Black Petals Issue #72 Summer, 2015

Mars-News, Views and Commentary

Mars-News, Views and Commentary
Brutal-Fiction by A. M. Stickel, Editor
Chaos in Corollary-Fiction by A. M. Stickel, Editor
In Dreams, There Is No Time-Fiction by George Gad Economou
Nuncapisco-Fiction by A. M. Stickel, Editor
Ocean Life-Fiction by Lael Braday
Onward Traveler-Fiction by Kathleen Wolak
The Beach House-Fiction by Roy Dorman
The Weeping Man-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Poetry & Prose by Alexis Child
Poetry by John Frazee
Poetry by Denny Marshall
Poetry by Jeffrey Park
Poetry by Dr. Mel Waldman

Summer, 2015—Chris Friend






In many old horror films vampires lack the ability to have reflections in mirrors with the notable exception of F.W. Murnau’s silent classic “Nosferatu” (1922). In the film the vampire (played by Max Shreck) is dying from the sunlight and inadvertently steps in front of a mirror casting a reflection. In Roman Polanski’s cult favorite, “The Fearless Vampire Killers,” when the mortal vampire hunters dance with the undead they also waltz up in front of a mirror and are “outed” as human. (The film’s European title was Dance of the Vampires.) The vampire’s inability to cast a reflection seems to have been largely the invention of Bram Stoker with Count Dracula avoiding mirrors and with his castle being devoid of any kind of reflective device. When Jonathan Harker shaves he notices that the Count casts no reflection. It is also suggested that Dracula not only casts no reflection, but also lacks a shadow and cannot be photographed (because his likeness cannot be captured on any surface).

But the idea of a vampire’s lack of a reflection can be traced to all manner of folklore. Belief that a mirror can steal souls seems to have been widespread. Often when a person dies it was common to turn mirrors to the wall. Being an old hillbilly here in West Virginia, I’ve heard of this belief among some of our older people, notably of Celtic descent. This belief holds that if the corpse sees its reflection it will become confused and wander, potentially become undead. In Russian folklore, mirrors were seen as the creation of the devil. Seeing a corpse’s reflection was also thought dangerous, enabling the cadaver to steal someone’s soul through the mirror. Seeing one’s reflection in a room where a corpse would be lying in state was considered unwise and could lead to a living person’s premature death. The idea of the mirror’s vampire-like qualities can be traced to the Greek myth of Narcissus, who so loved his own reflection that it captured his complete attention, and he pined away and died. (Other versions have him simply turning into a flower, which was somewhat nicer). It was considered a bad idea to look in mirror at midnight and by candlelight, since it might conjure up a ghost, the devil, or a vision of one’s own death.

Oddly enough, in some Celtic folklore, to look in a mirror at midnight on Halloween could enable a vision of that person’s future spouse. The practice was most popular among unmarried girls. The ancient Persians held similar beliefs that ghosts could be conjured up in a mirror if the viewer stood quietly and completely still. Of course, breaking a mirror is bad luck, since it was believed to damage the soul.

In recent vampire films the undead can show a reflection. Anne Rice felt that since vampires exist in the mortal world they would inevitably show up in a mirror. Also, if vampires went around without reflections, they would be easier to spot by fearless vampire killers such as Polanski’s. I recently read that Anne Rice got the idea for the visual description for Interview of the Vampire from wonderful made-for-TV movies like Frankenstein—the True Story, a stylish and nearly forgotten gem of a TV horror film—with David McCallum, Jane Seymour (the Bride), James Mason, Leonard Whiting (the Baron), and Michael Sarrazin as the handsome monster who slowly degenerates into something out of Cronenberg. Its excellent production values and acting probably owe more to Hammer Studios than to Mary Shelley. This truly great monster-movie made its debut on NBC in November 1973, a month before another little horror film would be let loose on the world: The Exorcist.


The latest addition to my gallery is up. I have to thank Michael Herring for this all the way. He has created a great site for my drawings and asked nothing in return—truly wonderful. Gallery 5 - Chris Friend’s Dark and Strange Drawings  (Pleased as punch over this, I thank you, Michael, again and again!)

Enjoy 2 of my poems this time around, too, and have an amazing summer, Earthlings.



Gallery 5 - Chris Friend’s Dark and Strange Drawings

Dark and strange horror ink drawings by Chris Friend of West Virginia


Ed Gein


Apples lie on the ground

like blisters on the devil’s buttocks.

I pick my teeth

With a black feather

From a carrion bird

As I drive my truck

Up the rutted road

Leading to the old graveyard

Where so many treasures lie.

A jerky-dry flap of skin

Will make a fine lampshade;

Teeth pulled from the grinning skull

strings together into a luxurious necklace

for Mother to wear to church.

I rub the finger bones

In my pocket

for good luck.


Sour Puss


I am the angel of pickle juice

and blight,

puckering mouths

into dreadful kisses

and bitter breath;

with my granny-apple head

and vinegar for blood

I pinch the cheeks

of revelers

at any fall carnival.



Chris Friend,, of Parkersberg, W. Virginia, who wrote the 2008 poem “All Hallows’ Eve,” writes and illustrates our “MARS News” column. He did a cover for Black Petals back in 2000 for the fall issue, and has been around ever since. BP keeps up two websites for him and prints his column in the issue quarterly. Chris has a gallery on the site: and was featured artist in Kurt Newton’s Ultimate PerVersities (Naked Snake) [Jan. 2011].

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