The real vampire slayers
In 2004, Romanian police were called to investigate the desecration of a grave in a remote village just south of Transylvania. What they discovered there could have come straight from a Hammer Horror film. Here, renowned cannibalism expert Dr Timothy Taylor revisits the scene of the crime
My first trip to the Romanian province of Transylvania in 1981 was a subject of wonder to many of my friends. They assumed it to be as fictional as Anthony Hope’s Ruritania, made up by Hammer Horror as a pastiche of the dark heart of Europe and shot, day-for-night, in a Forestry Commission plantation near Elstree. The reality, with Ceausescu in power and an oppressed peasantry, cocksure secret police force, rampant criminality, simmering ethnic problems, little or no food, bears, wild boar, wolves, truly vicious dogs with spiked collars of medieval design, and unspoilt mountain meadows of breathtaking beauty was… well, quite clearly another reality. I was captivated, and returned several times up until 1988, making friends, getting in fixes, and attempting to steep myself in the language and culture.
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