Friday, March 6, 2015

Outfoxing the Vampire Hunter

Don't worry, Basil's still with us. (Photo: City Varieties)

Forty five years ago, Sean Manchester and David Farrant made the Hampstead & Highgate Express's front page with a question readers didn't even know they'd asked: "Why Do the Foxes Die?" (March 6, 1970).

That question will be explored further in an upcoming article for my website, Vamped, which also features an article Erin Chapman and I worked on together called: "5 Reasons Why a Wampyr Didn't Walk in Highgate" (Feb. 27, 2015).

In it, Erin and I discovered that Manchester had little to no clue about Highgate Cemetery's geography, which means he's either a grossly incompetent investigator (at the time, he was supposedly President of the British Occult Society), or a grossly incompetent fraud who couldn't get his story straight. Take your pick.

Coincidentally, the article was finished in time for the 45th anniversary of Manchester broadcasting his vampire theory through the Hampstead & Highgate Express's cover story: "Does a Wampyr Walk in Highgate?" (Feb. 27, 1970).

We can count that date as the Highgate Vampire's birthday; after all, there was no reliable record of any vampire hauntings in the cemetery prior that date. Which I guess also makes Manchester its daddy. They certainly look alike, but that might not be so coincidental.

Podcast radio host, Don Ecker, relates the following account told to him by an unidentified person, told by another unidentified person, who knew the "in's and out's" of the case, explaining how Manchester was able to create the "decomposing vampire" shots featured in his 1985 book, The Highgate Vampire and the 1991 revised edition (Ecker n.d., [20–1]):
Well David [Farrant] has maintained all along that it's Manchester himself under the make up, but he didn't know how the effect was created. This new witness explained that when he had asked Manchester back in the 70's with a lot of praise for the effect, Manchester explained how he did it. Now it's important that you realize that Manchester had a photographic studio at the time; something he brags about given the chance and a knowledge of photography.

The film is basically time lapse photography played in reverse.
Manchester had a watery flour mixture on his face and a heater & fan set up nearby.The heat source melted the mixture and the fan blew it off of his face.Once the time lapse photography was finished, the effect was played in reverse.

As the frame rate was so stilted, you wouldn't be able to see the blow off effect but simply a very basic face morph.

It is a set a 3 pictures from his home movie, that made their way into his book and on his own website.
3 very grainy pictures from someone who is supposed to be a professional photographer. The reason that they are so small, is that blowing up a cine film still, would leave too many artifacts in frame that would give the game away as to their origin.

It's also why he refuses to allow people to host these pictures and threatens them with legal action (copyright) if they do not remove them from their websites.
Chilling Effects, a website that houses online copyright notices, testifies to Manchester's proclivity for reporting people either under his own name, or the name of his vanity publisher, Gothic Press. Yet Manchester sees no double standard flagrantly stealing creative works from other people, as his penchant for plagiarism reveals.

In the meantime, can view a version of the photos from Manchester's website, which he's partially obscured with terribly distorted Photoshop effects ("Highgate Vampire Picture Gallery" n.d.).

I'd share the image itself here, but Manchester's particularly keen on suppressing criticism, as demonstrated by his recent actions against Erin Chapman's article "Seeking Vampires in London" (Nov. 16, 2014), where he contacted my website's host and forced the removal of two photos that prove he had misidentified two Highgate Cemetery locations. Erin and I have challenged Manchester's claim on "fair use" grounds (Hogg 2014).

Fair use gives you "the right to reproduce or to authorize others to reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords," which is considered "fair" under certain contexts "such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research" (U.S. Copyright Office n.d.)

Manchester also recently tried to force Faustian Circle, who writes a blog of the same name, to remove two posts from his site after Manchester had been rumbled by commentators for using his "B.O.S." alias and in the wake of a series of incriminating phone transcripts between Manchester and Farrant, which were posted by Farrant on the blog. Faustian Circle wrote (2015):
We have received a message from Sean Manchester requesting that we remove both articles: "THE HIGHGATE VAMPIRE HUNTERS" and "THE HIGHGATE VAMPIRE HUNTERS: READER'S COMMENTS - PART 2".

We replied: "Wouldn't it be better to respond to the articles and comments about yourself in the comments section of the articles, as you or your representative 'B.O.S.' (British Occult Society) have done so far? In the interests of free speech and debate we are extremely reluctant to remove the articles in question."

If the articles are removed due to a DNS action via the internet, readers of this blog will know why.
Further transcripts have followed, Sean "B.O.S." Manchester has not added any further comments, clearly crestfallen that his usual suppressive tactics have not worked this time. Score one for free speech!

References


Chapman, Erin. 2014. "Seeking Vampires in London." Vamped (blog), Nov. 16. Accessed March 6, 2015. http://vamped.org/2014/11/16/seeking-vampires-in-london/.

———. 2015. "5 Reasons Why a Wampyr Didn't Walk in Highgate." Vamped (blog), Feb. 27. Accessed March 6, 2015. http://vamped.org/2015/02/27/5-reasons-why-a-wampyr-didnt-walk-in-highgate-cemetery/.

Ecker, Don. n.d. "My Inquiry into the Highgate Vampire Case." The Paracast. Accessed March 6, 2015. http://www.theparacast.com/darkmatters/borisdocument.pdf.

Faustian Circle. 2015. Comment on "The Highgate Vampire Hunters: Reader's Comments - Part 2," by Faustian Circle, February 17, 2015 at 13:53. The Faustian Circle, Feb. 4. Accessed March 6, 2015. http://faustiancircle.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/the-highgate-vampire-hunters-readers.html?showComment=1424210004133#c5870166592858357355.

"Highgate Vampire Picture Gallery." n.d. English Gothic. Accessed March 6, 2015. http://www.gothicpress.freeserve.co.uk/Highgate%20Vampire%20Picture.htm.

Hogg, Anthony. 2014. "'Vampire Hunter' Hammers Stake Through Article." Vamped (blog), Nov. 27. Accessed March 6, 2015. http://vamped.org/2014/11/27/vampire-hunter-hammers-stake-through-article/.

U.S. Copyright Office. n.d. "Fair Use." Copyright.gov, reviewed June 2012. Accessed March 6, 2015. http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Shady Pagan Shenanigans?

On Friday, December 13, 1973, David Farrant and John Pope were arrested at an abandoned neo-gothic mansion in Crouch End locally known as the "House of Dracula." An article the week before spoke of "strange goings-on at night and mysterious noises and flickering lights in upper windows." It goes on to mention:
Later this week, Highgate Police appealed to anyone who sees anything suspicious in the deserted house or people entering, particularly at night, to call them. They promise they will act on the information immediately. (Simpson 1973)
Interestingly, Farrant mentions "a series of 'mysterious witchcraft ceremonies' that took place in a deserted gothic mansion house in Crouch End, North London" that "began to unnerve the local residents." He adds that he and another coven member [John Pope], were there "conducting a magickal ceremony", specifically, a "Ritual to summon the nature God Pan" (Farrant n.d.). Elsewhere, he explains the mysterious "flickering lights" and the reason for their arrest:
We used a biscuit tin to make a small fire for heat and light, and there was an old people’s home opposite the house. I am not sure if they saw the flickering lights, or if the police had been tipped off, but all of a sudden there was a stampede coming up the stairs and the police burst in and charged me with arson. (quoted in Gough n.d.)
The charges didn't stick, though. Farrant and Pope "were later acquitted by High Court Judge Bruce Campbell, but warned to be careful in future as they were certainly acting in a manner that could have provided unwanted police attention." (Farrant n.d.)

What Farrant doesn't mention in those passages is that someone else accompanied their summoning rites—a woman Sean Manchester identifies as "Deborah Davis - a Californian blues singer . . . high on cocaine" who "did not participate in the third ritual because she was "so petrified by the past attempt that she refused to enter the house again."" (2009a). His blog post features a photograph of the trio, captioned "Farrant (centre) with Deborah Davis and Pope at the demon-raising ritual." (Manchester 2009a)

In that shot, they're clothed, but apparently, nudity was "essential" to the ritual, according to Farrant. "Yet Pope confirms that throughout these rituals Farrant failed to disrobe. Pope was not so coy and stood completely naked throughout the ceremony." (Manchester 2009a) Indeed, other pictures of the event in Manchester's blog feature Pope in the buff and Farrant fully-clothed. (Manchester 2009b)

So with Farrant conducting the ceremony and Pope getting his kit off for the cause, why did they need Davis? And for that matter, if all three were photographed while seated who was taking the photos? Pope recently had some interesting things to say about the event, Davis' presence there and the identity of the photographer, on my Facebook group, "Did a Wampyr Walk in Highgate?" On June 12, 2014, 9:08pm, he said:
i was doing a rite from crowleys [sic] book to conjur [sic] up pan but I went into trance instead., I didf [sic] banish it after. but I think we had not started when Police arived [sic]. we had hyme [sic] to pan and banishing rite of the pentergram [sic]. it was all painted with crowlian [sic] symbols. I dont [sic] know for sure who did that. I never felt any thing sinnister [sic] there. but my rituals may have left something, of the pull of the other side. as gateway to other realms was opened.
I sought further clarification from Pope and decided to address a rumour I'd heard about the photographer's identity (June 12, 2014, 9:010pm):
The gist of the story seems to be that the place was already haunted and that's why you and David were there in the first place. Also, there was a lady with you too. Oh, and apparently Manchester photographed the ritual. Is that right?
Pope responded and added something that caught me off guard (June 13, 2014, 8:52pm):
yes a french women friend of davids [sic], we were hopeing [sic] for soe [sic] fun but she was not up for it, I forget here name, she looked like a famouse [sic] acrtess [sic].
it was a funny case cops in court were asked by jury for evidence, and they said look at the photos jury said we understood house was bombed in war are you saying mr pope and farrent [sic] burnt it down, cops screamed just look at flameing [sic] photo, ie [sic] burnt out house, hence we found not guilty.
I wanted John to elaborate a little on certain things, so I asked (June 14, 2014, 12:25am):
"We were hoping for some fun" - are you saying you guys had her there, not so much to play an active role in the ceremony, so much as to get a "bit" from her? The tale of the vampire there seems mainly to have come from its nickname, "The House of Dracula." The Hornsey Journal report doesn't actually mention any vampiric activity in it, but something more akin to a standard haunting.
Pope later provided the clincher (June 20, 2014, 9:17pm):


It's not the first time I've been made aware of a sordid angle to Farrant's rituals (Hogg 2012), so I can't say I'm too surprised by Pope's claim.

Pope's reference to "a french women friend of davids" in lieu of the "Californian blues singer" Manchester mentions is possibly muddled,¹ but his later reference to "a full frontal of me sqoting [sic] holding a knife and my weding [sic] tacvkle [sic] for all to see" (June 23, 2014, 10:36pm) during the event is backed up by a photograph Manchester captioned "John Pope during a demon raising ritual in which Farrant participated" on his blog (2009b)—which indeed shows a nude Pope holding a knife to his rude bits.

So what of the photographer? Manchester's blog features a picture he's captioned "Pope and Farrant summon dark forces in December 1973" (Manchester 2009b), but the telling caption comes from the picture, itself, which has actually been lifted from an issue of City Limits

The caption reads "Farrant (facing camera) in the picture"—but the rest of the caption has been conveniently blurred out. That's because the original reads: "Farrant (facing camera) in the picture sent in by his rival"; his rival, of course, being Manchester.

Notes


¹ Though I have asked him for further clarity: "So, in short - what begins as a story of summoning Pan, turns out to be a story of nookie, with Manchester happily snapping away in yet another publicity stunt. Fair assessment, John?" (June 24, 2014, 7:24am) and "Oh, and are you sure the lady was French?" (June 24, 2014, 10:44pm)

References


Farrant, David. n.d. "What Goes on at the ‘House of Dracula’? – Hornsey Journal, Dec 7th 1973." David Farrant - Psychic Investigator. Accessed June 24, 2014. http://davidfarrant.org/vintage-press-reports/what-goes-on-at-the-house-of-dracula-hornsey-journal-dec-7th-1973/.

Gough, Andrew. n.d. "17 Questions: David Farrant." Andrew Gough's Arcadia. Accessed June 24, 2014. http://andrewgough.co.uk/17q_farrant.html.

Hogg, Anthony. 2012. "The American Magazine." Did a Wampyr Walk in Highgate?, February 8. Accessed June 24, 2014. http://dawwih.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/american-magazine.html.

Manchester, Sean. [B.O.S., pseud.]. 2009a. "Hymn to Pan." In the Shadow of the Highgate Vampire:  The Life of a Lack-lustre Luciferian Layabout, February 13. Accessed June 24, 2014. http://thehighgatevampire.blogspot.com.au/2009/02/one.html.

———. 2009b. "Source of Falsification." In the Shadow of the Highgate Vampire:  The Life of a Lack-lustre Luciferian Layabout, February 13. Accessed June 24, 2014. http://thehighgatevampire.blogspot.com.au/2009/02/five.html.

Simpson, Roger. 1973. "What Goes on at the 'House of Dracula'?" Hornsey Journal, December 7.

Friday, April 25, 2014

A Must-Read Article

Unfortunately, scholarly studies into the Highgate Vampire are far and few between—notable exceptions include Ramsey Campbell's "The Strange Case of Sean Manchester" (1992), Bill Ellis' "The Highgate Cemetery Vampire Hunt: The Anglo-American Connection in Satanic Cult Lore" (1993), Kai Roberts' Highgate Vampire chapter in Grave Concerns: The Follies and Folklore of Robin Hood's Final Resting Place (2011) and W. Scott Poole's "The Vampire that Haunts Highgate: Theological Evil, Hammer Horror, and the Highgate Vampire Panic in Britain, 1963–1974" in The Undead and Theology (2012), edited by Kim Paffenroth and John W. Morehead.

Haunted America Tours
Instead, we must largely contend with the regurgitations; buck-chasing; scattered, out-of-context referencing and dodgy parapsychological "investigations" of the case's main protagonists, Sean Manchester and David Farrant. Fortunately, an antidote's recently been published online, giving us a taste of what studies on the subject should look like. In fact, it's one of the best write-ups on the case I've ever read. 

For the sake of disclosure, I'll mention that the article's author is a friend of mine; last year, he interviewed me for a podcast about the case. He has not told me to promote the article, I am only doing so on its own merits. Now, onto the write-up.

Trystan Swale's "The Highgate Vampire – An Exercise in Deception?" was published on Mysterious Times, March 27, 2014, and pulls no punches. However, instead of the usual inflammatory commentary revelled in by the case's protagonists and their supporters, Swale presents a clean, balanced overview, highlighting flaws in Manchester and Farrant's account, also incorporating some startling claims made by John Pope, a man who's been on both sides of the Highgate Vampire fence. The article also features 50 citations, so you can double-check his sources for yourself. It's great stuff and highly recommended.

It's also something I wasn't expecting from Swale, considering the informal, though still on-the-mark tone he uses for his blog, Leaves that Wither—which I'll discuss in another post. In the meantime, be sure to read his article. I hope you'll find it as enlightening and enriching as I do. For a concise, balanced overview of the case, it's hard to go past it.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Kate Jonez
I wish a safe and Merry Christmas to my followers, subscribers, watchers and casual readers. And your loved ones, too. 

You guys are the bridge between me pissing in the wind and having a reason to keep going with this thing. Thank you.

Special wishes to the members of my Facebook group and page. Thank you for your support. To anyone who hasn't joined yet, hope to see you there.

A special Yuletide greeting to my friends, Angie Watkins, Sam, Erin Chapman, Trystan Swale and Matthew Banks. Thank you for your support. I hope Santa rewards you favourably!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Suspended from Posting to Facebook for Three Days

I've just received an announcement from Facebook telling me I'm barred from posting for three days, due to an intellectual property claim issued against me.

A few days ago, I initiated a thread in my Facebook group discussing the recent death of Sylvia Browne, comparing my plight with the one Robert S. Lancaster faced running his Stop Sylvia Browne website:
Not directly related to the Highgate Vampire, but Robert Lancaster is a man I admire and whose delvings into the claims of a paranormalist touches on things I've encountered, myself while writing about the case - the threats to dig up dirt, actual attempts, attempts at discrediting my work through negative rhetoric (Lancaster's website is called "nasty", whereas I am referred to as a "troll" and someone who doesn't ask "genuine questions", etc.) and so on. It's guys like him that inspire me.

And in case you think I'm being tasteless by posting this in the immediate aftermath of Browne's death, it also serves to highlight why we shouldn't glorify the dead who were dodgy in life. Case in point: "And she said, as she says in some of her books, that she will live until she is eighty-eight years old, which is sixteen years from now [2008]." Browne was 77.
Right beneath that post, I posted a link to Hoggwatch, a blog dedicated to stalking me, to illustrate the kind of despicable tactics used to attack me and my research. The blog's byline was formerly credited to "Vebjørn Hästehufvud", who changed his account name to "B .O.S." in the immediate aftermath of my exposé of his dodgy behaviour (which includes using a variety of sockpuppets and stealing the Highgate Cemetery Vampire Appreciation Society's name).

Overlooking the irony of his action, the true author of the blog opted to report me for posting a link to Hoggwatch—not content from the link, mind you, just the link itself—and in doing so, revealed the actual person behind the sockpuppets:


That's right—Bishop Sean Manchester reported me to Facebook for posting a link to a blog he created, dedicated to stalking me. Ladies and gentlemen, I present the man whose jurisdiction English Old Catholics have placed themselves under. At least, in his own imagination.

I have also taken the liberty of e-mailing Manchester, in accordance with Facebook's request:
Dear Manchester,

Re: you reporting me to Facebook on account of me posting a link to your blog

I am writing in to ask you to restore the content to my Facebook group, i.e. a link to your blog, "Hoggwatch" accompanied by the caption "An example of an attempt at silencing my work". Facebook requests that you email them with your consent, along with the reference number.

I can not fathom why you would report my post for hosting the link, unless you desired to incriminate yourself as its author—in which case, you've succeeded. Well done.

Regards,

Anthony Hogg
I've done my part. Time for Manchester to do his. I look forward to his reply.

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