SkepticblogSkepticblog logo banner

top navigation:

Vampire Killing for Fun and Profit

by Mark Edward, Jul 03 2010

A $14,850.000 Vampire Killing Kit Complete with Vintage Garlic Cloves

With the release of the latest (and hopefully final) installment of the “Twilight” trilogy, I felt it fitting to appraise the current fascination with all things vampire; with particular empahsis on a con/fad that seems to have peaked in the last few years: the selling and marketing of so-called “Vampire Killing Kits.”  Clever hoaxers and just plain hobbyists are building and selling these portable kits for upwards of $14, 850.00. No kidding. Ebay has several of them right now if you hurry.

If you have that kind of money to burn, I say go for it. I love this stuff! It’s an undeniably awesome conversation piece. Unfortunately, that’s about as far as it goes. Correct me if I’m wrong, but there’s no precedent for anything even remotely resembling a “Vampire Killing Kit” in any reputable museum I know of.

The Cheaper $7,500.00 Model

I will borrow shamelessly from a website I found : Bad Historian, where this subject is covered in far more detail. His point is quite simple:
“More than anything else, and what makes this even more a case of caveat emptor than the usual fake Ebay dross that can snare the unwary, is that it’s not even a fake of any authenticated type of artefact. In the folk tales of vampires, dedicated vampire hunters are conspicuous by their absence and there’s no suggestion that any dedicated equipment was even thought necessary. In cases we’d recognise as close to the modern conception of a vampire slaying, it’s nearly always the easily improvised wooden stake that’s the main tool, followed by decapitation/garlic in the mouth/incineration/whatever else. Silver bullets, as the another blog points out, are a latter-day Hollywood addition to the mythos, and were originally associated with werewolves (though silver in general was thought by some to counter anything supernatural).”

Roman Polanski as "Alfred" About to Drive Home His Point in "Fearless Vampire Killers"

Yes, we have Hollywood’s penchant for the absurd to thank for the concept of a portable kit that stands ready to stake the nearest vampire. In Roman Polanski’s delightful horror/comedy send-up of vampire hunting: “The Fearless Vampire Killers or Pardon Me But My Teeth are in Your Neck” (1967) one can see one of the first cinematic appearances of such a silly kit handled admirably by the Van Helsing character: Professor Ambrosius (played to perfection by Jack MacGowran). In this instance, the Professor’s kit is a doctor bag filled with garlic, a rosary or two and a crude stake. As if vampire hunters might be as common as a plumber or electrician, Polanski and MacGowran traipse across snowy castle rooftops and foil the best efforts of several vampires, all the while mixing a tongue-in-cheek black humor into the whole affair. Unfortunately, the people selling these modern day fairground Fiji mermaids aren’t showing their tongues or their cheeks.  

Fake Dagger

As in Asimov”s “Unicorn Wings” theory, (see my post from May 23, 2009 for definition ) one would think that the reality of vampires would need to be first firmly established before the selling of a vampire killing kit would seem plausible. Nonetheless, Sotheby’s and Ebay don’t seem to mind and as far as I can tell aren’t offering any verifiable certification of authenticity. This sort of supply and demand must be largely the private domain of  Goths, jaded rock stars with too much disposable income or extremely eccentric collectors who don’t care about science and just want to impress their friends with a box full of strangeness.

I can’t say I blame them. When you do seances or perform bizarre magick for a living, if constructed in historically correct ways with an eye for realism, such accouterments can be somewhat educational and make the difference between a believable discourse on supernaturalism and being laughed at as a trickster. Small details like screw-top caps on your garlic container or using a Ginsu-Knife from K-Mart won’t add to the antiquity required to suspend belief in today’s special effects wary culture. The props that I use in my seances have to look like the real thing and I spend considerable time searching out antique malls and aging everything to create the right antiquarian effect. My magician friends and fellow bizarre entertainers work very hard to present “genuine artifacts” or whatever they can cobble together that has the look, feel and even smell of the real thing to help sell their show. My friend in bizarreness Christian Chelman is a master of such handiwork. Check out his site at or his latest book “Hanutiques” and you will see how far a consumate performer will go to entice his audience into a world of magick and the occult.

 To the left is Christian Cheleman’s Vampire Killing Kit, described at his splendid site as:

“Vampire Killing Kit, second half of the 19th century
The pistol dates from the 18th century and was brought back from an expedition to Russia and Mongolia in September 2001.”

In Christian’s case, this exquisite collection of props is an important adjunct to his performance technique and as in a Hollywood production, absolutely essential to drawing in the attention of the crowd. No doubt if you saw him do whatever routine or storytelling magick he does using this set-up, you would probably totally fall into the spell of his spiel. You can’t buy stuff like this at the corner magic shop. It takes time and dedication to execute a convincing undertaking of this sort – and don’t excuse the puns.

In an effective demostration only a die-hard skeptic or historian could tell the difference between a real antique or a fake. Sorry, but no disclaimers are given by most of us who have spent so much time “dressing the set.”  To do any kind of disclaimer in this type of performance situation would be like going into a fancy French restaurant and after putting in your order, having the chef come out of the kitchen and tell you it came out of a can. No way. I’m there to sell you the real thing – or as close as I can for your time and money. Most lay people never give such an artifact a second thought. I know because I’ve used the same strategies in my seances for years. At one point after a suggestion from one of my bizarrist co-horts, I had an antique funeral home chest fitted out with an interior that included a special inside coating of Hollywood’s finest fake cobwebs, a scent of antiquity specially blended to create the perfect musty odor, and at one point even a small live spider that was dropped into the box before the show and which scuttled out of the box after I had opened it. Of course the lid of this box was chosen out of many others for the incredible squeak it made when it was slowly opened. These kinds of details are what showmanship is all about in my book (books plural actually:  “Restless Plots”, “Sense and Seance” and “Loose Ends” in particular*) and in a close-up magic situation are strong sensory cues that are rarely if ever forgotten by my sitters. A tarantula jumping out would be a little too over the top. Taste must dictate where one must draw the line.

Does this make me a charlatan or a spook crook? No, I don’t think so. There’s a fine line between what is considered an entertainment and what is sold as real. Forgive me if I sound disrespectful, but I usually assume that when I’m in a theatrical environment or acting as a paid performer, my job is to entertain and not to educate. I also assume (possibly wrongly in some caese) that my audience is fairly well- educated and not likely to really believe I’m going to create a ghost in front of them. This may be a big mistake on my part in the minds of skeptics, but that’s show biz.

So like the schism that often exists between mentalists and so-called professional psychics and mediums, the intention is what is important. I fully intend to entertain you.

I’m sure that any intention to defraud isn’t even an issue at Ebay or Sotheby’s. For them selling Vampire Killing Kits is the same as selling any other curiosity like a stuffed albatross or a alligator wallet. You get what you pay for.

Chritian Chelman's Ghost Hunting kit

There’s an odd conundrum here. What really gets me is the fact that vampires like Edward Cullin from the “Twilight” series have nothing to fear from these kinds of Goth arts and crafts. Why? Because everyone is so madly in love with Edward and his ilk, who would dare want to kill him or put an end to their swoon?
Back in my day when I was a chalky faced loner teenager without a girlfriend, life would have been much easier if vampire chic was all the rage. Ahhh well.
Perhaps we may have to put our Vampire Killing Kits in storage (leaving the lid off to collect as much dust as possible of course) for a few years until somebody like Christopher Lee or Bela Lugosi pops up to inspire us to drive in another stake.
Until then, buyer BEWARE.

Chris Lee as Drac: Now That's More Like It!


Heart Throb Edward
* All available at


FVZA Investigation Kit Fetches $20,000 at Auction


An investigation kit from the earliest days of the Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency has fetched $20,000 at an auction, according to Sothebys. The name of the winning bidder was not given.The record sale comes just one week after Sothebys sold an 18th century vampire-hunting kit for $12,000.The FVZA kit, which dates from 1870, includes a pistol, bullets, a log book, pen and ink. The kit also contains a vial of powdered flowers of garlic, a reflection of superstitions of the time.The FVZA was formed by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1868 and operated until 1975.


13 Responses to “Vampire Killing for Fun and Profit”

  1. LovleAnjel says:

    It sounds strange but there is a thriving art trade in items like these and pre-made curiosity cabinets or shadowboxes that aim for a steampunk aesthetic (and sometimes include small alien fetuses “preserved” in jars). You can find more than a few on Etsy.

    I think Mark talks a little about the truly fun part– actually finding the bits & constructing the piece.

  2. Chris Noble says:

    I’m having a helluva time finding the “Bad Historian” website via Google- got a link?

    • BSHistorian says:

      Chris – it’s a bit of a typo, for which I am full of forgiveness. I’m actually ‘BS Historian’ and can be found at

      Synchronicity is of course bunk, but nonetheless my comeback post that’s about to go up is also (again) about Vampire Killing Kits.

  3. I like the visual aesthetics of these vampire kits.

    Maybe this woman would have benefited from one of these kits.

  4. Skepacabra says:

    I’d love to have one of those kits in my home as a conversation piece…but not at that price.

  5. Ranson says:

    I’ll say this much, I love the steampunk-style of such props. I could assemble something similar for a much lower price for a conversation piece. Of course, if the Ghost Hunters showed up wearing something like this, I’d probably watch them, too.

  6. James says:

    Ummm, Mr. Edward you do realize that there are four books?? So there might just be another movie.

  7. Olivia says:

    It’s just a movie with two hot guys in it who are cash cows. Oh! And I watched you’re “crossing over” video. You are my savior! You showed me how to cross the street! LOOK BOTH WAYS XD just messing with you man.

  8. Tawnya Archer says:

    Very cool stuff.

    There will actually be two more movies. The last book is split in two. Sorry!

  9. JoeB says:

    I’m horribly disappointed by the lack of inclusion of this pic

  10. güncel blog says:

    There will actually be two more movies

  11. Victoria Salter says:

    I must say that I think this is extremely cruel. If vampires do exist, I’m sure there are plenty of good ones that only kill when absolutely necessary out there.
    Holy water must have something added to it because the words of anyone, even a priest or preacher, would not make it strong enough to hurt a vampire. Vampires are not necessary devil-worshippers or demons.
    Vampires are probably only afraid of crosses because they have frequently been stabbed through the hearts with them. They may also only get headaches from looking at them because of the stress of being reminded of their families and friends that may have been killed with these.
    If they do exist, they would probably have feelings too. They are probably plenty of peace-loving, friendly, caring individuals amongst them.

    • Victoria Salter says:

      Stories that feature good vampires include the movie of “Dark Shadows”, “The Little Vampire”, “Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant”, a 1914 story called “Aylmer Vance and the Vampire” and even “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer”.
      There are even at least some good vampires in the old legends and folklore as well. Although Stepehanie Meyer used this idea for her “Twilight” books, the legend of the Stregoni Benefici did exist before “Twilight” was ever dreamed up. This is a species of vampire that are, presumably, of the traditional kind (corpses that rise at night to drink the blood of the living), but they also help sick people, are sworn enemies with evil vampires and, presumably, try to refrain from killing people.