“I, the Vampire”

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of the weekly weird fiction reviews. I’ll offer no reasons or excuses but just get to the review.

Review: “I, the Vampire”, Henry Kuttner, 1937.

Cover by Bruce Timm

This is one of  those formula stories where you pretty much know almost all the plot twists ahead of time.

The title, after all, tips you off. Then there’s editor Fransworth Wright’s blurb:

“Dark horror settled down like a fog on Hollywood, the world’s film capital, as an evil thing preyed on the celebrated stars of filmdom – an odd and curious story.”

On the first page, there’s mention of the “vampire man” – that would be Chevalier Futaine, an import from Paris who, it is hoped, will be the next Hollywood horror star after Boris Karloff. Yes, he does, indeed, turn out to be a real vampire.

And we can spot, right away, Futaine’s past and future victims.

The only surprising thing is that Chevailer Funtaine decides, after setting his sights on the narrator’s fiance, Jean (who Futaine believes is the reincarnation of a past love of his, Sonya), not to turn Jean into a vampire because he regrets doing that with Sonya. The woman Sonya he loved was not the same as Sonya the vampire.

(Spoilers ahead) 

We don’t actually know if the narrator ends up killing Futaine, but the latter gives him the key to his otherwise impregnable crypt so he can kill him during the day. 

Besides the surprising ending, the Hollywood details are interesting. Marijuana use is mentioned as is the downward trajectory of many actors via alcoholism. That’s exemplified by Hess Deming who the narrator, an assistant director, suspects will end up getting fewer and fewer jobs and eventually gassing himself to death in some cheap apartment. There is a Hollywood fixer of sort (he does “delicate jobs for studios”) in the man who tries to break into Futaine’s crypt at the request of the narrator.

Kuttner also updates the vampire myth a bit by showing how vampires can’t be clearly photographed – which leads to a cameraman being murdered by Futaine to keep his secret.

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