Picks and Pans Review: The Vampire Book

updated 11/14/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/14/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

by J. Gordon Melton

Get a life" seems inappropriate advice for someone obsessed by vampire lore. So maybe Melton should get a living death.

Not that compiling this 852-page encyclopedia of trivia can exactly be called living. Melton approaches his topic with little irony or any other kind of humor.

Among his heavy-handed entries are subjects like the Slavic Vampire Today ("Governments hostile to any form of supernaturalism have had a marked influence on the loss of belief in vampires.")

The author is certainly not critical. He generously labels Anne Rice a "major literary figure" and he refers to the abjectly ludicrous 1966 film Billy the Kid vs. Dracula as merely "an unfortunate marriage of the vampire and western genres." The positive side is that Melton limits himself in the bad-pun department, only letting slip one "bad blood." To take him on his own compulsively cross-referencing terms, Melton fails to include an entry on the Talamasca, the vampire-witch-monster-hunting organization that Rice uses in her novels, and his only reference to Count Chocula cereal is perfunctory. He is, on the other hand, rather taken with the vegetarian vampire rabbit Bunnicula, hero of a 1979 children's story (there are five citings for the ravenous rodent in Melton's index, only 51 fewer than there are for Bela Lugosi).

This is a swell reference work for your next term paper on pop culture oddities, but as enjoyable reading goes, it's as much fun as a poke in the neck with a sharp tooth. (Visible Ink, paper, $16.95)

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