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I vant to track your bleh
October 31, 2011 5:13 AM   Subscribe

At no point in Bela Lugosi's iconic role in the 1931 film Dracula does he make the sound "Bleh!" So why is "Bleh!" so deeply associated with Dracula in popular culture? Followup with more examples.
posted by Horace Rumpole (50 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Drac Search (turn your sound up)
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 5:21 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why was this completely sensible theory:
The first, and likely the most commonly held, suggests that the "word" slowly seeped into our lexicon whilst we absorbed countless indistinguishable impressions of legendary Dracula performer Bela Lugosi. Nathaniel Reha promoted this theory, lifting a quote from the Straight Dope boards: “Actually, thinking about it a sec, I’m hearing a hundred-odd bad impersonations of Bela Lugosi in my head, doing the “I vant to suck your blood!” line. Blood, in the bad accent, becomes ‘bluh’ (with a shortened, almost silent, d or t sound at the end of the word), which just becomes the one readily identifiable word when you think of someone’s bad Hungarian/Transylvanian vampire-speak.”
Dismissed with this incomprehensible sentence:
Though listener John McGlothlin notes “[I]f your letter-writer-inner was convinced that ‘bluh’ did not originate in strict canon, that would rule out it stemming directly from Lugosi’s accent in the 1930’s Dracula film.”
posted by DU at 5:30 AM on October 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is awesome. I was a vampire every year for Halloween as a 6-11 year old, and I made the foolish, stupid mistake of using 'bluh' in my impression as I amused my neighbors and relatives.

Not only am I disappointed in myself, but also in my entire family for not correcting me as a child vampire.
posted by glaucon at 5:38 AM on October 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Bleh! This is wonderful.

Among a close group of childhood friends "Bleh!" became "Blah!" which became a substitute for "Hello." I can't track why that happened, but I think the cartoons listed in the second link may have had something to do with it. Was there something going on in "Danger Mouse" on this theme too?

Anyway, I'm 35, and I still greet a friend or two with "Blah!" This may only sort of explain why -- it surely doesn't explain how it transferred from cartoons to us, let alone why it's persisted -- but it's definitely a more coherent explanation than any other that I've got. So, um, thank you for that.
posted by .kobayashi. at 5:48 AM on October 31, 2011


I am, of course, familiar with the Dracula bleh, but I've never really thought about it, and never characterized it in my brain as bleh. I don't know quite how I've been classifying it all these years, but bleh is not it.

Now all I can think of are obstinate little kid Draculas faced with eating brussels sprouts at dinner. Bleh, indeed!
posted by phunniemee at 5:58 AM on October 31, 2011


A friend posted this on my Facebook wall the other day: the song Bleh by Samm Levine and Eban Schletter.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:59 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn't ever know this was a thing -- I thought it began and ended with Joe Flaherty's Count Floyd on SCTV. "Scaaary story, cheeldren! Bleh! Bleh!"
posted by Shepherd at 6:04 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dracula, eh?

- pointy teeth? check
- drinking blood? check
- transylvania? check
- stakes through the heart? check
- severely allergic to sunlight? check
- bleh!... bleh?... WTF?
posted by metaxa at 6:06 AM on October 31, 2011 [9 favorites]


I never post... Letters! Ah ha ha!
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:06 AM on October 31, 2011


Didn't the Count on Sesame Street say blah (or bleh)?
posted by stinkycheese at 6:30 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am reminded of Jessamyn's phrase "and that thread was full of people saying BLEAH!"
posted by wheelieman at 6:30 AM on October 31, 2011


Hmm. "Bleh" doesn't really seem like a good transcription for the sound in question. I'm don't know the proper symbol, but the "b" there seems to shade into the sound of a "v", like it's halfway between the two. So really the sound is something like "bvlah". Anyway.
posted by Ipsifendus at 6:41 AM on October 31, 2011


At no point in Bela Lugosi's iconic role in the 1931 film Dracula does he make the sound "Bleh!"
Not a lot of people know that
posted by fullerine at 6:43 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bleh, eh? Meh.
posted by TedW at 6:48 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is "bleh" really associated with vampires in popular culture? I have never heard that before. Citations?
posted by koeselitz at 6:49 AM on October 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


A game all my friends owned but none of my friends played: I Vant To Bite Your Finger
posted by SharkParty at 6:57 AM on October 31, 2011


Citations?

The two links in the post provide a number of examples of the phenomenon.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:58 AM on October 31, 2011


Yeah, the second one was better in that respect than the first, too. Thanks, Horace.
posted by koeselitz at 6:59 AM on October 31, 2011


Also I have pretty clear memories of saying "I vant to bite your neck and suck your blooood" in iambic pentameter as though this was a complete given and I wasn't a very creative kid so I am pretty surprised that the phrase doesn't show up verbatim in either the Bugs Bunny or Pink Panther cartoons.
posted by SharkParty at 7:03 AM on October 31, 2011


Metafilter: Full of people saying BLEAH!
posted by Billiken at 7:06 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is "bleh" really associated with vampires in popular culture? I have never heard that before. Citations?

It's more of a "bluh" sounds, although I've heard both...and so have you. Imagine a person rearing back, holding their arms kind of hunched back with fingers cramped/splayed and drawing back their lips while saying "bluh!"

That's Dracula.
posted by DU at 7:14 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nope, never heard that. Sorry, DU.
posted by koeselitz at 7:19 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


From the Snopes thread -

In Allan Sherman's "My Son, the Vampire" (the theme song to the 1952 film of the same name), he sings the word "blood" in a cheesy faux-European accent so it sounds like "bluuuuuh!"
posted by stinkycheese at 7:25 AM on October 31, 2011


I sort of remember a vampire on The Simpsons, maybe the Vampire Burns, saying "bleh," repeatedly: "bleh, Bleh, BLEH!" I didn't realize it was a thing until now.

As a kid we all imitated the line "I vant to suck your blood," although I'm sure none of us had watched the original Dracula movie or even knew who Bela Lugosi was. Did Lugosi actually say that too?
posted by hydrophonic at 7:30 AM on October 31, 2011




It's more of a "bluh" sounds, although I've heard both...and so have you. Imagine a person rearing back, holding their arms kind of hunched back with fingers cramped/splayed and drawing back their lips while saying "bluh!"


Never heard this either...supremely hard to picture.
posted by sweetkid at 7:30 AM on October 31, 2011


"Blah/bluh" is definitely assocated with Dracula in my suburban shlock-addled brain, for sure. Count Blah made perfect sense when I first saw Greg the Bunny.

After reading about it in the book Maximum Fun mentions, the Lenny Bruce connection seems kind of tenuous. Not much blah there.
posted by mediareport at 7:33 AM on October 31, 2011


Now I know what people who like to point out that Captain Kirk never said "beam me up Scotty" do for Halloween. What about Christmas?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:39 AM on October 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


I had no idea so many people were raised by wolves in underground bunkers with no access to TV or radio.
posted by DU at 7:44 AM on October 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


Nope, never heard that. Sorry, DU.

Never heard this either...supremely hard to picture.


It's a stock trope of 1950s/1960s cartoons, I'm gonna say mostly cheesy Hanna-Barbera and Ward Productions. Maybe even Looney Tunes. Also, just saw a late-night re-broadcast the other night of an old DePatie-Freleng Pink Panther cartoon that featured a "Bluh!" vampire.

Haven't any of you ever watched old cartoons? Count Chocula, that old General Mills cereal? Sesame Street's Count? "I vant to drink your BLUH!"

There was apparently also a Cool Ghoul in Cincinnati who did a "Bluh!" bit in the 1970s.

God, I'm old.
posted by blucevalo at 7:51 AM on October 31, 2011


Count Blah made perfect sense when I first saw Greg the Bunny.

Yeah, I think that's the best example of cultural penetration of the phenomenon--a vampire character who ends every sentence with a casual, unaccented "blah" as though that's the perfectly normal way for a vampire to speak in everyday conversation.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:57 AM on October 31, 2011


unaccented
By which I mean unemphasized. He said it with the Dracula accent you would expect.

posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:59 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the "bluh, bluh" didn't start life as a short vocal exercise used by performers looking to imitate Lugosi's rather unique voice, accent and inflection?
posted by Thorzdad at 8:00 AM on October 31, 2011


The Children of the Blue, what BLEAH! they make!
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:18 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pepsi Bluh
posted by DU at 8:55 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Greek word for "blue" is pronounced something close to "mbleh". Perhaps all these vampires are just feeling a little blue. And Greek.
posted by gurple at 9:01 AM on October 31, 2011


Pepsi Bluh

It's true. This whole post is nothing but viral marketing for vapmpirism.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:02 AM on October 31, 2011


vapmpirism

something something certified project management professional and also undead hellbeast
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:05 AM on October 31, 2011




Many things* pop into mind when I think of that utterance, but 'vampire' is not one of them.


* mostly mr. yuk
posted by HFSH at 9:21 AM on October 31, 2011


I have to admit I don't associate "bleh"/"bluh" with vampires at all. But then my vampire points of reference, more or less in chronological order, are: Bunnicula, Interview with the Vampire, Whedonverse.
posted by kmz at 9:26 AM on October 31, 2011


I'm shocked that people don't associate the stereotypical Lugosi Dracula with bleh/bluh. And I'm not that old (early 30s). I did watch a lot of old cartoons when growing up, though.
posted by zsazsa at 9:29 AM on October 31, 2011


I'm one of those cave people who never before heard of a 'bleh' sound associated with Dracula.
posted by ts;dr at 9:40 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh wait, I did read Dracula in 4th grade (post Bunnicula, pre Interview). But I've never seen any of Dracula movies or cartoons.
posted by kmz at 9:42 AM on October 31, 2011


I definitely remember the "bluh" among kids doing goofy vampire impressions of the late 1970s. We didn't necessarily know who Lugosi was, that was just something Dracula said. My guess is it came from some comedian's impression of Lugosi. Impersonators often add little silly syllables like that, for example "er-uh" for Jack/Bobby/Ted Kennedy, nonsense grunts for Schwarzenegger, or "yah" for Edward G. Robinson.
posted by gubo at 10:14 AM on October 31, 2011


It occurs to me that the vampiric "blah!" is an impression-but-not-an-impression in the same way as Jon Stewart's Bush heh-heh-heh-ing and Cheney WAH-ing. They're not really known for doing it themselves, but it just sounds so right, you know?
posted by Rhaomi at 10:29 AM on October 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just Blah... Blah [nsfw audio]
posted by CyberSlug Labs at 10:54 AM on October 31, 2011


I have to suspect MAD Magazine had something to do with it, related to their coining of the disgusted interjection: "BLECH" (or "BLECCHH", as I prefer to remember it, but Google doesn't)
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:39 PM on October 31, 2011


Bleh, play it again, Sam.
posted by Mael Oui at 7:36 PM on October 31, 2011


Huh. I have never heard of this either - and this despite being a goth in the '90s...
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:23 PM on October 31, 2011


Yeah, I'm more "vleh" then "bleh" but yeah, that's the noise fake vampires make.

I think it's just a kind of accenty sounding sound.

I imagine Count Bleck must be named after this.
posted by aubilenon at 12:41 AM on November 1, 2011


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