Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Mystery of Luisa, Pt. 3


In "The Mystery of Luisa, Pt. 2", we saw how certain parallels can be drawn between Sean Manchester's The Highgate Vampire: The Infernal World of the Undead Unearthed at London's Famous Highgate Cemetery and Environs (London: British Occult Society, 1985) to Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897).

I also concluded that article thusly, "Indeed, as we shall see, the mysterious Luisa and her vampiric manifestation has further parallels to another work of fiction."

Now we're going to take a look at that other fictional work: Dennis Wheatley's The Devil Rides Out.

Originally published in 1934, it proved to be a best-seller in its day. And, most significantly for this article, it was adapted into an eponymous film by Hammer in 1968.

The following video clip is a scene from the film. It is mostly based on Chapter 27 of the book, "Within the Pentacle". The section I'd like to draw attention to, occurs at 8:15-10:00.





Here, we see Duc de Richleau (Christopher Lee) and his friends beseiged by demonic manifestations, while under the protection of a magic circle.

One of these manifestations takes the form of a giant spider.



What does this have to do with Manchester's account?

If we read page 145 of The Highgate Vampire, we have a peculiar manifestation of the undead "Luisa" taking place. After Manchester has summoned her through a necromantic ritual, he sees this:

It was the most enormous spider imaginable. In that light it appeared to compare to the size of a full grown cat amd was slowly edging towards the rim of charcoal powder.
After recovering his senses from this ghastly sight, he sees fit to throw a "burning torch at the monstrous black arachnid."

This doesn't quite stop the demonic spider though:

Slowly it reached the edge of my protective circle; then, quickening its pace, it scurried back and forth in the most terrifying manner around the perimeter.
He demands it to "be still" and, amazingly, it stops "in its tracks".

The opportunity is then used to stake this foul creature and, as Manchester asserts, "Something wet and glutinous oozed stickily as I pressed the stake still further."

As dawn arrives, he looks to see "Luisa" embedded with the stake, in the spot where the spider had been.

Do you see the similarities between Manchester's account and the scene from the movie you have watched?

But how can we back up this assertion? Is this a mere coincidence? Well, let's go back to Wheatley's book.

Interestingly, no spider manifests itself in the demonic assult on the magic circle. Instead, they are presented with something far more horrifying.

The following passage is taken from the Row Books/Arrow Books Ltd 1970 reprint:

A dim phosphorescent blob began to glow in the darkness; shimmering and spreading into a great hummock, its outline gradually became clearer. It was not a man form nor yet an animal, but heaved there on the floor like some monstrous living sack. It had no eyes or face but from it there radiated a terrible malefic intelligence.

Suddenly there ceased to be anything ghostlike about it. The Thing had a whitish pimply skin, leprous and unclean, like some huge silver slug. Waves of satanic power rippled through its spineless body, causing it to throb and work continually like a great mass of new-made dough. A horrible stench of decay and corruption filled the room; for as it writhed it exuded a slimy poisonous moisture which trickled in little rivulets across the polished floor. It was solid, terribly real, a living thing. They could even see long, single, golden hairs, separated from each other by ulcerous patches of skin, quivering and waving as they rose on end from its flabby body-and suddenly it began to laugh at them, a low, horrid, chuckling laugh.
So, the book can be pretty much ruled out for the giant spider manifestation. But, do we have any other proof for the movie being a possible source of "inspiration"?

If we turn to page 140 of The Highgate Vampire, we see a still from a 1968 movie, along with the following caption:

This scene from The Devil Rides Out depicts the use of a Magic Circle to withstand attack by a Satanic force, much like the protective barrier cast by the author and many others throughout history
Coincidence, or a knowing wink to the reader?

You be the judge.

14 comments:

Demonologist said...

I am sure you could do the same for Farrant were he to stick to a consistent story for just once in his life!

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=23027259305#/topic.php?uid=73252286004&topic=13539

Dennis Wheatley was an honorary member of Seán Manchester's British Occult Society and Peter Underwood's The Ghost Club (later renamed the Ghost Club Society). Wheatley was all too familiar with demonic phenomena and drew upon his experience and knowledge when writing his novel The Devil Rides Out, as did Bram Stoker with Dracula, as did Seán Manchester with Carmel: A Vampire Tale. That does not preclude it actually happening. Wheatley was familiar with occult ceremony and satanic ritual. Stoker was familiar with vampire folklore. It should come as no surprise to the experienced demonologist to discover such things manifest in real life.

The Overseer said...

Do you have a non-VRS source that confirms Wheatley's involvement in the British Occult Society?

Secondly, you seem to miss the point of the blog entry.

We're not talking about mere similarities in occultish manifestations here...but key plot points.

More than that, the "plot point" in question seems to be borrowed from the filmed adaptation of The Devil Rides Out more than the book itself.

Frankly, I find it a bit too much of a coincidence that Manchester includes a still from the movie in his book.

Also, Stoker wasn't as familiar with vampire folklore as you insinuate. Hell, he made up a lot of it himself (not that there's anything wrong with that. After all, he was writing a novel). This can be established from the writings of Elizabeth Miller.

Demonologist said...

Peter Underwood can confirm this, but, like anyone else I identify, he is not exactly a non-VRS source. The trouble is that most sources are now dead and those who are not are linked to the VRS, having previously been linked to the BOS. There are Dennis Wheatley's papers, I suppose, which would reveal his membership of the British Occult Society, which was not "Seán Manchester's British Occult Society"; it was the members' British Occult Society. Seán Manchester was merely that organisation's last president before its dissolution in 1988.

If things can happen, they can happen more than once. Truth is stranger than fiction, as Dennis Wheatley was always reminding his readers. The still picture from "The Devil Rides Out" was included in the first edition of "The Highgate Vampire" (British Occult Society, 1985) precisely because of the similarity between what occurred in Wheatley's story and real life. Why would an author draw attention to the movie if he was inventing the whole thing?

I do not agree with your view of Bram Stoker "not being familiar with vampire folklore" and certainly do not share your admiration for Elizabeth Miller who is not anywhere near as expert as you might believe. The Vampire Research Society has had several confrontational run-ins with Elizabeth Miller who has her own personal agenda and allegiances in the subculture. She has been found wanting on a number of occasions.

For example, Elizabeth Miller’s treatise on the novel Dracula in the year 2000 refers to what readers are told is an argument put forward by Seán Manchester, but, in fact, is a quote from established error in Carol Page’s "Blood Lust" published nine years earlier. Amazingly, Elizabeth Miller wrote to the Vampire Research Society on 18 July 2000, saying:

“As for quoting from Carol Page, I suspected her book was not reliable, which is why I made it quite clear that your remarks were ‘as quoted in’ her book. That is the accepted method of handling such situations in the scholarly community.”

However, it is by no means clear. No mention is made in the text (where this quote appears) of either Carol Page’s book, or, moreover, that it is unreliable.

Seán Manchester responded to Elizabeth Miller’s publisher:

“Why on earth did this woman use a source which, by her own admission, is unreliable when she could have contacted me to be told what she wanted to know? This, at least, is the accepted method of handling such situations in the literary community.”

This is merely the tip of an iceberg of misinformation originating with Elizabeth Miller.

The Overseer said...

Yes, Peter Underwood confirms it. A VRS affiliate.

So, in other words, you have no outside sources that can confirm Wheatley's membership in the BOS. Interesting.

As to including the still from The Devil Rides Out (1968), that's just the thing: it wasn't from Wheatley's story, it was from Richard Matheson's screenplay.

As my blog entry reveals, the manifestation described in Wheatley's novel, was quite different from the giant spider depicted in the movie.

Why would the author draw attention to the movie if he was inventing the whole thing?

Ever heard of criminals leaving calling cards behind?

The still's inclusion, by the way, is right up there with the "model" he uses for Luisa in the first edition. Strangely, the first edition does not even disclose this.

As to Bram Stoker "not being familiar with vampire folklore", what I actually said was: "wasn't as familiar with vampire folklore as you insinuate."

His primary source on vampire folklore appears to be Mayo's letter on "Vamyprism" in On the Truths Contained in Popular Superstition (1851) and Emily Gerard's article on "Transylvanian Superstitions".

As I noted, he even took recourse to inventing vampire lore, himself. Which isn't a bad thing, as his book isn't a factual documentation of vampire occurrences, but a novel.

In defense of Elizabeth Miller, it goes without saying that she displays far more scholarly nous than you do.

As to reproducing claims about Manchester's theories on who Bram Stoker based Dracula on (I'm going to presume that's what you're referring to, since you don't bother to properly even cite or specify what you're saying), let's look at what Manchester actually says in his book...in a new blog entry!

The Overseer said...

And, for your viewing pleasure, Deme, I proudly present..."Manchester Vs. Miller"!

Demonologist said...

Are you now intimating that Seán Manchester is a "criminal"?

There was a criminal who tried to insinuate himself into the Highgate Vampire scenario, but it was not Seán Manchester.

You seem to enjoy confrontation for confrontation's sake, which might explain why I am the only person commenting and why you have no followers.

The Overseer said...

Deme,

I was not intimating that Manchester is a criminal. Even if he has previously admitted to trespassing (see his account of the vigil at Kirklees), breaking into burial vaults and such. I was more referring to a modus operandi.

As to you being the only person commenting on my blog, well, that's not true. Lone Stranger occasionally comments. And if we count your other usernames like Gothic and Vampirologist, I guess we could add those to the list.

As to not having any followers...well, considering you follow your own just to make up the numbers, I consider that a compliment.

Also, who's been commenting on your blogs?

Ah, that's right. No-one.

Demonologist said...

My blogs are not designed for comments. They exist to counter the constant barrage of misinformation put out by Farrant and those who join in his vendetta to publish defamation about Seán Manchester and mislead about the activities of his research society.

"Trespass," as described in the account of a vigil held in an open, albeit privately owned, space is not "criminal" in the UK. The same cannot be said of the incursion by Farrant and his collaborators fifteen years later where a pseudo-occult ritual took place over the grave in question with photographs being sent (sold?) to the Brighouse Echo by the group of publicity-seeking bandwagoneers.

Seán Manchester has not admitted into breaking into a burial vault. This is an oft-repeated falsehood by Farrant who was convicted in 1974 for malicious vandalism and desecration at Highgate Cemetery.

Seán Manchester entered a vault in August 1970 with the permission of the private cemetery company who owned Highgate Cemetery at the time. He did so in broad daylight (unlike Farrant who invaded the graveyard in the dead of night) to conduct a spoken exorcism and inspect the contents of the vault which entrance was not locked. So there can be no accusation of "breaking" in which indeed would have been criminal.

The Overseer said...

Your blogs are designed for comments, as you haven't shut the comment function off. I even noticed you deleted a comment off one of them, too.

So, your blogs exist to spread propaganda on Farrant (they're obviously not for discussion, considering you say they're not for commenting).

Now, you see how this is silly for two reasons: 1) you're giving further publicity to Farrat, 2) you don't have the authority to speak on the Bishop's behalf.

Thus, your blogs are essentially hot air.

So you admit that Manchester trespassed. Cool.

So when Manchester conducted his vampire-hunting "vigil", that wasn't criminal, but when Farrant and co had their lil' laying-to-rest-the-spirit-of-Robin Hood gathering...that was?

Hmmm...

Manchester didn't admit to breaking into the burial vault? That's funny, because according to his book, he climbed into one through the ceiling. Why not use the front door?

I'd be very surprised that the private cemetery company gave Manchester permission to lurk around the burial vaults looking for vampires. Especially, as in one instance, he was prepared to stake an occupant of one of the tombs through the heart.

Care to reproduce this permission Manchester was allegedly given?

Demonologist said...

"So, your blogs exist to spread propaganda on Farrant[?]"

No. As previously stated, they exist to counter the constant barrage of misinformation put out by Farrant.

"Now, you see how this is silly for two reasons: 1) you're giving further publicity to Farrat [sic], 2) you don't have the authority to speak on the Bishop's behalf."

My intention is to help set the record straight. Farrant is a publicity-seeker. He will achieve publicity at other people's expense regardless of what I do.

You have no no way of knowing whether what I do has the "authority" or not of Bishop Seán Manchester.

"So you admit that Manchester trespassed."

I have made no such admission.

"So when Manchester conducted his vampire-hunting vigil, that wasn't criminal, but when Farrant and co had their lil' laying-to-rest-the-spirit-of-Robin Hood gathering...that was?"

Yes. Except that Seán Manchester's vigil was not a "vampire-hunting vigil." It was a vigil to determine what the nature of the disturbances might be. Conducting an occult ceremony over a private grave on private land where a Priory once stood could be in breach of the Ecclesiatical Courts Jurisdiction Act of 1860 and is a criminal offence. There's also other laws and by-laws to cover this behaviour. Selling a photograph of this ceremony, as happened when Barbara Green sold a copy to the Brighouse Echo, is also a potential offence. The video filming of the unlawful grave ceremony by Red Monkey Films would be deemed illegal, which would explain why their footage from April 2005 has never surfaced.

Even if it was decided that holding a vigil involved trespass, and, by the way, no one made any such decision on the occasion Seán Manchester held his vigil, trespass is not a criminal offence. It is a civil offence.

"Manchester didn't admit to breaking into the burial vault? That's funny, because according to his book, he climbed into one through the ceiling. Why not use the front door?"

You are confusing two separate incidents. Seán Manchester entered the burial vault through the door. Five months earlier he had descended into the terrace catacombs through a skylight in the roof above. Visitors could walk along what was actually the roof to the catacombs beneath. Two skylights, one at either end, existed in this roof area.

"I'd be very surprised that the private cemetery company gave Manchester permission."

They nevertheless did give him consent to conduct a spoken exorcism.

"Care to reproduce this permission Manchester was allegedly given?"

Why are you asking me to reproduce something which is not my property?

Why do you put questions about Seán Manchester to people other than Seán Manchester? Why not put your questions to him?

The Overseer said...

"No. As previously stated, they exist to counter the constant barrage of misinformation put out by Farrant."

Well, that's the thing. How can it be classed as "misinformation"? How do you validate/invalidate your own claims? I maintain that you don't have the authority to do so, on the Bishop's behalf.

"My intention is to help set the record straight. Farrant is a publicity-seeker. He will achieve publicity at other people's expense regardless of what I do."

Yet, you are a large part of generating the publicity as well. You and the Bishop's ilk. Whereas the Bish, ahem, chooses to ignore him, he has pseudo-reps like yourself still banging on about it. Why not follow his example and keep mum?

"You have no no way of knowing whether what I do has the "authority" or not of Bishop Seán Manchester."

Actually, I do. For one thing, why would the Bish allow your actions if his public stance is to lie low and "ignore" it? That's being a tad two-faced, isn't it?

"I have made no such admission."

That's ok, Manchester admits it himself in his own article.

"Yes. Except that Seán Manchester's vigil was not a "vampire-hunting vigil." It was a vigil to determine what the nature of the disturbances might be."

Yes, except one of those suspicions was that the "disturbances" were caused by a vampire. Hence the anti-vampire gear, ya see.

"Conducting an occult ceremony over a private grave on private land where a Priory once stood could be in breach of the Ecclesiatical Courts Jurisdiction Act of 1860 and is a criminal offence. There's also other laws and by-laws to cover this behaviour."

Yep, right up there with trespassing.

"Selling a photograph of this ceremony, as happened when Barbara Green sold a copy to the Brighouse Echo, is also a potential offence. The video filming of the unlawful grave ceremony by Red Monkey Films would be deemed illegal, which would explain why their footage from April 2005 has never surfaced."

And how about writing an article about trespassing and having it published in a magazine, as per The Unexplained? Did Manchester not get paid for this?

E"ven if it was decided that holding a vigil involved trespass, and, by the way, no one made any such decision on the occasion Seán Manchester held his vigil, trespass is not a criminal offence. It is a civil offence."

Which police can get involved in.

"You are confusing two separate incidents. Seán Manchester entered the burial vault through the door. Five months earlier he had descended into the terrace catacombs through a skylight in the roof above. Visitors could walk along what was actually the roof to the catacombs beneath. Two skylights, one at either end, existed in this roof area."

And I take it visitors were allowed to "investigate" said tombs and attempt to stake the occupants inside?

"They nevertheless did give him consent to conduct a spoken exorcism."

But not to attempt to stake a vampire, I'm sure.

"Why are you asking me to reproduce something which is not my property?"

Because you're the one making the claim in the first place. Thus, I'd expect you to have proof to back it up.

"Why do you put questions about Seán Manchester to people other than Seán Manchester? Why not put your questions to him?"

Will do. At least he has some kind of authority over stuff that relates to him, as opposed to you ;)

Demonologist said...

"Well, that's the thing. How can it be classed as 'misinformation'? How do you validate/invalidate your own claims? I maintain that you don't have the authority to do so, on the Bishop's behalf."

My rebuttals to the misinformation being put out are based on first-hand archived reports and the public record. I no more need Seán Manchester's "authority" to refute falsehood than you or anyone else need Farrant's consent to repeat false allegations.

"Yet, you are a large part of generating the publicity as well. You and the Bishop's ilk. Whereas the Bish, ahem, chooses to ignore him, he has pseudo-reps like yourself still banging on about it. Why not follow his example and keep mum?"

Ditto. Why don't you? You are still "banging on" about these matters since you first began years ago. Yet you live on the other side of the world and were not even born when pandemonium first broke out at Highgate. One might understand your fascination lasting a few months, maybe a year or two, but this is turning into a life-long obsession. I, at least, have the excuse of first-hand involvement as a member of the VRS.

"Why would the Bish allow your actions if his public stance is to lie low and 'ignore' it? That's being a tad two-faced, isn't it?"

What I do and what Seán Manchester does is up to each of us. Your presumption that he "ignores" these matters is obviously flawed. I refer you, for example, to page 70 of the current issue of Fortean Times magazine (#252) as evidence that he does not always ignore misleading claims and defamatory allaegations. Clearly he speaks out when he deems it necessary, but he equally has no desire to stoke a fire that has been started by arsonists and only benefits their destructive motives.

"Manchester admits it [trespass] himself in his own article."

Where? Please provide the source reference with a verbatim quote.

"Except one of those suspicions was that the 'disturbances' were caused by a vampire. Hence the anti-vampire gear, ya see."

What "anti-vampire gear"?

"How about writing an article about trespassing and having it published in a magazine, as per The Unexplained? Did Manchester not get paid for this?"

You will have to ask him whether he was reimbursed. The article in The Unexplained magazine was not about trespassing. It was about a mystery which had already become known in the media as the Kirklees Vampire and Seán Manchester's vigil attempt to penetrate that mystery. Trespass is not a criminal offence. It is a civil offence.

"Which police can get involved in."

Only where a crime (taking place or having occurred) is suspected. Trespass alone would not incur police involvement in the UK.

"I take it visitors were allowed to 'investigate' said tombs and attempt to stake the occupants inside?"

There was no plan to "stake the occupants inside" the tomb at Highgate Cemetery and no staking took place on that or any other occasion where Seán Manchester and his research society were involved.

"I'd expect you to have proof to back it up."

What "proof" do you provide to back up your allegations?

"At least he [Seán Manchester] has some kind of authority over stuff that relates to him, as opposed to you."

Indeed.

The Overseer said...

Response, Pt. 1:

"My rebuttals to the misinformation being put out are based on first-hand archived reports and the public record."

That is not entirely true. Especially when you delve into the minutiae of the Bishop's life. Not all of what you say is public record.

"I no more need Seán Manchester's "authority" to refute falsehood than you or anyone else need Farrant's consent to repeat false allegations."

You do when you present yourself as speaking on his behalf. It took you sometime to reveal you were even a VRS member. Thus, you have problems with disclosure, too. Not to mention a rather blatant bias.

"Ditto. Why don't you?"

Because your works largely exist to discredit Farrant as a "publicity-seeker". Well, if this is indeed his modus operandi, you're doing him damn good favour.

"You are still "banging on" about these matters since you first began years ago."

Yes, I am. However, my blog's aim isn't to viciously malign people. My blog doesn't exist to discredit Farrant. My aim is far more broader: that is, to encourage discussion on the Highgate fou-fou-ra.

"Yet you live on the other side of the world and were not even born when pandemonium first broke out at Highgate."

Ah, this stale argument. As I've pointed out before, you'd be discrediting a lot of history-writers and commentators by this logic. Also, regardless of whether one was alive at the time, there still is the matter of personal experience. Did you even take part in the original vampire investigation? You're strangely quiet on this matter. Unsurprisingly.

"One might understand your fascination lasting a few months, maybe a year or two, but this is turning into a life-long obsession."

Classic switch-and-bait tactic, there. Trying to paint me as someone "obsessed" to attempt to discredit my own writings. Obviously, they've touched a raw nerve with you, so they must be succeeded better than I thought.

"I, at least, have the excuse of first-hand involvement as a member of the VRS."

Actually, you're a copy-n-paste plagiarist/propagandist. That hardly makes you relevant to anything.

"What I do and what Seán Manchester does is up to each of us. Your presumption that he "ignores" these matters is obviously flawed."

Not really. He's previously said he's "dusted his sandals" of the Farrant business. His secretaries uphold that this is his stance.

Remember? He doesn't want to give Farrant any further publicity. Inevitably, however, and just like yourself, he can't help doing so and caves in.

"I refer you, for example, to page 70 of the current issue of Fortean Times magazine (#252) as evidence that he does not always ignore misleading claims and defamatory allaegations."

And this is a case-in-point.

More whinging about "defamation", but no real action about it except for a continuous stream of rebuttals and counter-allegations.

"Clearly he speaks out when he deems it necessary, but he equally has no desire to stoke a fire that has been started by arsonists and only benefits their destructive motives."

I guess that's why he wrote a whole "book" on it in 2007.

Generating further publicity for Farrant, I guess, is left to you guys.

"Where? Please provide the source reference with a verbatim quote."

No worries. You can read about my source in "Trespassing on Private Property".

"What "anti-vampire gear"?"

See above.

"You will have to ask him whether he was reimbursed."

Cheers. Will do.

The Overseer said...

Response, Pt. 2:

"Only where a crime (taking place or having occurred) is suspected. Trespass alone would not incur police involvement in the UK."

So I guess "looking for vampires" wouldn't cut it?

"There was no plan to "stake the occupants inside" the tomb at Highgate Cemetery and no staking took place on that or any other occasion where Seán Manchester and his research society were involved."

So I guess he was armed with such weaponry for the sake of it.

"What "proof" do you provide to back up your allegations?"

They're called: "citations". Try 'em sometime.

If material I refer to is online, then I also link to it.

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