Do The Undead Walk Among Us?
"The question is not, ARE THEY REAL? The question is "How do you deal with them?"
For most of us, the vampire is a fictional count who became a horror movie icon. But is there more to the legend than fiction? Do the undead actually walk among us? From a self-proclaimed modern-day blood drinking vampire, to a bishop who claims to have exorcized vampires and demons to experts in anthropology, archaeology, forensics, folklore and vampirism, National Geographic Channel′s IS IT REAL?: VAMPIRES sheds light on why this archetypal image has haunted us for so long.
Premiering Monday, October 23, 2006 at 8 p.m. ET/PT just in time for Halloween, IS IT REAL?: VAMPIRES applies modern-day forensic science to explore the myths, sightings and viability of this centuries-old legend of vampires. How is it that a corpse can actually exhibit living characteristics? What is the true story behind the Dracula legend? And are there really bloodsuckers among us today or just fanged aficionado wanna-bes?
Journey to a remote village in Romania, near the legendary home of Count Dracula, where six men were arrested for cutting out a corpse′s heart and burning it. They saw a bloodstain around his mouth. It was proof - he was a strigoi, a vampire. But was there a natural explanation for their ghastly discovery... or were the villagers right?
Then travel to Las Vegas, NV and witness a never-before-seen private ceremony as Don Henrie, a self-proclaimed modern-day vampire, calmly draws his girlfriend′s blood and drinks it from a glass. He′s had a need to drink blood since childhood. Could this pale young man with an appetite for blood have a medical condition? Can this be explained by science... or is he really a vampire? He undergoes a battery of medical tests to determine if there is a scientific basis for his cravings.
"Of all the monsters of literature and the movies, vampires are most attractive because they′re recognizably human," says Elizabeth Miller, Ph.D., a vampirism scholar. "And as a blood-drinker, Dracula taps into a complex cultural tradition...the importance of blood, the mystical qualities... it′s the essence of life."
The episode also explains how post-mortem decompositional changes could lead to belief in vampirism. After death, a corpse may become bloated and bodily liquids, like blood, are purged through the mouth and other orifices. A corpse may even seem like its producing sounds.
"Many times, if you open a casket, you hear a moaning or guttural groaning," explains Dr. Bill Rodriguez, a medical examiner with the Office of the Armed Forces. "Gases in the chest and abdominal cavity are physically forced out... producing an actual tone."
IS IT REAL?: VAMPIRES also examines the true story of young Mercy Brown, who might have been the inspiration for Bram Stoker′s legendary novel. The mystery takes us to the Romanian province of Transylvania where the real Dracula, a bloodthirsty noble who liked to impale his enemies, ruled in the 15th century.
Finally, meet England′s "go-to expert" for vampire exorcism who doesn′t question if vampires are real but "How do we deal with them?" Comments Reverend Sean Manchester of The Vampire Research Society (UK): Ò"When you′ve seen the real thing, when you′ve looked upon the actual vampire itself, it′s impossible to remove it from your psyche, from your consciousness."
In the end, is there a scientific explanation for the vampire legends? Are vampires actually a folklore explanation for a deadly disease? When faced with illness or epidemic, did generations past blame the dead and exorcise them as vampires to save the living? Or do vampires actually exist among us today? Find out this Halloween when NGC asks Is it Real?
In addition to Elizabeth Miller, Ph.D., Dr. Bill Rodgriguez and Rev. Sean Manchester, other experts featured include: Dr. Nick Bellantoni, Connecticut State Museum of Natural History; Lenore Branian, Ph.D., forensic anthropologist; Michael Bell, Ph.D., folklorist; and Nicholae Paduraru, historian, Transylvanian Society of Dracula (Romania).
IS IT REAL?: VAMPIRES is produced by National Geographic Television and Film (NGT&F) for the National Geographic Channel (NGC). Series Producer for NGT&F is Vicky Matthews. For NGC, Michael Cascio is Senior Vice President, Production. Executive-in-Charge of Production is John Ford.