In 1484, Pope Innocent VIII released the papal bull Summis Desiderantes in response to the German inquisitor, Heinrick Kramer’s request to prosecute witchcraft in Germany.
The purpose of this article is to acquaint the reader with the period of the witch trials. The newly formed church did not originally intend to pursue witchcraft so vigorously, but did so by default due to the influence of Mary, Queen of Scots, who rejected laws and clauses which contained anti-Catholic rhetoric.
No creature of the night seems to excite the western imagination quite like the vampire. While others like Frankenstein and the Mummy have lost their lustre over the years, vampires abound in books and films. In the local video store, the horror shelves are stocked with films like ‘The Lost Boys’, and posters proclaim the release of ‘Fright Night II’.
There are various noticeable connotations which come to people’s minds after hearing the word Gothic. Some associate the term with today’s pulp literature for youngsters, whereas others often think of old, black and white movies about all those ridiculously looking monsters who constantly attack poor and frightened damsels-in-distress.
According to J. Gordon Melton, “The vampire figure in folklore emerged as an answer to otherwise unsolvable problems within culture. It was seen as the cause of certain unexplainable evils, accounted for the appearance of some extraordinary occurrences within the society, and was often cited as the end product of immoral behaviour” (445).
That the vampire epidemics caused great concern within European society in the Early Modern period, there is no doubt. As Rousseau (Masson, 1914) noted “for some time now the public news has been concerned with nothing but vampires… yet show me a single man of sense in Europe who believes [in them]”.
In his discussion of genre, Altman observes: “we cannot help but notice that generic terminology sometimes involves nouns, sometimes adjectives… Indeed, the very same word sometimes appears as both part of speech: musical comedies or just plain musicals, Western romances or simply Westerns, documentary films or film documentaries.” (Altman 1999, 50)
In his early writing on the genre, Neale suggests genres “differ from one another… in the precise weight given to the discourses they share in common” so that while narrative disequilibrium “is inaugurated by violence” in the western, the gangster film, the detective film and the horror film, the “specificity” of the horror film is not defined by “violence as such” but by its special emphasis on “discourses carrying the human/nature opposition in its discursive regime”, an emphasis that can even end up “relativising or even displacing entirely the Law/disorder dichotomy in term of which violence operates in the western, the detective and gangster films.” (Neale 1980, 21)