History (the channel, that is) takes a break from UFO hunting to go Vampire hunting with this essential bit of history scholarship. I kid because I love.
"Vampire Secrets" is another example of the silly, superficial and slightly sensationalized specials that History churns out to fill in the gaps between weekly series such as "The Universe" and "Ice Road Truckers." As with most of these, the intent is to entertain, not to inform.
There's no historical information presented here that even the casual vampire aficionado wouldn't already know about. One thing I did learn, however, is that the infamous Elizabeth Bathory's last name is pronounced ‘Battory' or at least that's how narrator Corey Burton says it. Maybe he's just screwing with our heads.
Countess Bathory is the centerpiece of the show, and her appearance is teased before each commercial break (the commercials, of course, are omitted from the disc) until she finally shows up in all her gory glory. You really can't go wrong with a sadistic lesbian blood-drinking serial killer. Maybe she'll show up in the "Twilight" sequel. For those of you who don't know, Bathory was a 16th century Hungarian countess who allegedly tortured killed hundreds of young women and drank and bathed in their blood. This has earned her both the title of most prolific female serial killer, and a place in vampire lore that doesn't really make much sense. The only tenuous connection is the blood drinking which appears to be a rumor that originated long after her death.
The program also spends time talking about so-called modern vampires, clubs where people dress up and role-play as vampires. As with "Dungeons and Dragons," it's a pleasant and harmless pastime for virtually everyone involved, but inevitably a disturbed individual takes it far too seriously and loses touch with reality. In 1996, 16 year-old Rod Ferrell murdered his ex-girlfriend's parents and allegedly drank their blood. He identified himself as a 500 year old vampire, which made him either the youngest or the oldest person on Death Row in America, depending on your point of view. His sentence was later commuted to life in prison.
Setting aside tragic cases like Ferrell's, it's amusing to see the degree to which vampires have become completely mainstreamed in modern pop culture and, in so doing, all but completely neutered. Vampire books and movies targeted at teens and tweens are ubiquitous today which ought to make fundamental Christians pine for the good old days when they only had to worry about "Harry Potter" being the spawn of Satan. Vampires started off scary, became sexy, were occasionally funny, and now have become the kids next door. Not to mention fully commoditized properties. Long gone is the cautionary value of the vampire tale. But then again how can Dracula be scary in a world of Bernie Madoffs?
Authors Katherine Ramsland and Michelle Belanger are interviewed along with several other experts on the modern vampire culture.
The DVD is presented in 1.78:1. The interlaced transfer is mediocre, and the image is occasionally a bit soft. But what do you expect?
The DVD is presented in Dolby Digital Stereo. No subtitles are provided.
"Vampire Secrets" is intermittently interesting, but is pretty much disposable fluff. There really aren't too many secrets here. It's pretty typical History filler programming.