Vampires, werewolves, and time travelers—the stuff of horror movies, comic books, and bad television pilots, typically for shows that last about ten episodes before finding their way to the mass grave of cancellation, never to be resurrected. Such beings exist only in the childish fantasies of writers and artists, dreamers and gamer-geeks who refuse to grow up—or grow old. Right?
The silent screen gave to us some of the most memorable, iconic images in motion picture history: The Little Tramp, the Robot Maria from Lang's Metropolis (1927), Buster Keaton driving a locomotive across a collapsing bridge; and, of course, who could forget the still-incendiary Birth of a Nation, directed by celluloid pioneer D.W. Griffith?
The subject of necrophilia is one that is near and dear to my sordid spirit; there is something in the obsessive love for an idealized (albeit dead) paramour that strikes us as the very height of deeply touching romantic love.
We have written not one, but TWO small books (our novel Buried, as well as The Men Who Loved the Dead, an unpublished monograph on the subject.) about romantic necrophilia; "romantic necrophilia" as distinguished from "opportunistic necrophilia," or one of the other classifications given by Dr. Anil Aggrawal in his excellent text Necrophilia: Medico-Legal and Forensic Aspects. (Which, when I borrowed it through Interlibrary Loan, no doubt left the library staff even more leery of me than they previously had been.)
Necrophilia is a practice both odious and morbidly fascinating at the same stroke; mix in the idea of someone who simply cannot let go of their loved one at their passing; who will steal the body, painstakingly preserve it as it decays, build to it a shrine, speak for it, breathe for it, imbue it with a reanimated existence (in their psychopathic brain scape, of course) and you have the makings for a never ending slew of morbid gothic potboilers.
The practice was known in the ancient world. Greek tyrant Periander, Herod the Tetrarch (who had his wife Mariamne "preserved" in honey, where after he made love to her until the remains passed the point of being detestable) and other ancient world grotesques indulged in it. For our purposes, we will recount a small list of some of our personal faves.
So, without further adieu, let us recount the Wretched Romances of the Rotten, as we present for your edification and delectation, "Five Famous Necrophiles of Morgueland." (All men recounted here, but the curious should also not discount the contributions made by such female necro- pioneers as Joan of Castile and Karen Greenlee. No chauvinists we.)