Weekly Features

The Weekly Shaman–Chris Friend

Hello again!

Since this is the summer issue I decided to write on the allegedly true case of The Vampire of Croglin Grange. It reportedly happened during the summer of 1875, ending in 1876. According to the legend a family by the name of Fisher owned a house in what is now Cumberland England. The house was rented out to a young family of two brothers and one sister. Amelia, Edward, and Michael Cranswell were in need of a summer home and this seemed to be the place. During this particular summer the area was intensely hot, making it especially hard for the family to sleep. The girl slept near the window which overlooked and ancient cemetery. Restless, Amelia Cranswell lay on her bed looking out the window when she noticed a strange shadowy figure coming out of the graveyard and moving closer and closer to her window. The figure turned out to be a ghoulish monster that came through the window and grabbed her by the neck. The monster was described as having a mummy- like visage with glowing red eyes. He leapt on her and bit her on the throat. Amelia managed to scream, alerting her two brothers and scaring the vampire back to the cemetery. A local doctor was called to the scene and bandaged the young lady’s wound. The doctor also suggested that they take a holiday in Switzerland, advice they followed. But with little money the three youths knew they would have to return to Croglin Grange. During the spring of 1876 the three Cranswells returned to England and the house where the previous attack had happened. This time they remained on guard for the vampire. So, when the monster showed its ugly head, they were ready for it and one of the brothers shot it in the leg. This sent the vampire flying back to the old boneyard where they tracked it. Apparently, this vampire was also a ghoul who tore open and fed on the corpses buried with it. The only coffin not so violently disturbed was the resting place of the guilty ghoul, who had a fresh bullet wound from the previous night. They extracted the bullet and burned the vampire to ashes, which they dumped in a local waterway. No one was assaulted by the vampire from that point on. The story was first recorded by August Hare in his book, The Story of My Life. But there was a degree of controversy over the exact location of Croglin Grange. It may have been in and area known as Croglin Low House which had a churchyard like the one described. Others have suggested that the whole story may have been an elaborate hoax. There is also a footnote that the story took place in the 17th century, nearly two hundred years before the date of the account. I recounted this infamous vampire tale for the summer issue because it makes a great spooky campfire story for all you campers out there. My movie review the issue is of the Hammer Studio classic, “The Revenge of Frankenstein” (1958). Directed by the great Terence Fisher, this was a sequel to the enormously successful, “The Curse of Frankenstein” (1957). Unlike Universal’s Frankenstein films, Hammer’s version of Mary Shelley’s tale had Baron Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) as the character who moved from the first film to the next. “The Revenge of Frankenstein” shows how the Baron manages to do this. In this version Frankenstein has managed to escape the guillotine with a little friendly help (in this case from his deformed protégé, Igor, played by Michael Gwynn). The good doctor promises his helper a brand new body as a reward. But, there’s trouble afoot with the creature shifting back into a deformed being and also a cannibalistic killer. The monster is revealed to be the work of Frankenstein (going by the name of Dr. Stein), who is attacked. Another of the dear Baron’s ghoulish sidekicks transplants Victor’s brain into a brand new body and thus, goes on with his experiments in body building. More than any of Hammer Studios’ other horror films I believe the Frankenstein movies to be my favorites. I first saw this on as a kid one Halloween night and have been a fan ever since. 

Happy summer, Earthlings.