Friday, March 6, 2015

Outfoxing the Vampire Hunter

Don't worry, Basil's still with us. (Photo: City Varieties)

Forty five years ago, Sean Manchester and David Farrant made the Hampstead & Highgate Express's front page with a question readers didn't even know they'd asked: "Why Do the Foxes Die?" (March 6, 1970).

That question will be explored further in an upcoming article for my website, Vamped, which also features an article Erin Chapman and I worked on together called: "5 Reasons Why a Wampyr Didn't Walk in Highgate" (Feb. 27, 2015).

In it, Erin and I discovered that Manchester had little to no clue about Highgate Cemetery's geography, which means he's either a grossly incompetent investigator (at the time, he was supposedly President of the British Occult Society), or a grossly incompetent fraud who couldn't get his story straight. Take your pick.

Coincidentally, the article was finished in time for the 45th anniversary of Manchester broadcasting his vampire theory through the Hampstead & Highgate Express's cover story: "Does a Wampyr Walk in Highgate?" (Feb. 27, 1970).

We can count that date as the Highgate Vampire's birthday; after all, there was no reliable record of any vampire hauntings in the cemetery prior that date. Which I guess also makes Manchester its daddy. They certainly look alike, but that might not be so coincidental.

Podcast radio host, Don Ecker, relates the following account told to him by an unidentified person, told by another unidentified person, who knew the "in's and out's" of the case, explaining how Manchester was able to create the "decomposing vampire" shots featured in his 1985 book, The Highgate Vampire and the 1991 revised edition (Ecker n.d., [20–1]):
Well David [Farrant] has maintained all along that it's Manchester himself under the make up, but he didn't know how the effect was created. This new witness explained that when he had asked Manchester back in the 70's with a lot of praise for the effect, Manchester explained how he did it. Now it's important that you realize that Manchester had a photographic studio at the time; something he brags about given the chance and a knowledge of photography.

The film is basically time lapse photography played in reverse.
Manchester had a watery flour mixture on his face and a heater & fan set up nearby.The heat source melted the mixture and the fan blew it off of his face.Once the time lapse photography was finished, the effect was played in reverse.

As the frame rate was so stilted, you wouldn't be able to see the blow off effect but simply a very basic face morph.

It is a set a 3 pictures from his home movie, that made their way into his book and on his own website.
3 very grainy pictures from someone who is supposed to be a professional photographer. The reason that they are so small, is that blowing up a cine film still, would leave too many artifacts in frame that would give the game away as to their origin.

It's also why he refuses to allow people to host these pictures and threatens them with legal action (copyright) if they do not remove them from their websites.
Chilling Effects, a website that houses online copyright notices, testifies to Manchester's proclivity for reporting people either under his own name, or the name of his vanity publisher, Gothic Press. Yet Manchester sees no double standard flagrantly stealing creative works from other people, as his penchant for plagiarism reveals.

In the meantime, can view a version of the photos from Manchester's website, which he's partially obscured with terribly distorted Photoshop effects ("Highgate Vampire Picture Gallery" n.d.).

I'd share the image itself here, but Manchester's particularly keen on suppressing criticism, as demonstrated by his recent actions against Erin Chapman's article "Seeking Vampires in London" (Nov. 16, 2014), where he contacted my website's host and forced the removal of two photos that prove he had misidentified two Highgate Cemetery locations. Erin and I have challenged Manchester's claim on "fair use" grounds (Hogg 2014).

Fair use gives you "the right to reproduce or to authorize others to reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords," which is considered "fair" under certain contexts "such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research" (U.S. Copyright Office n.d.)

Manchester also recently tried to force Faustian Circle, who writes a blog of the same name, to remove two posts from his site after Manchester had been rumbled by commentators for using his "B.O.S." alias and in the wake of a series of incriminating phone transcripts between Manchester and Farrant, which were posted by Farrant on the blog. Faustian Circle wrote (2015):
We have received a message from Sean Manchester requesting that we remove both articles: "THE HIGHGATE VAMPIRE HUNTERS" and "THE HIGHGATE VAMPIRE HUNTERS: READER'S COMMENTS - PART 2".

We replied: "Wouldn't it be better to respond to the articles and comments about yourself in the comments section of the articles, as you or your representative 'B.O.S.' (British Occult Society) have done so far? In the interests of free speech and debate we are extremely reluctant to remove the articles in question."

If the articles are removed due to a DNS action via the internet, readers of this blog will know why.
Further transcripts have followed, Sean "B.O.S." Manchester has not added any further comments, clearly crestfallen that his usual suppressive tactics have not worked this time. Score one for free speech!


Chapman, Erin. 2014. "Seeking Vampires in London." Vamped (blog), Nov. 16. Accessed March 6, 2015.

———. 2015. "5 Reasons Why a Wampyr Didn't Walk in Highgate." Vamped (blog), Feb. 27. Accessed March 6, 2015.

Ecker, Don. n.d. "My Inquiry into the Highgate Vampire Case." The Paracast. Accessed March 6, 2015.

Faustian Circle. 2015. Comment on "The Highgate Vampire Hunters: Reader's Comments - Part 2," by Faustian Circle, February 17, 2015 at 13:53. The Faustian Circle, Feb. 4. Accessed March 6, 2015.

"Highgate Vampire Picture Gallery." n.d. English Gothic. Accessed March 6, 2015.

Hogg, Anthony. 2014. "'Vampire Hunter' Hammers Stake Through Article." Vamped (blog), Nov. 27. Accessed March 6, 2015.

U.S. Copyright Office. n.d. "Fair Use.", reviewed June 2012. Accessed March 6, 2015.

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