Count Dracula never looked so utterly frightening. Or so absolutely adorable.
And when you think about it, that's always been the modus operandi of that most famous of vampires. All charming and innocent-looking, and then suddenly -- WHAM! -- you're completely under his spell and out come the fangs.
When we received this photograph of Christian Wolthuis, undead offspring of Aaron and Nikki Wolthuis of Perry, we couldn't decide if we should cower in fear or give him a great big ol' hug. The photo shows a pint-sized version of the quintessential vampire -- complete with black cape -- teeth bared and one eyebrow raised menacingly.
Well, sort of menacingly. You can almost hear Christian in his tiny Transylvanian accent: "I vant to drink your chocolate milk ..."
Indeed, part of the obvious excitement on this vampire's face is the anticipation of that evening's feeding frenzy. See, the photograph was taken on Halloween last year, just a few days before Christian's fifth birthday, and as the young count himself points out, he was about to indulge in his favorite part about the holiday.
"Getting the candy!" he says enthusiastically.
When the Standard-Examiner, in the spirit of the upcoming All Hallow's Eve, asked readers to send us their scariest faces, Nikki Wolthuis knew just which photo to submit.
"Christian just started kindergarten, and he has to make a book of himself for school, so I was looking through a bunch of photos," she said. "So I had just seen it recently and knew that was the one I wanted to send in."
The photo was taken on the family's front porch, where Wolthuis says "there always seems to be good lighting."
Continues Mom: "He'd been at preschool all day, so as you can see if you look at his shirt, it's a bit of a mess."
Aw, isn't that cute? Even vampires get scolded by their mothers for not being more careful. ("Do you realize how difficult it is to get blood stains out of a silk shirt, young man?")
Christian totally loves Halloween. It's one of his favorite holidays.
"He's been counting down the days until the time when we get to decorate (for Halloween)," Wolthuis says. "I told him we needed to wait until October."
One reason Christian likes Oct. 31 is because it's pretty much a license to scare. And he loves to scare people.
Wolthuis says that almost daily Christian will sneak up behind 8-year-old Lindsey, one of his three sisters, and scare the wits out of her.
"Lindsey will tell me, 'Mom, I can't go in my room because I'm afraid Christian will come up and scare me,' " Wolthuis said. "He'll even do that to me. He tiptoes up behind me and tries to scare me."
For her part, Lindsey could do without her brother's little hobby.
"I don't like that," she said. "Sometimes he comes downstairs and sneaks up on me and scares me. He goes, 'Boo!' "
Nor does Christian limit his hauntings to family members. With some of his friends, Mom says, Christian will sometimes turn off the lights and close the door on them.
"I warned him about that," Wolthuis says. "I felt bad for his friends."
So, what does the little bloodsucker have to say for himself? He's a man of few words, but guilty as charged.
Who do you like to scare, we ask him?
"My sister," he says.
What does she do when you scare her?
And how do you go about scaring people?
"I just sneak up on them and say 'Boo.' "
So, does Christian ever get scared himself?
"He acts like he isn't, until it's time to go to bed," Wolthuis said. "Then he has to have the hall light on and the closet door shut."
Closet door shut?
"That's very important," she said. "He does believe in ghosts and monsters."