches you.
• set up a video camera a la “Paranormal Activities” and offer the bad guy 25 percent of the gross.
• hand him a copy of Sarah Palin’s new book “Going Rogue” and watch him flee. There’s scary and there’s reaaaaallly scary.
— Jim Tortolano