The Schlimazel of Sebreim (Jewish Vampire Gothic Horror Comedy Insanity)


So, I was looking for a quick vampire read for students this J-Term for a project (yeah I teach, remember), and by chance came upon this interesting gem from Richard Elfman (yes, Danny Elfman’s brother of partial Oingo Boingo fame) entitled The Schlimazel of Sebreim. Though I was familiar with the name of both of these guys, this isn’t what mattered in this case. A vampire tale in the Jewish tradition with tons of ethnic references and craziness that combines classic Gothic horror with kick-ass kung fu shit in Hello Dracula (1985) style? Dang, why haven’t you read this yet? If anything, Schlimazel’s turn from a Bathory-ish aristocrat should stir up the loins before I continue.


“What happens next is not so clear in Schlimazel’s mind. A montage of dreams and images. The blur of spinning carriage wheels. Howling wolves and winding mountain roads. The beautiful lady cradling a shivering Schlimazel like Madonna and yarmulked child. Her penetrating eyes and crimson smile, ever so beguiling. And then – her kiss. And another – upon his neck! And pain. And ecstasy! Mostly ecstasy, he thinks. And vivid swirls of colors, black and red. And deep feelings of Life and Death. And finally, the woman baring her soft white, every so luscious, bosom. And with her fingernail, making a tiny mark upon the rosy nipple – drawing a drop of blood. And taking Schlimazel – to suckle him, like a baby. Oy! And did she say something about marriage?”


The title character is so-named due to his extremely ill luck, in addition to be beaten upon by local peasants in the dirty town of Sebreim (which apparently doesn’t exist and never existed based on a cursory search). In love with the beautiful Ludmilla (see above), his powers eventually draw them together leading into a final battle and the Boston Tea Party with everything from Yiddish wordplay to talking, mystical rats that assist in training of the battle arts. One of my favorite features of this novella is the clear cues to classic horror from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. I mean, this is legit Gothic in so many ways, yet its modern takes, Jewish humor and cultural references, bizarre action scenes, and tongue-in-cheek approach make it a blast. You’ll find yourself finishing it quicker than you likely thought possible at first glance. Hilarious debut from a budding literary bloom of insanity.


Richard Elfman Official Instagram

Written by Stanley, Devourer of Souls

The Schlimazel of Sebreim (2023)
Richard Elfman
Encyclopocalypse Publications
Cover Art: Yannick Bouchard
4.7 / 5