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Check It Out: Ghosts, vampires, werewolves and zombies

October 25, 2012|By Andrew Kachaturian | By Andrew Kachaturian

Late October brings many strange creatures to the library, just in time for Halloween. Popular culture is once again infatuated — smitten, even — with dark characters suffering from vampiric curses, terribly monstrous afflictions and other ghastly conditions. Currently at the Newport Beach Central Library, we have an interesting cast of characters fighting it out on display: ghosts, vampires, werewolves and zombies!

In one corner, we have the traditional ghost featured in haunted house stories. If you like things that go bump in the night, what better example to read than Shirley Jackson's "The Haunting of Hill House?" Contained in Jackson's "Novels and Stories," "The Haunting of Hill House" remains one of the best literary ghost stories of the 20th century. Adapted as a motion picture twice, check out "The Haunting" (1963) from the library's DVD collection. A similar ghost story is the 1973 film "The Legend of Hell House," starring Roddy McDowall. Well-acted and eerily shot, this film features of team of psychics trying to solve the mystery of the ill-rumored Hell House.

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Facing off against ghosts, we have the traditional vampire story. Editor Michael Sims has compiled 22 Victorian vampire stories titled "Dracula's Guest: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Vampire Stories ." With stories originating from England, America, France, Germany, Transylvania, and even Japan, this unique collection puts the vampire in a setting that meshes well with that of our collective imagination.

In film, the figure of Dracula has been immortalized many times. Relive some classic portrayals with Universal's 1931 "Dracula" starring Bela Lugosi, the 1958 Hammer production of "Horror of Dracula" starring Christopher Lee, or the 1992 Francis Ford Coppula version, "Bram Stoker's Dracula" starring Gary Oldman.

What better enemy for the vampire than the fearsome werewolf? Long considered the foremost writer of vampire stories, author Anne Rice has turned her attention to werewolves in her new book "The Wolf Gift." Set in the preset day, a familiar story unfolds of an unwitting character being stricken with an affliction they never thought possible, but Rice weaves the tale with a new and interesting voice. In the world of film, a novel glimpse of the werewolf can be found in the 1984 production of "The Company of Wolves," which mixes fantasy, horror and the Little Red Ridinghood fairy tale!

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