Tag Archives: horror

774. Learn English with a Scary Story (Camp Stabbiwaka by Peter Carlson)

Listen to Luke reading a text adventure story set in a summer camp. You can read the story at the same time as you listen, or just relax and have fun following this action packed horror story, and read do text adventure later. Includes some vocabulary explanations, differences between British & American English and some very dodgy jokes. Video version available.


Video Version (read the text on the screen – automatic subtitles are also available)

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Where’s the text? Where’s the transcript? It’s up there, look! 👆👆

371. In Conversation with Rob Ager from Liverpool (PART 2: Film Analysis / Hidden Meanings / Stanley Kubrick / Conspiracy Theory)

This is part 2 of my conversation with Rob Ager from Liverpool, who makes documentaries about films and publishes them himself on his website Collative Learning. If you haven’t heard part 1 yet, you should check that out before listening to part 2. In this conversation we talk about Rob’s approach to film analysis, hidden meanings in films, the work of Stanley Kubrick and the conspiracy theory about the moon landing. More details below.

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Click here to visit Rob Ager’s website collativelearning.com

In part 1 we talked about Liverpool and what it’s really like to live there. Then we talked about how he developed his approach to film analysis. In part 2 we talk about films in more detail, including some of the films which struck a chord with him when he was younger, and films which have inspired him to make his analysis videos. We focus on the work of Stanley Kubrick, a filmmaker whose work has really fascinated Rob over the years. We also discuss the idea that directors add hidden messages into their work, and how this is sometimes interpreted wrongly by viewers and critics. We also discuss the so-called conspiracy theory about Stanley Kubrick and the moon landing, and whether there are hidden messages about this in the film The Shining.

Links & Videos

Rob’s website http://www.collativelearning.com

Some interesting videos from Rob’s YouTube channel


173. The Curse of The Lambton Worm (Short Story)

Listen to a disturbing story from English folklore about a horrendous and mysterious worm.

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The Lambton Worm is a legend from the north east of England in the UK. The story takes place around the River Wear, in the town of Lambton and at Penshaw Hill which is between Durham and Sunderland in the north east of England. It is one of the area’s most famous pieces of folklore, having been adapted from written and oral tradition into pantomime and song formats, which are still performed to this day. I’m going to keep up that tradition here on Luke’s English Podcast by telling you my version of the story.

The tale is about a man called John Lambton, who was the heir to the Lambton Estate in County Durham, and his battle with a giant worm (dragon) that had been terrorising the local villages. As with most myths, details of the story change with each telling. I’m not from that part of England, but I love this story because I remember reading about it in a book of monsters that my brother used to have when we were kids. Remember before I told you about a ghost book that I used to own when I was a kid? Well, my brother had a similar book, from the same series, and it was all about monsters. I was fascinated by these books (Click this link to read some pages of those books!) So was my brother. I remember there was a picture of John Lambton fighting the worm, and a brief account of the story. It was fascinating, horrific and exciting for me as a kid, and the memory of the story has stayed with me. There’s just something about an old scary story that really excites me. I think this one must be a good one because it has endured for hundreds of years. It dates back to the time of the crusades, so about 1,000 years ago – medieval times. If a story survives that long, being told over and over again and being handed down through the generations, it must mean there must be something in it which interests people.

This is a local legend from country Durham and I expect it’s a strong part of their local culture. There’s an old folk song which tells the story, and it is still sung in old pubs by beer-drinking men with beards and acoustic guitars. I love those old folk songs. It’s proper traditional culture, as performed and told by real local people. I’m not from that part of the country, I’m from the midlands, and the south, but the story means something to me because of the connection I have with it from childhood. Also, I just think that you might like to hear it.

I’m going to tell you the story in my own way. It’s normal for folk tales like this to be changed by the storyteller, and there is no official version of the story – just a general outline. The details get adapted and improvised by each storyteller. So, I’m going to give you my version, which means that I will stick to the main elements of the story, but yes, as usual I will be improvising a lot of other details too. The challenge for me is to try and make it engaging, and entertaining and understandable for you. As well as practising your English, we can also consider what makes a good story. I think it’s about the passion of the storyteller, and the attention to certain details. Your challenge is to follow the story, and perhaps learn it well enough to be able to tell your friends, if you fancy that. Just remember to mention that the roots of this story are in the folklore of the county Durham area, in the North of England. It’s important to remember that this is a bit of local culture. If you’re from that area, and you’re  listening to this – I hope you don’t mind my version of the story, and realise that, really, I love this story too and I’m just adapting it a little bit for the purpose of letting people practise their English listening.

lambton worm pic

Illustration by John Dickson Batten from More English Fairy Tales.

The Main Elements of the Story
Note that I use past tenses to tell my story (past simple, past perfect & past continuous) but below the story is presented using present tenses.
John Lambton is the heir to the Lambton Estate – so he’s a young member of the gentry. A landowner from a fairly rich and well known family in the area.
He’s a rebellious character.
He skips church and he skips school.
He doesn’t care. He just loves fishing. He disrespects his parents.
He skips church one Sunday, and goes fishing.
He meets an old man – an old hermit, who tells him that no good will come of skipping church. He ignores the old man, and yet it puts him in a bit of a bad mood.
He catches nothing all morning.
Then, as the church bells are ringing for the end of service, he gets a bite on his line.
It’s a powerful bite and he has to wrestle hard to bring in the catch. The water crashes around and gets deeply churned up. He fights hard and brings in his catch.
It’s a truly disgusting and horrifying catch.
It’s a slimy and wriggly black worm. It’s dripping slime, it’s writhing and snapping, and it stinks.
He brings it to rest on the soil. It sits there breathing, completely malevolent. It has 9 holes down the side of its mouth, and John can’t really make sense of its other features. It’s really weird, and makes him feel sick.
He pukes, quite hard. What the hell is this thing?
He takes another look at it, and it opens its eye. It’s yellow and red, and it seems to look right into his soul.
This is a life-changing moment, although he doesn’t realise it.
At that moment, the old man reappears, and says with some certainty that he senses the work of the devil, and that Lambton is now responsible for this worm.
Lambton can’t throw it back, so he quickly puts it in his basket, to carry it home.
On the way back, the basket is so heavy and the worm keeps thrashing around inside it, and hissing. Even when it’s still, the basket seems impossible to carry. It’s so heavy, but also, he feels miserable. The good mood he was in at the beginning of the day has been replaced by a very grim feeling of depression. It’s like he’s suddenly aware of all the time he has wasted, and how everything seems quite hopeless, including his family  life.
He can’t take it any more, and feeling desperate, he chucks the worm into a nearby well. The worm struggles quite a lot, but down it goes. Lambton waits to hear the worm hit the bottom, and it does, after a pause, with a splash.
He quickly goes home.
Feeling guilty, and more aware of his responsibilities, he decides to join the army in order to fight in the crusades, as much out of guilt as duty to his family and the church.
He goes to Palestine to fight in the crusades. He’s away for 7 hard years in which he sees many things, makes many friends and sees many friends die in battle. He becomes a man.
Meanwhile, back at home, the worm is still alive in the well. The well becomes infected, and causes anyone who drinks from it to become violently ill, and die, with horrible symptoms.
The worm grows inside the well, and after it has reached a massive size, one moonlit night, it slides out from the well, and it’s massive. It wraps itself around the local Penshaw Hill – several times, and lies there waiting, warming itself in the morning sun. It’s a hideous and vicious creature. It has small legs, with claws on the end, which it uses to scrape and scratch the earth. It is incredibly long, and it slithers like a snake. It’s covered in smooth yet tough scales. Around its head it has a mane of rubbery spikes. The 9 holes that run along the side of its face, under its jaw, ooze a nasty black slime which burns the grass and sends an evil black smoke into the air. It coughs up the bones and remains of the bodies it has eaten, leaving this foul waste on the ground wherever it rests. Its eyes are yellow and deep, and malevolent. It has rows of razor sharp teeth like a shark’s except that they’re black and yellow, and his eyes, like that of a shark, roll back into its head when he takes a bite, leaving him looking white-eyed and blind during its moments of feeding frenzy.
It attacks a local farmer, squeezing him to death after he tries to fight it with his pitchfork. It then eats all his cattle, and his dead body, before returning to the hill.
It then terrorises the area, eating cattle and sheep, and wild animals.
The countryside becomes deathly silent, as it is all scared or killed by the worm. It’s a foul and sickening presence which seems to poison the earth wherever it goes.
Its confidence grows and it enters town.
The town mayor, as an attempt to distract it, empties all the milk supplies from the market into a trough in front of the town hall. The worm eats it all, and returns to the hill, where it sleeps.
The best men of the town get together a fighting force and arm themselves with the best weaponry they can find, and go to attack the worm, but it’s in vain as the worm is very strong and ruthless. Whenever anyone manages to slice the worm, the pieces, shuddering, just grow back together again. The worm seems indestructible.
For the next 7 years, the town gives the worm almost all of its supplies of milk in order to satisfy it. The worm grows bigger, and the town gets more and more exploited, until people are starving to death, and all life is sucked out of the place. When no milk is provided, the worm angrily attacks the residents, killing and eating men, women and children.
John Lambton returns from the crusades a scarred man, but a man nonetheless. He has learned how to fight, and he carries a sword and a suit of armour.
He sees the state of the town, and learns about the worm from his father.
He realises it is the same worm that he discarded all those years ago, and immediately realises that he is responsible for the curse and must fight the worm himself.
He visits a local wise woman for advice. She tells him that the worm has cursed him, his family and the town, and that only he can kill it.
She tells him to visit the blacksmith, and to have spikes and blades fitted to his armour, and that he must  lure the worm into the river Wear before doing battle.
She also tells him that to lift the curse, after killing the worm, he must kill the next living thing that he sees.
Lambton gets his special suit of armour made, and arranges with his father that when he has killed the worm, he will blow a note on his hunting horn as a signal that he has won and that the father must release Lambton’s favourite hunting hound. The hound will run straight  to him and Lambton will kill it, lifting the curse.
He heads towards the hill and finds the worm.
The worm recognises him and uncoils itself from the hill, hissing, puking black bile and generally being hideous.
Lambton realises how difficult this will be because this worm is really big and strong looking. The worm approaches and he backs away.
He walks backwards towards the river, the worm steadily moving nearer and nearer, flanking him. Lambton gets very tired just walking in the armour – which is extra-heavy because of the fittings.
Eventually, he enters the water, which is cold.
The worm slides down the bank and raises itself up to strike.
They fight and whenever the worm attempts to coil itself around Lambton, it gets sliced up on the blades and spikes.
Lambton is so tired that all he can do is just try not to be washed away by the current. He hacks at the worm and struggles to breath. The fumes from the worm are poisonous. Each time parts of the worm are hacked off, they are washed away, and eventually, just a section of the worm is left and Lambton hacks off its head. The pieces can’t join back together and the worm is no more.
Lambton blows a note on his horn, but his father is so happy to hear it that he forgets to release the hound and instead he runs to see John. Lambton sees him , and is dismayed. he can’t bring himself to kill his father, and so the go back to the house and he kills his hound.
The wise woman appears and tells him that despite killing the worm, he failed to lift the curse and that for 9 generations, the Lambtons will not die in their beds.
injured and sick, Lambton collapses.
That’s the end of the story.

What does this all mean? You tell me.

This curse seems to have held true for at least three generations, possibly helping to contribute to the popularity of the story.
1st generation: Robert Lambton, drowned at Newrig.
2nd: Sir William Lambton, a Colonel of Foot, killed at Marston Moor.
3rd: William Lambton, died in battle at Wakefield.
9th: Henry Lambton, died in his carriage crossing Lambton Bridge on 26 June 1761.
(General Lambton, Henry Lambton’s brother, is said to have kept a horse whip by his bedside to ward off violent assaults. He died in his bed at an old age.)

The Old Folk Song
Here is Tony Wilson singing the folk song in the local dialect
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsO7SeCvgMw&w=500&h=375]
Song Lyrics
Here are the lyrics with some meanings added too. Remember, this is sung in an old dialect. Not many people actually speak in this dialect any more, although there is a distinct accent from that region.

One Sunda morn young Lambton went
A-fishing in the Wear;
An’ catched a fish upon he’s heuk (=caught) (=his hook)
He thowt leuk’t vary queer. (=thought looked very strange)
But whatt’n a kind ov fish it was (=what kind of)
Young Lambton cudden’t tell-
He waddn’t fash te carry’d hyem, (=could not be bothered to carry it home)
So he hoyed it doon a well (=threw it down)
Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs, (=Be quiet, boys, shut your mouths)
An’ aa’ll tell ye aall an aaful story, (=I’ll tell you all an awful)
Whisht! lads, haad yor gobs,
An’ Aa’ll tel ye ‘boot the worm. (=about)
Noo Lambton felt inclined te gan (=go)
An’ fight i’ foreign wars.
He joined a troop ov Knights that cared
For nowther woonds nor scars, (=neither wounds)
An’ off he went te Palestine
Where queer things him befel,
An varry seun forgat aboot (=very soon forgot about)
The queer worm i’ tha well.
But the worm got fat an’ grewed an’ grewed,
An’ grewed an aaful size;
He’d greet big teeth, a greet big gob,
An greet big goggly eyes.
An’ when at neets he craaled aboot (=nights) (=crawled around)
Te pick up bits o’ news,
If he felt dry upon the road,
He’d milk a dozen coos. (=cows)
This feorful worm would often feed (=fearful)
On caalves an’ lambs an’ sheep,
An’ swally little bairns alive (=swallow) (=children)
When they laid doon te sleep.
An when he’d eaten aall he cud (=all he could)
An’ he had had he’s fill,
He craaled away an’ lapped he’s tail (=wrapped)
Ten times roond Pensha Hill.
The news ov this myest aaful worm (=most)
An’ his queer gannins on (=goings-on)
Seun crossed the seas, gat te the ears (=soon) (=got to)
Ov brave an’ bowld Sor John.
So hyem he cam an’ catched the beast, (=home he came and caught)
An’ cut ‘im in twe haalves, (=cut him in two-halves)
An’ that seun stopped hes eatin’ bairns
An’ sheep an’ lambs an’ caalves.
So noo ye knaa hoo aall the foaks (=now you know how all the folk)
On byeth sides ov the Wear (=both)
Lost lots o’ sheep an’ lots o’ sleep
An leeved i’ mortal feor. (=And lived in mortal fear)
So let’s hev one te brave Sor John (=let’s drink to brave Sir John)
That kept the bairns frae harm, (=from)
Saved coos an’ calves by myekin’ haalves (=making halves)
O’ the famis Lambton Worm. (=famous)

6. Vampires! (with vocabulary for describing feelings & emotions)

This podcast episode today is about vampires! It includes a lecture on the myth of the vampire in modern popular culture, with a language focus on really useful vocabulary and expressions to describe feelings and emotions.

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Transcript Available below.

Hello everyone. This podcast feature today is about vampires! The language section is about really useful vocabulary and expressions to describe feelings and emotions.

See below for the transcript for this episode. Just scroll down the page. After the language notes you can read the transcript. 

I hope you’re well. I know I said that I would talk about men & women in this podcast. Well, that podcast isn’t ready yet. Instead, I’ve done this one about vampires.  I can hear you asking the question “Why vampires??”. It’s because there are some movies out at the moment which are about vampires. Actually, there’s always a movie out which is about vampires! If you think about it, we love vampires, don’t we? People seem to think they are interesting. There are hundreds of movies and books about them. They’ve been in literature for hundreds of years… but why? That’s what this podcast is about.

The first part of the feature section is about Twilight. Twilight is a very popular American movie. It was recently released on DVD. It’s particularly popular with teenagers (especially teenage girls) and it’s about a girl who falls in love with a vampire. Hmm, interesting. It’s also a very successful book by Stephanie Meyer. I think it’s the most popular book on Amazon.com at the moment.

The second part of the feature section is about the history of the vampire in literature and movies. The information comes from a lecture by the British academic Sir Christopher Frayling (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Frayling) who is a brilliant and intelligent expert on popular culture. He gave a lecture a few years ago about vampires. I listened to it, and have summarised it for you here. It’s all about why we find vampires interesting, and why there are so many movies about vampires in the cinema every year.

The language section is about useful words and expressions to describe your emotions. Here is the language summary of those words and expressions. Remember, if you don’t use them – you lose them!!

Fear / Being Frightened

“I was absolutely petrified / terrified” – This just means, I was really really scared! “I was scared stiff” – This means I was really frightened, and I couldn’t move. “It frightened the life out of me” – This means, it really frightened me. “I jumped / It made me jump” – This is when something scares or surprises you and you jump into the air.

Shocked – I was really shocked

“I was speechless” – This means that I was so shocked that I didn’t know what to say. I was lost for words. “I was shocked and stunned” – I was so shocked that I didn’t know what to do. If you are stunned, it means you can’t move. “I couldn’t believe my eyes” – This is when you see something shocking and you can’t believe it! “I couldn’t believe my ears” – This is when you hear something, like some shocking news, and you don’t believe it!


“I was absolutely furious!” – I was really really angry. “I was so pissed off” – Pissed off means angry. It’s informal, and a bit rude. In American English they say “I was pissed”, but in British English ‘pissed’ means ‘drunk’. “I lost my temper” – I became angry. We never use the word ‘temper’ on its own. We only use it in expressions like this. “Don’t lose your temper” “You’re so bad tempered” “I hit the roof” – This is an idiom which means ‘I became really really angry’ The roof is the top part of your house, so if you hit the roof, it means you fly through the top of the house with anger!


“I was absolutely delighted” – This means I was really really happy. “I was chuffed (to bits)” – Chuffed means really happy or pleased. It is informal English. It isn’t rude. “I was over the moon” – This is an idiom which means I was really really happy.


“I was absolutely devastated” – This means I was really really disappointed. I was so disappointed, that I was nearly destroyed. Very serious. “I was gutted” – Again, this means I was really disappointed. ‘Gutted’ is an informal expression. It isn’t rude.


“I was absolutely heart-broken” – I was really really sad, like when your girlfriend has left you… So sad… :( “I was really down in the dumps” – This means I was depressed & sad. E.g. after my girlfriend left me, I was down in the dumps for weeks & weeks.

OK, so that’s it for the language section. Remember: you can email me and ask me more questions if you want to: luketeacher@hotmail.com


Episode 6 – Vampires!

You are listening to Luke’s English podcast. For more information visit teacherLuke.wordpress.com.

Hello to everyone out there in podcast land. Thanks very much for downloading the podcast. It’s a Saturday lunch time right now and it’s a beautiful day outside, the sun is shining, the sky is blue and I am sitting here indoors in front of a computer. So obviously I have got my priority to write, haven’t I? I think that as soon as I finish this I am gonna go outside and enjoy the good weather because to be honest, here in London, the weather isn’t always good. You’ve got to try and make the most of it when it is good, so I shouldn’t be sitting here in front of the computer, should I? I should be out there enjoying the sunshine. So I will be doing that soon.

So first of all I would like to say thank you again for downloading the podcast. On my podcast page I can see all of the downloads that I have had all over the world and it’s fantastic actually because I get like a map  of the world with little flags that show where I’ve been downloaded and people are listening to me in Canada, somewhere way up in the north of Canada, I’ve being listened to in the middle of America , in Toronto, Ireland, all over the UK, in Spain, in Algiers in North Africa – as well as there I am being downloaded in Holland. Some people are listening to me in Luxembourg. Let’s see where else: Milan in Italy, Greece, Istanbul in Turkey. I am being listened to in Kazakhstan and a couple of places in China. Some people are downloading me in South Korea. I am being listened to in Japan in Tokyo and in Sapporo as well so it’s really great to be able to communicate with people all over the world, like this and I am enjoying it very much. Don’t forget to send me a message as well. I really like to hear from you.

Let’s see, in today’s podcast in the feature section I am going to be talking about vampires. Now I know that before I said I was going to be talking about men and women. Well, actually I have changed my mind. I am not going to talk about men and women in this podcast. It’s going to be about vampires instead. That’s because I was planning to talk about men and women but that’s not ready. That podcast isn’t ready yet. I’ve interviewed some people about that but I’d like to interview some more people as well. So it’s not ready yet. You have to wait until probably next time to hear about men and women. So instead this one is about vampires. Now that’s because there are a couple of movies which have come out recently. the first one being ‘Twilight’ which is an American film which recently has been released on DVD and another film is a Swedish movie called: ‘Let the right one in’ and they are both vampire movies, both very popular and so I am going to first of all talk about Twilight which is this very very popular vampire movie –  particularly popular with  teenagers – and then I am going to be talking about vampires in popular culture, the history of vampires in literature and movies and talking about why are vampires so popular. What do they really mean? What is it about vampires that makes them interesting for us, okay?

So that’s the feature section.

Then in the language section I am going to teach you some useful vocabulary you can use to describe emotions and feelings. That’s like different ways of describing being scared or being frightened – being sad, being shocked, being very happy, being very angry, being disappointed. Lots of really good useful language that you can use just when you are describing things,  when you are describing things that happened to you. I will write the vocabulary and the definitions on the web page and then you can start using them and making them part of your normal vocabulary. So you can look forward to that in the language section.

I know what you are – you are impossibly fast and strong. Your skin is pale and white and ice cold.

Are you afraid?

Only afraid of losing you

That’s a clip from the movie Twilight and if you didn’t catch that -she said: I know what you are – you are impossibly fast and strong. Your skin is pale white and ice cold.

And he says: are you afraid? and she said: I am only afraid of losing you.

Mmmm, well she should be afraid, really because it turns out that this guy is a vampire, believe it or not. Now, Twilight is a massively popular film. It’s huge. It’s particularly popular with teenage girls. It is based on a series of books by Stephenie Meyer. The books are currently the number one bestsellers on amazon.com. It’s a whole series of books and they are all very very popular all over the world. Basically, this is the new Harry Potter and the first movie which was released last year is massive. Okay, especially with teenagers and especially with teenage girls. Now Twilight is about a girl called Bella, whose parents split up. So she has to move to a small town with her dad and she has to go to a new school. Now, normally in these Hollywood films where a teenager has to go to a new school, you get the usual problems.- for example they find it difficult to make  friends – perhaps they get bullied by nasty members of the school. But this doesn’t really happen in this film . Bella goes to the new school and  actually the other kids are very friendly. She gets on very well with them. But what happens is that, she thinks that the other kids at the school are actually a bit simple. They seem to be quite sort of a  basic, a bit stupid really. She notices another group of people at the school who seem a bit strange and a bit mysterious and they don’t hang around with all the other kids at the school and they look very – kind of romantic looking. They look a bit gothic and very mysterious and interesting and one of them in particular. His name is Edward. She becomes very fascinated with and  – let’s see – she quickly becomes very attracted to Edward and she thinks he is very fascinating but she doesn’t know why he keeps avoiding her. Now, like I said before it turns out that well, he is a vampire. I don’t think I am giving away any secrets about the film there. It is a vampire movie. So it turns out he is a vampire. But he is not a bad vampire. A lot like someone like Dracula for example because him and his little vampire family – they are not bad vampires, they are good vampires because they don’t kill people, they don’t drink people’s blood – what they do is, they catch animals and they drink animal blood and they avoid people if they can. Okay, so, they are basically good vampires. Now basically what happens is that Bella and Edward – they are obviously very attracted to each other – they fall in love. But they are very afraid that they will lose control over each other because basically if Edward  loses control – if he gets to passionate, then he won’t be able to stop himself and he bites her. Okay?

So what we’ve got is a kind of teenage romance high school movie with a vampire scene and romantic elements with the fact that these two people love each other but they can’t really be together because he is a vampire.

Now actually I saw this film in Norway. I was in Oslo a couple of months ago and it was a Saturday night and I had nothing to do because I was there on my own and I decided to go and see this film. It was showing at the local cinema and I went to the cinema and before the film started, I was almost alone in the cinema – so I thought – okay fine, I’m just gonna be able to sit here quietly and watch the movie.

But slowly but surely more and more people arrived  and the cinema basically filled up with lots of teenage Norwegian girls and me. Right? So I am sitting there on my own, surrounded by   teenage Norwegian girls, right? Which I mean I am not complaining or anything –   it wasn’t bad, but it was a bit strange. And the movie starts and the first time you see Edward these girls just went crazy. I mean they were all giggling and laughing and talking to each other. Now obviously Edward is a very popular character with the girls out there and the actor actually is called –  I can’t remember his name,   I think he’s called Robert Pattinson and he’s been in a couple of other movies. Most famously he played Cedric Diggory in a  Harry Potter series and in this film he is made to look very handsome indeed and is very popular with teenage girls. And like I said before Twilight is a very very popular vampire film.

Now, what I’d like to do now is just talk about vampires in movies and in literature and what I’m going to say here is based on a lecture that I heard by the great academic whose name is Christopher Frayling, actually Sir Christopher Frayling. He is also the head of the society of arts here in the UK and he is a great academic and an  expert on popular culture. So that’s things like literature and movies and he gave a lecture about vampires in popular culture. So I am going to give you a kind of summary of what he’d said.

So the vampire myth really started in the 18th century and in that time there were stories that people told each other that involves vampires and blood suckers and so on and at that time the vampire was a kind of – let see – a countryside figure, a rural folklore figure from agricultural society, okay? So actually at that time vampires were working class labourers who worked in the countryside and the vampire story when it first started involved lots of superstition and some very primitive societies, Okay? So it’s a kind of…it was part of stories that people told each other by word of mouth and the vampire was related to a kind of folklore myth. These stories were based in Eastern Europe basically. Then in 1816 on Lake Geneva there was a very famous meeting of a number of famous horror writers. They included Byron, Shelley and Mary Godwin. They had their summer holiday there at Lake Geneva and the weather was terrible, so what they did for entertainment was they told each other very scary horror stories. And these horror stories became some of the most famous horror stories that we know now. Things like Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde I think and as well as that the first vampire story which was told by Byron. Now his story was about a Lord who went around corrupting young men. So that means he went around, making these young men immoral, interested in sex and alcohol but not interested in the church. The story was set in Greece where this Lord finally died a romantic death, a bit like Dracula and then is brought back to life in the  moonlight. So it’s really the first vampire story that showed vampires as we know them now and it was different to the old folklore stories because in the Byron story the vampire is not a rural character not in the country side biting sheep and things. Now the vampire is a high class character and is sexualised, a kind of sexual person. Also this new vampire story kind of looks at the bad reputation that upper class aristocrats had in the 19th century. So then later in the 19th century the story gets repeated and rewritten by lots of people. Some of the things change for example you get female vampires as well and some things like that. Some of the things stay the same, for example the location. Pretty much all of these stories are based on the edge of western catholic Europe,  so somewhere out  on the edge were…we  don’t quite know what happens on the edge of western Europe. Now the most famous telling of the vampire story is Dracula by Bram Stoker. This is the version that everybody knows and which has been repeated many many times. Now in the Bram Stoker story Dracula all the basic elements of a vampire story are introduced, okay? So the vampire is a powerful man, a sort of Lord or aristocrat, someone in upper class society related to the aristocracy, okay? He has to bite people and then they become a vampire. He bites someone on the neck, he has sharp teeth, sharp canine teeth. Vampires hate crosses. Sunlight kills them, You can kill a vampire with a wooden stake which is kind of like a sharp stick and you stab the vampire in the heart and that can kill them. You can also kill a vampire by chopping his head off. Vampires in this story can change shape, they can become a bat or perhaps a dog or a wolf. Now, all of these classic vampire elements get repeated in lots of movies after that and lots of other stories. And this is really what we now know a vampires to be. One of the most famous images of Dracula comes from the British Hammer horror movie called Dracula which star the actor Christopher Lee as Dracula and often when people think of Dracula they see the Christopher Lee performance. And Christopher Lee in the movie is a very tall handsome charming Dracula with the sharp teeth. Now, later on, after this image of Dracula is produced by movies and by Bram Stoker, later on the vampire becomes domesticated which means he becomes closer to  home and more similar to us. So this is done for example in books like Steven King’s book ‘Salem’s Lot’ and also  other Hollywood movies. So the whole vampire thing gets updated and is put into contemporary modern America – as sort of normal every day set in. So this is a new way of making vampires frightening and scary. So for example a vampire can live on your street or even in your house. They don’t just live in a big castle in another country somewhere or in the countryside. They can live in your town, okay? Also the vampire becomes americanised, so that’s put into normal American society. Now this is a very common pattern in horror stories. Many horror myths start as a European folk myth so not written down by but shared by word of mouth, then the stories get written by 19th century British writers and then later they are made into American Hollywood movies and they are updated. So it’s a very common pattern in all. And one that we can see has happened with vampires. So, now the vampire is an ordinary person like a teenager in a high school for example. So he gets things like the TV programme ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ or movies like Twilight, for example.  And first of all this is more scary because it makes it a bit more realistic but also teenagers, for example, who are the target market for these vampire movies usually – teenagers can relate to vampires and vampire movies and then these movies are about issues that effect normal American people, okay?

So the vampire has really changed and it has survived through from old old eastern European folks stories through the 19th century British horror writers into modern day American Hollywood films. So the vampire is very flexible, very adaptable and the vampire can survive. You can’t kill it, you just can’t kill the vampire. It will always survive in popular culture because for some reason it’s very meaningful for us and we can see lots of important issues, meaningful issues to us in the vampire myth. So the vampire movie is like a metaphor. So on the surface it’s a scary movie but underneath that the vampire movie allows us to think about lots of other issues and a vampire movie can be about more than just being scared,  but it’s also about a number of different issues that relate to us in society, okay?

Right, so I am going to at …just quickly look at some of the themes that you can find in many vampire stories. So one of the first themes that you see in a vampire film is the theme of disease. Now this is a very old thing which you can see in the first vampire film which is called ‘Nosferatu’. That’s a German film from 1921. In that film the vampire is presented  as like a plague of rats. So the vampire’s bite is like the bite of a disease which infects your blood. The disease spreads as well  from person to person through the blood. Although there is a sexual connection with seduction and the exchange of body fluids.  So in that sense Dracula or vampires can be seen as a metaphor for even something like the aids virus which is a big issue in society at the moment. For example if you look at Francis Ford Coppola’s  movie which is called Bram Stoker’s Dracula. There are scenes in that movie which show a doctor looking at someone’s blood under the microscope and seeing that it’s infected by vampire’s kind of micro organisms. So certainly in a lot of vampire books and movies they are a metaphor for disease in society.

Also sexuality is a big theme in vampire stories and movies. Vampires are in a way a safe way for us to look at eroticism. So, the vampire really is a very sexual creature. Often he seduces his victim, he bites women and then turns them into whores, he appears in women’s bedrooms, he bites on the neck, he sucks out body fluids. These are all very sexual images. Also the desire to bite and it’s an __________ like sexual desires which is part of a sinful act.

Now as well as those themes you have a theme of the fear of death or growing old. So vampires can represent both the fear of death and the fantasy of immortality. That’s never dying. So if you like, beating death. So by becoming a vampire you can escape death but you have to hide from society and kill people. So there is the tragedy of becoming a vampire which combines the fantasy of never dying with the tragedy of having to escape from society. Also  the tragedy of seeing your loved ones grow old and die and you can see that theme in the famous movie with Tom Cruise and Brett Pit called interview with a vampire which deals with the whole theme of immortality and the tragedy of having to kill in order to survive and stay immortal.

You can also see the theme of drugs in some of these vampire films. Being a vampire means that you have to live at night. You become very pale skinned. You need to drink blood in order to stay alive and if you don’t, you get sick. So in that sense it’s similar to kind of heroin addiction perhaps.

Now, movies like the Lost boys with Kiefer Sutherland which is an 1980th Hollywood movie. A great movie. I used to watch it when I was a kid with my brother. We loved it. Movies like the Lost Boys are about loss of innocence and the pressure to copy people of your age. So do the same as people of your age. There are about temptation and the night time drug culture of young Californians.

In the Lost Boys it’s about two brothers who moved to a small seaside town in California and how one of them becomes seduced by a group of vampires who live in the area. And for me it’s like – the subtext of the film is like he becomes a drug addict. If you watch the film and imagine-  he is not a vampire but a drug addict it becomes very meaningful, I think.

Okay, so you can see how vampires are kind of very important in a way in our culture and how meaningful they are. It’s interesting how the vampire film consists to survive. It never dies. Instead it gets revised, it changes and it also becomes a way for us to look at various issues in society.

So if you haven’t seen Twilight then I ….I can recommend it. I thought it was very sweet story about first love and how it can be very hard to lose control of your feelings when you first fall in love as a teenager. It’s also about the danger of passion and your emotions and the power of attraction and how it can be very confusing and frightening when you first fall in love because the feelings can be very strong and that can be quite frightening. Now, I thought the film was quite corny, it was a bit embarrassing sometimes.

Some of the sequences were a little bit funny but basically I think it is a sweet film and I think it is a good film and so if you haven’t seen it I recommend it. There is also another Swedish film which is in the cinemas at the moment called: ‘Let the right one in’ and I haven’t seen that but apparently it’s excellent. All the critics are saying this, that it is very very good vampire film, indeed. So I hope to see that very soon. If you have seen that and if you have seen Twilight then send me a message. Let me know what you thought of both of those films. Remember the email address is Luketeacher@hotmail.com and I look forward to hearing from you.

Okay, so this is the language section and like I said at the beginning of the podcast this is going to be about expressing your emotions, describing your feelings. Now all of the language in this section you could use for example when you are telling a story about something or when you are describing an experience that you had. So all the examples  I am going to give will be in the past tense. So you might use this language for example if you are describing an experience like for example how you felt about your exam results or how you felt when you first heard about some news. So  the areas I am going to talk about are being frightened or being scared, being shocked, feeling angry, feeling happy, feeling disappointed and feeling sad.

So obviously very very common emotions and very very common in our daily experience and when you’re describing your experiences it is very very good to use these colourful descriptive language to express how you felt at the time. So all the language I am going to teach you I will write on my web page so you can see all of the expressions on the web page with some definitions. Don’t forget the web page is teacherLuke.podamatic.com  and you can see all of it explained for you there.

So we’ll start with fear or being scared.Being frightened. So one thing you could say if you were very scared, you could say: I was really scared or I was really frightened, of course. You can also say: I was absolutely petrified. I was absolutely petrified. So petrified is an extreme adjective means very very scared. I was absolutely petrified. You could say: I was absolutely terrified, as well. Another thing you could say is: I was scared stiff. I was scared stiff. That means you was so scared, so frightened that you couldn’t move, right? I was scared stiff.

Another one would be: It frightened the life out of me. It frightened the life out of me. That means: I was really really scared. Basically :It frightened the life out of me.

Another one is sometimes when you are very scared, when something scares you – you jump – you kind of go “huuu!”, so you could say: I jumped or it made me jump.

Let me give you a couple of examples.

For example: I woke up last night because I could hear noises from downstairs. I thought it was robbers in my house. I was absolutely petrified. I couldn’t move. I was scared stiff. I managed to pluck up the courage to go downstairs. I picked up a cricket bat and I went into the kitchen. I could hear some really strange noises so I went through the kitchen and suddenly my cat jumped down from the window. “Huu” it made me jump! Right? It frightened the life out of me. I thought it was a robber but it was just my cat. Now in that story I said I plucked up the courage to do something. So if you pluck up the courage it means even if you are scared you kind of become brave enough to do something. I plucked up the courage to do something.

The next one is being shocked


So for example when you hear some really shocking news like for example if you hear on the radio that someone has died or a famous person has died like if you  heard on the radio that John Lennon had died, for example you could say: I was really shocked or you could say: I was absolutely speechless, I was absolutely speechless. That means: I couldn’t say anything. I was so shocked, right? You can say. I was shocked and stunned, I was shocked and stunned and they always go together.

Stunned means that you couldn’t move. You were so shocked, you didn’t know what to do. I was shocked and stunned. And the other expression is: I couldn’t believe my eyes. I couldn’t believe my eyes. So that is if you see something shocking and it’l like: Is that real? I couldn’t believe my eyes. Like when I saw the UFO I just couldn’t believe my eyes. You also could say: I couldn’t believe my ears. That’s if you heard some very shocking news. So for example when I heard on the radio that John Lennon had died, I was absolutely speechless. I didn’t know what to say. When I won the lottery I was shocked and stunned. I didn’t know what to do. And, let’s see, when I saw my exam results, when I saw that I failed my exams, I couldn’t believe my eyes. All right?

The next one is about being angry.

Being angry. Of course you can say: I was really angry. But you could also say as an extreme emotion, you could say: I was absolutely furious. I was absolutely furious, which means very very angry. A slightly rude expression would be: I was really pissed off. I was really pissed off. And that’s a British English informal expression which is a little bit rude to mean, I was angry. Now in America they would say I was  pissed, just pissed, not pissed off. Now in British English I was pissed means I was drunk. So there is a difference between the British and American English.  In British English we say: I was really pissed off. Pissed off. A little bit rude and a bit informal. If you become angry you could say: I lost my temper. I lost my temper and that means I became angry, okay? And another kind of idiom expression you can use is: I hit the roof. That means I became really angry. I hit the roof. So for example, when my dad heard that I had failed my exams he was absolutely furious. He was so pissed off. He really lost his temper and he hit the roof and was very angry with me.

Now, the next one is about being happy.

Now, of course you can say: I was really really happy, but a more extreme adjective you can use is delighted. I was absolutely delighted. I was absolutely delighted. Probably a good idea to repeat that, right? Practising it by repeating. I was absolutely delighted. An informal British English expression is the word chuffed. Chuffed to bits. I was chuffed to bits. You can read that on the web page if you don’t know how to spell it. I was chuffed to bits. And an idiom you can use when you are really happy would be: I was over the moon. I was over the moon. So for example: When I passed the exam I was absolutely delighted, or if you are a girl you can say: When he asked me to marry him, I was over the moon. And when I got the job I was chuffed to bits.

The next one is about being disappointed.

Being disappointed, okay? So, obviously you can say: I was really disappointed. But you can also use an extreme adjective which is devastated. Devastated. That’s when you are really really disappointed like really badly disappointed. I was absolutely devastated. So for example: When my dog died – I really loved my dog – right, I really loved it. When my dog died I was absolutely devastated. An informal British expression is: Gutted, gutted. I was absolutely gutted which means really really disappointed. So for example, when England lost the football game, I was gutted. I was absolutely devastated. Because obviously football is very important here in the UK, especially in England.

The next one is about being sad


So obviously you can say: I was really really sad, but an extreme adjective would ‘heartbroken’, heartbroken. I was absolutely heartbroken. And an expression you can use to describe someone who is sad is down in the dumps. Down in the dumps. Down in the dumps. He was really down in the dumps. That means really sad, so when my girlfriend left me, I was absolutely heartbroken and then for weeks I was really down in the dumps.

So there it is, some useful language for you to express your emotions and opinions when you’re describing your experiences. Of course you should try to use some of those expressions when you are chatting, when you are speaking in English. It will make you sound  like a more advanced speaker. So, you might not be able to remember all of them, but I’ve given you lots of useful expressions there. Try to use some of them. You don’t have to use them all. Just try to use some of them. Look at my web page you will see all of the expressions written, so you can see what the words look like and how to spell them and you can check them in the dictionary as well if you like.

But that’s the end of the language section and it’s also the end of the podcast. And so I am going to end with a final question: I’d like you to tell me – let’s see – okay

Two questions. One question is: Have you seen the movie ‘Twilight’ or have you seen the other movie ‘Let the right one in’ ? And if you have seen them what did you think of them. Also have you read the book Twilight. For it’s a very very popular book. It’s I think, one of the most popular books in the world on  amazon.com at the moment. So if you’ve read that what do you think of the book? Is it better than the movie or worse and the second question is: Tell me about something, tell me about an experience that was very frightening or maybe disappointing or something that made you very happy. Tell me about it. I’ll read it out on the podcast and you can tell the rest of the world about your experience that way. Okay? So I hope you enjoyed that podcast. I hope you found it interesting. Don’t forget to download and listen to more podcasts in  the future and to download and listen to the old ones again. I recommend that you listen to them several times. Listen to them more than once cause it’s a really good way of practising your listening.

If you have any suggestions for me, if you want me to speak about something or if you want me to do something differently just let me know and I will try to do those things.

Okay, so that’s the end of the podcast. See you later.


Thanks for downloading Luke’s English podcast. Don’t forget to email me at Luketeacher@hotmail.com.

Still want more vampire action? Here’s a really interesting documentary on vampires by Sir Christopher Frayling.