Maila Elizabeth Syrjäniemi, known professionally as Maila Nurmi, was a Finnish-American actress and television personality who created the campy 1950s character Vampira. The daughter of a Finnish immigrant, Nurmi was raised in Oregon and relocated to Los Angeles in 1940 with hopes of being an actress.
Vampira: Dark Goddess of Horror Book
Vampira: Dark Goddess of Horror Book:
The new book from award-winning historian W. Scott Poole is a whip-smart piece of pop culture detailing the story of cult horror figure Vampira that actually tells the much wider story of 1950s America and its treatment of women and sex, as well as capturing a fascinating swath of Los Angeles history.
In Vampira, Poole gives us the eclectic life of the dancer, stripper, actress, and artist Maila Nurmi, who would reinvent herself as Vampira during the backdrop of 1950s America, an era of both chilling conformity and the nascent rumblings of the countercultural response that led from the Beats and free jazz to the stirring of the LGBT movement and the hardcore punk scene in the bohemian enclave along Melrose Avenue. A veteran of the New York stage and late nights at Hollywood’s hipster hangouts, Nurmi would eventually be linked to Elvis, Orson Welles, and James Dean, as well as stylist and photographer Rudi Gernreich, founder of the Mattachine Society and designer of the thong. Thanks to rumors of a romance between Vampira and James Dean, his tragic death inspired the circulation of stories that she had cursed him and, better yet, had access to his dead body for use in her dark arts.
In Poole’s expert hands, Vampira is more than the story of a highly creative artist continually reinventing herself, but a parable of the runaway housewife bursting the bounds of our straight-laced conventions with an exuberant display of camp, sex, and creative individuality that owed something to the morbid New Yorker cartoons of Charles Addams, the evil queen from Disney’s Snow White, and the popular, underground bondage magazine Bizarre, and forward to the staged excesses of Madonna and Lady Gaga. Vampira is a wildly compelling tour through a forgotten piece of pop cultural history, one with both cultish and literary merit, sure to capture the imagination of Vampira fans new and old.
Physical Info: 0.8″ H x 8.9″ L x 5.9″ W (0.75 lbs) 244 pages
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- Catalog#: 14BV200
- Theme(s): Vampires, Demons & Freaks
Vampira, The Movie, and Me
When Maila Nurmi took to the TV airwaves in 1954 as the prototypical gothic scream queen Vampira, a national craze was set off. An instant icon of female power and sexuality, Vampira drew some of the most revolutionary figures of the day to her creator, at various times, Maila’s intimates included James Dean, Elvis Presley and Marlon Brando, among many others. But the woman behind the façade was both far more intricate and much more fragile than the character that made her famous.
This Special Edition includes: Restoring Vampira,a new documentary on Vampira and Me’s digital preservation of a newly discovered Vampira kinsescope unseen for 56 years – Remembering James Dean; a seven minute interview outtake of Maila Nurmi recounting her experience of the day James Dean died – On-camera interview outtake with Jane Satan of Satan’s Cheerleaders, the punk band Maila Nurmi fronted for two singles in the 1980s – Magic in the Air, a vintage look at TV technology circa 1955, when VAMPIRA was at her broadcast zenith – A walk down the red carpet at VAMPIRA AND ME’s 2012 Hollywood premiere. Plus: – A comprehensive audio interview with filmmaker R. H. Greene conducted by VAMPIRA AND ME Tumblr mistress Sam Fullerton – A gallery of specially created vintage; VAMPIRA AND ME lobby cards–the complete 8 card set, just like they would have made back when Vampira first aired in the 1950s.
Punk Rock, Alt, Hipster, Goth and a far out chick long before such forms became the norm, Vampira’s cool transcends the decades. Murmi is sympathetic, likeable and quite intriguing; she is well worth spending an hour and a half with. –Staci Layne Wilson, HORROR.COM
Vampira And Me works on multiple levels: as a Hollywood history lesson, as a portrait of mid-fifties Americana, and as a long-overdue tribute to the endlessly fascinating Nurmi, whom Greene befriended during the autumn of her years. –Marc Savlov, AUSTIN CHRONICLE
Thoroughly engrossing, R.H. Greene’s docu succeeds admirably thanks to the charismatic oncamera presence of a 74-year-old Nurmi. –Ronnie Scheib, VARIETY
The true life story of the world’s first TV horror movie host is unveiled in this labor-of-love documentary. Bonus features include: Director commentary, Screening lectures, Music video, Trailer, Outtakes, “Joe Flynn Show” Vampira episode and more.
This is it! The most popular Atomic Age cult film of the twentieth century. Winner of two Golden Turkey Awards for Worst Picture and Worst Director of All Time, the immortal Edward D. Wood, Jr.! It’s all here, the not-so-special effects, aliens in skating skirts zooming around in string-powered flying saucers to implement the ninth plan of Earth’s conquest (the first eight failed) with an army of zombies (well, three actually), Vampira, Tor Johnson and Bela Lugosi in his legendary “postmortem” performance (with Ed’s chiropractor standing in for Bela after his death). This truly original movie, Ed Wood’s “Citizen Kane,” is a hymn to all those who have ever tried to create something intelligent and meaningful, only to fail miserably every step of the way.
Sometimes a movie achieves such legendary status that it can’t quite live up to its reputation. Plan 9 from Outer Space is not one of these movies. It is just as magnificently terrible as you’ve heard. Plan 9 is the story of space aliens who try to conquer the Earth through resurrection of the dead. Psychic Criswell narrates (“Future events such as these will affect you in the future!”) as police rush through the cemetery, occasionally clipping the cardboard tombstones in their zeal to find the source of the mysterious goings-on. More than just a bad film, Plan 9 is something of a one- stop clearinghouse for poor cinematic techniques: The time shifts whimsically from midnight to afternoon sun, Tor Johnson flails desperately in an attempt to rise from his coffin, and flying saucers zoom past on clearly visible strings. Fading star Bela Lugosi tragically died during filming, but such a small hurdle could not stop writer-producer-director Ed Wood. Lugosi is ingeniously replaced with a man who holds a cape across his face and might as well have “NOT BELA LUGOSI” stamped on his forehead. Plan 9 is so sweetly well- intentioned in both its message and its execution that it’s impossible not to love it. And if you don’t, well, as Eros says, “You people of Earth are idiots!” –Ali Davis