Raising Hell



Would you dare enter the world of the undead, venture to the island were Dracula lies buried, to the city where grave robbers traded corpses for gold, to the church which is decorated with human body parts, or to the desert where they torched the body of a rock star? The truth can be stranger than fiction... scarier too. Since the very dawn of civilization, since humankind evolved from a lawless imperative of kill-or-be-killed, a key attribute which marks us out as human beings is our respect for the dead. So why sometimes do we fail to show that respect? Is it because respect can turn into fear? Is that why civilized behavior turns to savagery? Why respectable god-fearing Americans, a little more than a century ago, turned into a bloodthirsty mob disturbing graves in their hunt for a vampire? Rhode Island is one of the most beautiful, most tranquil stretches of the New England's seaboard. Today it's a haven for nature lovers, for pleasure seekers all kinds, but not that long ago in this same peaceful part of the world it was wise to be indoors come nightfall. Signs of the most astonishing case of vampire activity are still to be seen in one church yard in Exeter, Rhode Island. Many still believe that there's a grave of a vampire. Why do legends of the undead have such a hold on our imagination? What is the lifeblood that has fed the vampire myth for centuries? Perhaps a journey to Dracula's grave, set on an island in Eastern Europe, may hold the answer. Was the real Dracula quite so bloodthirsty as the legends would suggest? He was a prince from Transylvania in what is now Romania. They called him Vlad Dracul, Vlad the Impaler. Modern-day Romanians call this 15th century ruler a hero, for his victories against the invading Turkish army, but he was also capable of unspeakable cruelty.

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