What, Wolf asks, makes vampires so attractive today? He notes in his cogent Introduction that vampire tales draw from the gruesome in mainstream horror, the pulsing eroticism of bodice rippers, the supernatural in sword-and-sorcery. But blood is the primary metaphor, Wolf says, drawing on folk knowledge and traditions from Cain and Abel to Christ and transubstantiation, while the modern blood exchange brings on a kind of sexual dream- bliss beyond the facts of intercourse. Illustrating the classic adventure tale is Wolf's exciting excerpt from Stephen King's only vampire novel, Salem's Lot (1975), with good guy Mark versus a whole townful of bloodsuckers. Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman's "Luella Miller" draws the "psychological vampire" as a thief of energy rather than a blood drinker. The science-fiction vampire in C.L. Moore's "Shambleau" indulges in monstrous, slimy couplings, while the immortal woman in the excerpt from Whitley Streiber's erotically powerful "The Hunger" blesses her victims with lives that last for 200 years. The nonhuman vampire in Hanns Heinz Ewers's "The Spider," a beautiful woman in a window, hypnotizes her victims into the supreme delight of suicide (she is, literally, a spider). The heroic vampire in Anne Rice's "The Master of Rampling Gate" remains invisible except to the heroine. Also on hand: Joyce Carol Oates, John Cheever, and E.F. Benson. And don't miss Woody Allen's "Count Dracula."
A bedtime book with a bite to it.