HE WHO NYUKS
Perhaps no slapstick comedy act is as beloved as the Three Stooges, the group of brothers (and others) led by Moe Howard that was active from 1920 to the 1970s—and remained alive in the minds of young Americans as a result of the constant airing of their nearly 200 short films.
The Stooges are, sadly, no more. Howard died in 1975, as did Larry Fine; Howard’s brothers Curly and Shemp died even earlier.
But now they are back—as vampires!
The saga begins in the goriest way possible: with a murder. Late last year, in Jicanda Park in Austin, Texas, a young woman was found dead, in her jogging clothes. The police found no evidence of sexual assault, or assault at all for that matter. The only visible wounds were two small puncture marks on her neck.
And she had been completely desanguinated, or drained of blood. “I had never seen anything like it,” said Charlotte Hunter, a detective with the Austin PD. “She was white as a sheet. Some of the older guys on the force were saying that it was a vampire attack. I thought they were joking. They weren’t.”
The only other piece of physical evidence near the victim’s body was a long straight black hair. “It looked like something from a wig,” said Hunter.
Two more murders occurred over the next month, following the same pattern: blood drained, wig-like hair found nearby. On the third, detectives caught a break.
“A man walking in the park saw a woman being attacked by three men,” said Hunter. “The witness screamed and scared the man away. But before they went, they began to squabble. One of them smacked the other on the forehead. The smacked one one tweaked the third one’s nose. And then the third one did a kind of thing where he went to poke the first one in the eyes, but the first one put his hand up and blocked the other one’s fingers. Then the first one said ‘Oh, a wise guy,’ and “Why I oughta’ and the third one started growling like a dog while the second one began to apologize to the first one.”
It was, in short, Stoogecraft.
“I have three older brothers and a bunch of uncles,” said Hunter, “so I’ve seen hundreds of hours of the Stooges. I always found them stupid, and I still do—but also murderous.’
DISMISSED AT FIRST
Hunter’s theory, dismissed at first by colleagues, began to fall into place. The hairs found near the victims appeared to come from Moe Howard’s wig. “I would say wigs but I think there was only one, worn over and over and over again,” said Hunter. The soil over Howard brothers’ graves in House of Peace and Hillside Memorial Parks had been disturbed.
And then came the big break. Harold Horwitz, an amateur film historian who had helped the department on cases in the past unearthed evidence of an aborted 1975 project called “The Stooges Meet The Real Dracula,” scheduled to be filmed in Transylvania. “They never started production,” said Horwitz. “The Stooges were too ill. But the studio flew over some Transylvanian actors who claimed to be actual vampires to meet with the Stooges. One of them, it seems, was telling the truth, and I think a dying Stooge got bit.”
Police are now hot on the trail of the Stooge vampires. They are using the public to call authorities if they see any men who resemble the Stooges, and not just the Mount Rushmore (Moe, Larry, Curly, and Shemp), but any of the additional and even unofficial members rotated into the troupe over the years (Joe Besser, Curly Joe DeRita, and even Emil Sitka, Frank Mitchell, and Mousie Garner). “We have no idea how deep this thing goes,” said Hunter.
One question remains. If the conversion to vampire occurred all the way back in 1975, why would the undead Stooges have waited 45 years to resurface? “Easy,” said Horwitz. “Showbiz. Know how to time your entrance for maximum effect.”