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The Vampire, by Philip Burne-Jones, 1897

Vampires are mythological or folkloric beings who subsist by feeding on the life essence (generally in the form of blood) of living creatures, regardless of whether they are undead or a living person.[1][2][3][4][5][6] Although vampiric entities have been recorded in many cultures and according to speculation by literary historian Brian Frost that the "belief in vampires and bloodsucking demons is as old as man himself", and may go back to "prehistoric times",[7] the term vampire was not popularized until the early 18th century, after an influx of vampire superstition into Western Europe from areas where vampire legends were frequent, such as the Balkans and Eastern Europe,[8] although local variants were also known by different names, such as vampir (вампир) in Serbia and Bulgaria, vrykolakas in Greece and strigoi in Romania. This increased level of vampire superstition in Europe led to mass hysteria and in some cases resulted in corpses actually being staked and people being accused of vampirism.

While even folkloric vampires of the Balkans and Eastern Europe had a wide range of appearance ranging from nearly human to bloated rotting corpses, it was the success of John Polidori's 1819 The Vampyre that established the charismatic and sophisticated vampire of fiction as it is arguably the most influential vampire work of the early 19th century[9] inspiring such works as Varney the Vampire and eventually Dracula.[10]

However, it is Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula that is remembered as the quintessential vampire novel and which provided the basis of modern vampire fiction. Dracula drew on earlier mythologies of werewolves and similar imaginary demons and "was to voice the anxieties of an age", and the "fears of late Victorian patriarchy".[11] The success of this book spawned a distinctive vampire genre, still popular in the 21st century, with books, films, video games, and television shows. The vampire is such a dominant figure in the horror genre that literary historian Susan Sellers places the current vampire myth in the "comparative safety of nightmare fantasy".[11]



The Oxford English Dictionary dates the first appearance of the word vampire in English from 1734, in a travelogue titled Travels of Three English Gentlemen published in the Harleian Miscellany in 1745.[12][13] Vampires had already been discussed in German literature.[14] After Austria gained control of northern Serbia and Oltenia in 1718, officials noted the local practice of exhuming bodies and "killing vampires".[14] These reports, prepared between 1725 and 1732, received widespread publicity.[14]

The English term was derived (possibly via French vampyre) from the German Vampir, in turn derived in the early 18th century from the Serbian вампир/vampir.[15][16][17][18][19] when Arnold Paole, a purported vampire in Serbia was described during the time Serbia was incorporated into the Austrian Empire

The Serbian form has parallels in virtually all Slavic languages: Bulgarian вампир (vampir), Czech and Slovak upír, Polish wąpierz, and (perhaps East Slavic-influenced) upiór, Russian упырь (upyr'), Belarusian упыр (upyr), Ukrainian упирь (upir'), from Old Russian упирь (upir'). (Note that many of these languages have also borrowed forms such as "vampir/wampir" subsequently from the West; these are distinct from the original local words for the creature.) The exact etymology is unclear.[20] Among the proposed proto-Slavic forms are *ǫpyrь and *ǫpirь.[21] Another, less widespread theory, is that the Slavic languages have borrowed the word from a Turkic term for "witch" (e.g., Tatar ubyr).[21][22]

The first recorded use of the Old Russian form Упирь (Upir') is commonly believed to be in a document dated 6555 (1047 AD).[23] It is a colophon in a manuscript of the Book of Psalms written by a priest who transcribed the book from Glagolitic into Cyrillic for the Novgorodian Prince Vladimir Yaroslavovich.[24] The priest writes that his name is "Upir' Likhyi " (Упирь Лихый), which means something like "Wicked Vampire" or "Foul Vampire".[25] This apparently strange name has been cited as an example both of surviving paganism and of the use of nicknames as personal names.[26]

Another early use of the Old Russian word is in the anti-pagan treatise "Word of Saint Grigoriy", dated variously to the 11th–13th centuries, where pagan worship of upyri is reported.[27][28]

Folk beliefs

The notion of vampirism has existed for millennia; cultures such as the Mesopotamians, Hebrews, Ancient Greeks, and Romans had tales of demons and spirits which are considered precursors to modern vampires. However, despite the occurrence of vampire-like creatures in these ancient civilizations, the folklore for the entity we know today as the vampire originates almost exclusively from early 18th century South-eastern Europe,[8] when oral traditions of many ethnic groups of the region were recorded and published. In most cases, vampires are revenants of evil beings, suicide victims, or witches, but they can also be created by a malevolent spirit possessing a corpse or by being bitten by a vampire. Belief in such legends became so pervasive that in some areas it caused mass hysteria and even public executions of people believed to be vampires.[29]

Description and common attributes

Vampyren, "The Vampire", by Edvard Munch

It is difficult to make a single, definitive description of the folkloric vampire, though there are several elements common to many European legends. Vampires were usually reported as bloated in appearance, and ruddy, purplish, or dark in colour; these characteristics were often attributed to the recent drinking of blood. Indeed, blood was often seen seeping from the mouth and nose when one was seen in its shroud or coffin and its left eye was often open.[30] It would be clad in the linen shroud it was buried in, and its teeth, hair, and nails may have grown somewhat, though in general fangs were not a feature.[31]

Creating vampires

The causes of vampiric generation were many and varied in original folklore. In Slavic and Chinese traditions, any corpse which was jumped over by an animal, particularly a dog or a cat, was feared to become one of the undead.[32] A body with a wound which had not been treated with boiling water was also at risk. In Russian folklore, vampires were said to have once been witches or people who had rebelled against the Church while they were alive.[33]

Cultural practices often arose that were intended to prevent a recently deceased loved one from turning into an undead revenant. Burying a corpse upside-down was widespread, as was placing earthly objects, such as scythes or sickles,[34] near the grave to satisfy any demons entering the body or to appease the dead so that it would not wish to arise from its coffin. This method resembles the Ancient Greek practice of placing an obolus in the corpse's mouth to pay the toll to cross the River Styx in the underworld; it has been argued that instead, the coin was intended to ward off any evil spirits from entering the body, and this may have influenced later vampire folklore. This tradition persisted in modern Greek folklore about the vrykolakas, in which a wax cross and piece of pottery with the inscription "Jesus Christ conquers" were placed on the corpse to prevent the body from becoming a vampire.[35] Other methods commonly practised in Europe included severing the tendons at the knees or placing poppy seeds, millet, or sand on the ground at the grave site of a presumed vampire; this was intended to keep the vampire occupied all night by counting the fallen grains.[36] Similar Chinese narratives state that if a vampire-like being came across a sack of rice, it would have to count every grain; this is a theme encountered in myths from the Indian subcontinent as well as in South American tales of witches and other sorts of evil or mischievous spirits or beings.[37]

Identifying vampires

Many elaborate rituals were used to identify a vampire. One method of finding a vampire's grave involved leading a virgin boy through a graveyard or church grounds on a virgin stallion—the horse would supposedly balk at the grave in question.[33] Generally a black horse was required, though in Albania it should be white.[38] Holes appearing in the earth over a grave were taken as a sign of vampirism.[39]

Corpses thought to be vampires were generally described as having a healthier appearance than expected, plump and showing little or no signs of decomposition.[40] In some cases, when suspected graves were opened, villagers even described the corpse as having fresh blood from a victim all over its face.[41] Evidence that a vampire was active in a given locality included death of cattle, sheep, relatives or neighbours. Folkloric vampires could also make their presence felt by engaging in minor poltergeist-like activity, such as hurling stones on roofs or moving household objects,[42] and pressing on people in their sleep.[43]


Apotropaics—mundane or sacred items able to ward off revenants—such as garlic[44] or holy water are common in vampire folklore. The items vary from region to region; a branch of wild rose and hawthorn plant are said to harm vampires; in Europe, sprinkling mustard seeds on the roof of a house was said to keep them away.[45] Other apotropaics include sacred items, for example a crucifix, rosary, or holy water. Vampires are said to be unable to walk on consecrated ground, such as those of churches or temples, or cross running water.[46] Although not traditionally regarded as an apotropaic, mirrors have been used to ward off vampires when placed facing outwards on a door (in some cultures, vampires do not have a reflection and sometimes do not cast a shadow, perhaps as a manifestation of the vampire's lack of a soul).[47] This attribute, although not universal (the Greek vrykolakas/tympanios was capable of both reflection and shadow), was used by Bram Stoker in Dracula and has remained popular with subsequent authors and filmmakers.[48] Some traditions also hold that a vampire cannot enter a house unless invited by the owner, although after the first invitation they can come and go as they please.[47] Though folkloric vampires were believed to be more active at night, they were not generally considered vulnerable to sunlight.[48]

Methods of destroying suspected vampires varied, with staking the most commonly cited method, particularly in southern Slavic cultures.[49] Ash was the preferred wood in Russia and the Baltic states,[50] or hawthorn in Serbia,[51] with a record of oak in Silesia.[52] Potential vampires were most often staked though the heart, though the mouth was targeted in Russia and northern Germany[53][54] and the stomach in north-eastern Serbia.[55] Piercing the skin of the chest was a way of "deflating" the bloated vampire; this is similar to the act of burying sharp objects, such as sickles, in with the corpse, so that they may penetrate the skin if the body bloats sufficiently while transforming into a revenant.[56] Decapitation was the preferred method in German and western Slavic areas, with the head buried between the feet, behind the buttocks or away from the body.[49] This act was seen as a way of hastening the departure of the soul, which in some cultures, was said to linger in the corpse. The vampire's head, body, or clothes could also be spiked and pinned to the earth to prevent rising.[57] Gypsies drove steel or iron needles into a corpse's heart and placed bits of steel in the mouth, over the eyes, ears and between the fingers at the time of burial. They also placed hawthorn in the corpse's sock or drove a hawthorn stake through the legs. In a 16th-century burial near Venice, a brick forced into the mouth of a female corpse has been interpreted as a vampire-slaying ritual by the archaeologists who discovered it in 2006.[58] Further measures included pouring boiling water over the grave or complete incineration of the body. In the Balkans a vampire could also be killed by being shot or drowned, by repeating the funeral service, by sprinkling holy water on the body, or by exorcism. In Romania garlic could be placed in the mouth, and as recently as the 19th century, the precaution of shooting a bullet through the coffin was taken. For resistant cases, the body was dismembered and the pieces burned, mixed with water, and administered to family members as a cure. In Saxon regions of Germany, a lemon was placed in the mouth of suspected vampires.[59]

Ancient beliefs

Lilith (1892), by John Collier

Tales of supernatural beings consuming the blood or flesh of the living have been found in nearly every culture around the world for many centuries.[60] Today we would associate these entities with vampires, but in ancient times, the term vampire did not exist; blood drinking and similar activities were attributed to demons or spirits who would eat flesh and drink blood; even the Devil was considered synonymous with the vampire.[61] Almost every nation has associated blood drinking with some kind of revenant or demon, or in some cases a deity. In India, for example, tales of vetalas, ghoul-like beings that inhabit corpses, have been compiled in the Baital Pachisi; a prominent story in the Kathasaritsagara tells of King Vikramāditya and his nightly quests to capture an elusive one.[62] Pishacha, the returned spirits of evil-doers or those who died insane, also bear vampiric attributes.[63] The Ancient Indian goddess Kali, with fangs and a garland of corpses or skulls, was also intimately linked with the drinking of blood.[64] In ancient Egypt, the goddess Sekhmet drank blood.[65]

The Persians were one of the first civilizations to have tales of blood-drinking demons: creatures attempting to drink blood from men were depicted on excavated pottery shards.[66] Ancient Babylonia had tales of the mythical Lilitu,[67] synonymous with and giving rise to Lilith (Hebrew לילית) and her daughters the Lilu from Hebrew demonology. Lilitu was considered a demon and was often depicted as subsisting on the blood of babies. However, the Jewish counterparts were said to feast on both men and women, as well as newborns.[67]

Ancient Greek and Roman mythology described the Empusae,[68] the Lamia,[69] and the striges. Over time the first two terms became general words to describe witches and demons respectively. Empusa was the daughter of the goddess Hecate and was described as a demonic, bronze-footed creature. She feasted on blood by transforming into a young woman and seduced men as they slept before drinking their blood.[68] The Lamia preyed on young children in their beds at night, sucking their blood, as did the gelloudes or Gello.[69] Like the Lamia, the striges feasted on children, but also preyed on young men. They were described as having the bodies of crows or birds in general, and were later incorporated into Roman mythology as strix, a kind of nocturnal bird that fed on human flesh and blood.[70]

Medieval and later European folklore

Many of the myths surrounding vampires originated during the medieval period. The 12th century English historians and chroniclers Walter Map and William of Newburgh recorded accounts of revenants,[29][71] though records in English legends of vampiric beings after this date are scant.[72] These tales are similar to the later folklore widely reported from Eastern Europe in the 18th century and were the basis of the vampire legend that later entered Germany and England, where they were subsequently embellished and popularised.

During the 18th century, there was a frenzy of vampire sightings in Eastern Europe, with frequent stakings and grave diggings to identify and kill the potential revenants; even government officials engaged in the hunting and staking of vampires.[73] Despite being called the Age of Enlightenment, during which most folkloric legends were quelled, the belief in vampires increased dramatically, resulting in a mass hysteria throughout most of Europe.[29] The panic began with an outbreak of alleged vampire attacks in East Prussia in 1721 and in the Habsburg Monarchy from 1725 to 1734, which spread to other localities. Two famous vampire cases, the first to be officially recorded, involved the corpses of Peter Plogojowitz and Arnold Paole from Serbia. Plogojowitz was reported to have died at the age of 62, but allegedly returned after his death asking his son for food. When the son refused, he was found dead the following day. Plogojowitz supposedly returned and attacked some neighbours who died from loss of blood.[73] In the second case, Paole, an ex-soldier turned farmer who allegedly was attacked by a vampire years before, died while haying. After his death, people began to die in the surrounding area and it was widely believed that Paole had returned to prey on the neighbours.[74] Another famous Serbian legend involving vampires concentrates around certain Sava Savanović living in a watermill and killing and drinking blood from millers. The folklore character was later used in a story written by Serbian writer Milovan Glišić and in the Serbian 1973 horror film Leptirica inspired by the story.

The two incidents were well-documented: government officials examined the bodies, wrote case reports, and published books throughout Europe.[74] The hysteria, commonly referred to as the "18th-Century Vampire Controversy", raged for a generation. The problem was exacerbated by rural epidemics of so-claimed vampire attacks, undoubtedly caused by the higher amount of superstition that was present in village communities, with locals digging up bodies and in some cases, staking them. Although many scholars reported during this period that vampires did not exist, and attributed reports to premature burial or rabies, superstitious belief increased. Dom Augustine Calmet, a well-respected French theologian and scholar, put together a comprehensive treatise in 1746, which was ambiguous concerning the existence of vampires. Calmet amassed reports of vampire incidents; numerous readers, including both a critical Voltaire and supportive demonologists, interpreted the treatise as claiming that vampires existed.[75] In his Philosophical Dictionary, Voltaire wrote:[76]

These vampires were corpses, who went out of their graves at night to suck the blood of the living, either at their throats or stomachs, after which they returned to their cemeteries. The persons so sucked waned, grew pale, and fell into consumption; while the sucking corpses grew fat, got rosy, and enjoyed an excellent appetite. It was in Poland, Hungary, Silesia, Moravia, Austria, and Lorraine, that the dead made this good cheer.

The controversy only ceased when Empress Maria Theresa of Austria sent her personal physician, Gerard van Swieten, to investigate the claims of vampiric entities. He concluded that vampires did not exist and the Empress passed laws prohibiting the opening of graves and desecration of bodies, sounding the end of the vampire epidemics. Despite this condemnation, the vampire lived on in artistic works and in local superstition.[75]

Non-European beliefs


Various regions of Africa have folkloric tales of beings with vampiric abilities: in West Africa the Ashanti people tell of the iron-toothed and tree-dwelling asanbosam,[77] and the Ewe people of the adze, which can take the form of a firefly and hunts children.[78] The eastern Cape region has the impundulu, which can take the form of a large taloned bird and can summon thunder and lightning, and the Betsileo people of Madagascar tell of the ramanga, an outlaw or living vampire who drinks the blood and eats the nail clippings of nobles.[3]

The Americas

The Loogaroo is an example of how a vampire belief can result from a combination of beliefs, here a mixture of French and African Vodu or voodoo. The term Loogaroo possibly comes from the French loup-garou (meaning "werewolf") and is common in the culture of Mauritius. However, the stories of the Loogaroo are widespread through the Caribbean Islands and Louisiana in the United States.[79] Similar female monsters are the Soucouyant of Trinidad, and the Tunda and Patasola of Colombian folklore, while the Mapuche of southern Chile have the bloodsucking snake known as the Peuchen.[80] Aloe vera hung backwards behind or near a door was thought to ward off vampiric beings in South American superstition.[37] Aztec mythology described tales of the Cihuateteo, skeletal-faced spirits of those who died in childbirth who stole children and entered into sexual liaisons with the living, driving them mad.[33]

During the late 18th and 19th centuries the belief in vampires was widespread in parts of New England, particularly in Rhode Island and Eastern Connecticut. There are many documented cases of families disinterring loved ones and removing their hearts in the belief that the deceased was a vampire who was responsible for sickness and death in the family, although the term "vampire" was never actually used to describe the deceased. The deadly disease tuberculosis, or "consumption" as it was known at the time, was believed to be caused by nightly visitations on the part of a dead family member who had died of consumption themselves.[81] The most famous, and most recently recorded, case of suspected vampirism is that of nineteen-year-old Mercy Brown, who died in Exeter, Rhode Island in 1892. Her father, assisted by the family physician, removed her from her tomb two months after her death, cut out her heart and burned it to ashes.[82]


Rooted in older folklore, the modern belief in vampires spread throughout Asia with tales of ghoulish entities from the mainland, to vampiric beings from the islands of Southeast Asia. India also developed other vampiric legends. The Bhūta or Prét is the soul of a man who died an untimely death. It wanders around animating dead bodies at night, attacking the living much like a ghoul.[83] In northern India, there is the BrahmarākŞhasa, a vampire-like creature with a head encircled by intestines and a skull from which it drank blood. Although vampires have appeared in Japanese Cinema since the late 1950s, the folklore behind it is western in origin.[84] However, the Nukekubi is a being whose head and neck detach from its body to fly about seeking human prey at night.[85]

Legends of female vampire-like beings who can detach parts of their upper body also occur in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. There are two main vampire-like creatures in the Philippines: the Tagalog mandurugo ("blood-sucker") and the Visayan manananggal ("self-segmenter"). The mandurugo is a variety of the aswang that takes the form of an attractive girl by day, and develops wings and a long, hollow, thread-like tongue by night. The tongue is used to suck up blood from a sleeping victim. The manananggal is described as being an older, beautiful woman capable of severing its upper torso in order to fly into the night with huge bat-like wings and prey on unsuspecting, sleeping pregnant women in their homes. They use an elongated proboscis-like tongue to suck fetuses from these pregnant women. They also prefer to eat entrails (specifically the heart and the liver) and the phlegm of sick people.[86]

The Malaysian Penanggalan may be either a beautiful old or young woman who obtained her beauty through the active use of black magic or other unnatural means, and is most commonly described in local folklore to be dark or demonic in nature. She is able to detach her fanged head which flies around in the night looking for blood, typically from pregnant women.[87] Malaysians would hang jeruju (thistles) around the doors and windows of houses, hoping the Penanggalan would not enter for fear of catching its intestines on the thorns.[88] The Leyak is a similar being from Balinese folklore.[89] A Kuntilanak or Matianak in Indonesia,[90] or Pontianak or Langsuir in Malaysia,[91] is a woman who died during childbirth and became undead, seeking revenge and terrorizing villages. She appeared as an attractive woman with long black hair that covered a hole in the back of her neck, with which she sucked the blood of children. Filling the hole with her hair would drive her off. Corpses had their mouths filled with glass beads, eggs under each armpit, and needles in their palms to prevent them from becoming langsuir.[92]

Jiang Shi (simplified Chinese: 僵尸traditional Chinese: 僵屍 or 殭屍pinyin: jiāngshī; literally "stiff corpse"), sometimes called "Chinese vampires" by Westerners, are reanimated corpses that hop around, killing living creatures to absorb life essence () from their victims. They are said to be created when a person's soul (魄 ) fails to leave the deceased's body.[93] However, some have disputed the comparison of jiang shi with vampires, as jiang shi are usually mindless creatures with no independent thought.[94] One unusual feature of this monster is its greenish-white furry skin, perhaps derived from fungus or mould growing on corpses.[95]

Modern beliefs

In modern fiction, the vampire tends to be depicted as a suave, charismatic villain.[31] Despite the general disbelief in vampiric entities, occasional sightings of vampires are reported. Indeed, vampire hunting societies still exist, although they are largely formed for social reasons.[29] Allegations of vampire attacks swept through the African country of Malawi during late 2002 and early 2003, with mobs stoning one individual to death and attacking at least four others, including Governor Eric Chiwaya, based on the belief that the government was colluding with vampires.[96]

In early 1970 local press spread rumors that a vampire haunted Highgate Cemetery in London. Amateur vampire hunters flocked in large numbers to the cemetery. Several books have been written about the case, notably by Sean Manchester, a local man who was among the first to suggest the existence of the "Highgate Vampire" and who later claimed to have exorcised and destroyed a whole nest of vampires in the area.[97] In January 2005, rumours circulated that an attacker had bitten a number of people in Birmingham, England, fuelling concerns about a vampire roaming the streets. However, local police stated that no such crime had been reported and that the case appears to be an urban legend.[98]

In one of the more notable cases of vampiric entities in the modern age, the chupacabra ("goat-sucker") of Puerto Rico and Mexico is said to be a creature that feeds upon the flesh or drinks the blood of domesticated animals, leading some to consider it a kind of vampire. The "chupacabra hysteria" was frequently associated with deep economic and political crises, particularly during the mid-1990s.[99]

In Europe, where much of the vampire folklore originates, the vampire is considered a fictitious being, although many communities have embraced the revenant for economic purposes. In some cases, especially in small localities, vampire superstition is still rampant and sightings or claims of vampire attacks occur frequently. In Romania during February 2004, several relatives of Toma Petre feared that he had become a vampire. They dug up his corpse, tore out his heart, burned it, and mixed the ashes with water in order to drink it.[100]

Vampirism also represents a relevant part of modern day's occultist movements. The mythos of the vampire, his magickal qualities, allure, and predatory archetype express a strong symbolism that can be used in ritual, energy work, and magick, and can even be adopted as a spiritual system.[101] The vampire has been part of the occult society in Europe for centuries and has spread into the American sub-culture as well for more than a decade, being strongly influenced by and mixed with the neo gothic aesthetics.[102]

Origins of vampire beliefs

Le Vampire, lithograph by R. de Moraine in Féval (1851–1852).

Many theories for the origins of vampire beliefs have been offered as an explanation for the superstition, and sometimes mass hysteria, caused by vampires. Everything ranging from premature burial to the early ignorance of the body's decomposition cycle after death has been cited as the cause for the belief in vampires.

Slavic spiritualism

Although many cultures possess revenant superstitions comparable to the Eastern European vampire, the Slavic vampire is the revenant superstition that pervades popular culture's concept of vampire. The roots of vampire belief in Slavic culture are based to a large extent in the spiritual beliefs and practices of pre-Christianized Slavic peoples and their understanding of life after death. Despite a lack of pre-Christian Slavic writings describing the details of the "Old Religion", many pagan spiritual beliefs and rituals have been sustained by Slavic peoples even after their lands were Christianized. Examples of such beliefs and practices include ancestor worship, household spirits, and beliefs about the soul after death. The origins of vampire beliefs can in Slavic regions can be traced to the complex structure of Slavic spiritualism.

Demons and spirits served important functions in pre-industrial Slavic societies and were considered to be very interactive in the lives and domains of humans. Some spirits were benevolent and could be helpful in human tasks, others were harmful and often destructive. Examples of such spirits are Domovoi, Rusalka, Vila, Kikimora, Poludnitsa, and Vodyanoy. These spirits were also considered to be derived from ancestors or certain deceased humans. Such spirits could appear at will in various forms including that of different animals or human form. Some of these spirits could also participate in malevolent activity to harm humans, such as drowning humans, obstructing the harvest, or sucking the blood of livestock and sometimes humans. Hence, the Slavs were obliged to appease these spirits to prevent the spirits from their potential for erratic and destructive behavior.[103]

Common Slavic belief indicates a stark distinction between soul and body. The soul is not considered to be perishable. The Slavs believed that upon death the soul would go out of the body and wander about its neighborhood and workplace for 40 days before moving on to an eternal afterlife.[103] Because of this, it was considered necessary to leave a window or door open in the house for the soul to pass through at its leisure. During this time the soul was believed to have the capability of re-entering the corpse of the deceased. Much like the spirits mentioned earlier, the passing soul could either bless or wreak havoc on its family and neighbors during its 40 days of passing. Upon an individual's death, much stress was placed on proper burial rites to ensure the soul's purity and peace as it separated from the body. The death of an unbaptized child, a violent or an untimely death, or the death of a grievous sinner (such as a sorcerer or murderer) were all grounds for a soul to become unclean after death. A soul could also be made unclean if its body were not given a proper burial. Alternatively, a body not given a proper burial could be susceptible to possession by other unclean souls and spirits. An unclean soul was so fearful to the Slavs because of its potential for vengeance.[104]

From these deeply implicated beliefs pertaining to death and the soul derives the invention of the Slavic concept of vampir. A vampire is the manifestation of an unclean spirit possessing a decomposing body. This undead creature is considered to be vengeful and jealous towards the living and needing the blood of the living to sustain its body's existence.[105] Although this concept of vampire exists in slightly deviating forms throughout Slavic countries and some of their non-Slavic neighbors, it is possible to trace the development of vampire belief to Slavic spiritualism pre-existing Christianity in Slavic regions.



Paul Barber in his book Vampires, Burial and Death has described that belief in vampires resulted from people of pre-industrial societies attempting to explain the natural, but to them inexplicable, process of death and decomposition.[106]

People sometimes suspected vampirism when a cadaver did not look as they thought a normal corpse should when disinterred. However, rates of decomposition vary depending on temperature and soil composition, and many of the signs are little known. This has led vampire hunters to mistakenly conclude that a dead body had not decomposed at all, or, ironically, to interpret signs of decomposition as signs of continued life.[107] Corpses swell as gases from decomposition accumulate in the torso and the increased pressure forces blood to ooze from the nose and mouth. This causes the body to look "plump," "well-fed," and "ruddy"—changes that are all the more striking if the person was pale or thin in life. In the Arnold Paole case, an old woman's exhumed corpse was judged by her neighbours to look more plump and healthy than she had ever looked in life.[108] The exuding blood gave the impression that the corpse had recently been engaging in vampiric activity.[41] Darkening of the skin is also caused by decomposition.[109] The staking of a swollen, decomposing body could cause the body to bleed and force the accumulated gases to escape the body. This could produce a groan-like sound when the gases moved past the vocal cords, or a sound reminiscent of flatulence when they passed through the anus. The official reporting on the Peter Plogojowitz case speaks of "other wild signs which I pass by out of high respect".[110]

After death, the skin and gums lose fluids and contract, exposing the roots of the hair, nails, and teeth, even teeth that were concealed in the jaw. This can produce the illusion that the hair, nails, and teeth have grown. At a certain stage, the nails fall off and the skin peels away, as reported in the Plogojowitz case—the dermis and nail beds emerging underneath were interpreted as "new skin" and "new nails".[110]

Premature burial

It has also been hypothesized that vampire legends were influenced by individuals being buried alive because of shortcomings in then-current medical knowledge. In some cases in which people reported sounds emanating from a specific coffin, it was later dug up and fingernail marks were discovered on the inside from the victim trying to escape. In other cases the person would hit their heads, noses or faces and it would appear that they had been "feeding."[111] A problem with this theory is the question of how people presumably buried alive managed to stay alive for any extended period without food, water or fresh air. An alternate explanation for noise is the bubbling of escaping gases from natural decomposition of bodies.[112] Another likely cause of disordered tombs is grave robbing.[113]


Folkloric vampirism has been associated with clusters of deaths from unidentifiable or mysterious illnesses, usually within the same family or the same small community.[81] The epidemic allusion is obvious in the classical cases of Peter Plogojowitz and Arnold Paole, and even more so in the case of Mercy Brown and in the vampire beliefs of New England generally, where a specific disease, tuberculosis, was associated with outbreaks of vampirism. As with the pneumonic form of bubonic plague, it was associated with breakdown of lung tissue which would cause blood to appear at the lips.[114]


In 1985 biochemist David Dolphin proposed a link between the rare blood disorder porphyria and vampire folklore. Noting that the condition is treated by intravenous haem, he suggested that the consumption of large amounts of blood may result in haem being transported somehow across the stomach wall and into the bloodstream. Thus vampires were merely sufferers of porphyria seeking to replace haem and alleviate their symptoms.[115] The theory has been rebuffed medically as suggestions that porphyria sufferers crave the haem in human blood, or that the consumption of blood might ease the symptoms of porphyria, are based on a misunderstanding of the disease. Furthermore, Dolphin was noted to have confused fictional (bloodsucking) vampires with those of folklore, many of whom were not noted to drink blood.[116] Similarly, a parallel is made between sensitivity to sunlight by sufferers, yet this was associated with fictional and not folkloric vampires. In any case, Dolphin did not go on to publish his work more widely.[117] Despite being dismissed by experts, the link gained media attention[118] and entered popular modern folklore.[119]


Rabies has been linked with vampire folklore. Dr Juan Gómez-Alonso, a neurologist at Xeral Hospital in Vigo, Spain, examined this possibility in a report in Neurology. The susceptibility to garlic and light could be due to hypersensitivity, which is a symptom of rabies. The disease can also affect portions of the brain that could lead to disturbance of normal sleep patterns (thus becoming nocturnal) and hypersexuality. Legend once said a man was not rabid if he could look at his own reflection (an allusion to the legend that vampires have no reflection). Wolves and bats, which are often associated with vampires, can be carriers of rabies. The disease can also lead to a drive to bite others and to a bloody frothing at the mouth.[120][121]

Psychodynamic understanding

In his 1931 treatise On the Nightmare, Welsh psychoanalyst Ernest Jones noted that vampires are symbolic of several unconscious drives and defence mechanisms. Love, guilt, and hate are emotions that fuel the idea of the return of the dead to the grave. Desiring a reunion with loved ones, mourners may project the idea that the recently dead must in return yearn the same. From this arises the belief that folkloric vampires and revenants visit relatives, particularly their spouses, first.[122] However in cases where there was unconscious guilt associated with the relationship, the wish for reunion may be subverted by anxiety. This may lead to repression, which Freud had linked with the development of morbid dread.[123] Jones surmised in this case the original wish of a (sexual) reunion may be drastically changed: desire is replaced by fear; love is replaced by sadism, and the object or loved one is replaced by an unknown entity. The sexual aspect may or may not be present.[124] Some modern critics have proposed a simpler theory: people identify with immortal vampires because by so doing they overcome, or at least temporarily escape from, their fear of dying.[125]

The innate sexuality of bloodsucking can be seen in its intrinsic connection with cannibalism and folkloric one with incubus-like behaviour. Many legends report various beings draining other fluids from victims, an unconscious association with semen being obvious. Finally Jones notes that when more normal aspects of sexuality are repressed, regressed forms may be expressed, in particular sadism; he felt that oral sadism is integral in vampiric behaviour.[126]

Political interpretation

The reinvention of the vampire myth in the modern era is not without political overtones.[127] The aristocratic Count Dracula, alone in his castle apart from a few demented retainers, appearing only at night to feed on his peasantry, is symbolic of the parasitic Ancien regime. Werner Herzog, in his Nosferatu the Vampyre, gives this political interpretation an extra ironic twist when his young estate agent hero becomes the next vampire; in this way the capitalist bourgeois becomes the next parasitic class.[128]


A number of murderers have performed seemingly vampiric rituals upon their victims. Serial killers Peter Kürten and Richard Trenton Chase were both called "vampires" in the tabloids after they were discovered drinking the blood of the people they murdered. Similarly, in 1932, an unsolved murder case in Stockholm, Sweden was nicknamed the "Vampire murder", because of the circumstances of the victim’s death.[129] The late 16th-century Hungarian countess and mass murderer Elizabeth Báthory became particularly infamous in later centuries' works, which depicted her bathing in her victims' blood in order to retain beauty or youth.[130]

Vampire lifestyle is a term for a contemporary subculture of people, largely within the Goth subculture, who consume the blood of others as a pastime; drawing from the rich recent history of popular culture related to cult symbolism, horror films, the fiction of Anne Rice, and the styles of Victorian England.[131] Active vampirism within the vampire subculture includes both blood-related vampirism, commonly referred to as sanguine vampirism, and psychic vampirism, or supposed feeding from pranic energy.[132]

Vampire bats

Although many cultures have stories about them, vampire bats have only recently become an integral part of the traditional vampire lore. Indeed, vampire bats were only integrated into vampire folklore when they were discovered on the South American mainland in the 16th century.[133] Although there are no vampire bats in Europe, bats and owls have long been associated with the supernatural and omens, although mainly because of their nocturnal habits,[133][134] and in modern English heraldic tradition, a bat means "Awareness of the powers of darkness and chaos".[135]

The three species of actual vampire bats are all endemic to Latin America, and there is no evidence to suggest that they had any Old World relatives within human memory. It is therefore impossible that the folkloric vampire represents a distorted presentation or memory of the vampire bat. The bats were named after the folkloric vampire rather than vice versa; the Oxford English Dictionary records their folkloric use in English from 1734 and the zoological not until 1774. Although the vampire bat's bite is usually not harmful to a person, the bat has been known to actively feed on humans and large prey such as cattle and often leave the trademark, two-prong bite mark on its victim's skin.[133]

The literary Dracula transforms into a bat several times in the novel, and vampire bats themselves are mentioned twice in it. The 1927 stage production of Dracula followed the novel in having Dracula turn into a bat, as did the film, where Bela Lugosi would transform into a bat.[133] The bat transformation scene would again be used by Lon Chaney Jr. in 1943's Son of Dracula.[136]

In modern fiction

The vampire is now a fixture in popular fiction. Such fiction began with eighteenth century poetry and continued with nineteenth century short stories, the first and most influential of which was John Polidori's The Vampyre (1819), featuring the vampire Lord Ruthven. Lord Ruthven's exploits were further explored in a series of vampire plays in which he was the anti-hero. The vampire theme continued in penny dreadful serial publications such as Varney the Vampire (1847) and culminated in the pre-eminent vampire novel of all time: Dracula by Bram Stoker, published in 1897.[137] Over time, some attributes now regarded as integral became incorporated into the vampire's profile: fangs and vulnerability to sunlight appeared over the course of the 19th century, with Varney the Vampire and Count Dracula both bearing protruding teeth,[138] and Murnau's Nosferatu (1922) fearing daylight.[139] The cloak appeared in stage productions of the 1920s, with a high collar introduced by playwright Hamilton Deane to help Dracula 'vanish' on stage.[140] Lord Ruthven and Varney were able to be healed by moonlight, although no account of this is known in traditional folklore.[141] Implied though not often explicitly documented in folklore, immortality is one attribute which features heavily in vampire film and literature. Much is made of the price of eternal life, namely the incessant need for blood of former equals.[142]


"Carmilla" by D. H. Friston, 1872, from The Dark Blue.

The vampire or revenant first appeared in poems such as The Vampire (1748) by Heinrich August Ossenfelder, Lenore (1773) by Gottfried August Bürger, Die Braut von Corinth (The Bride of Corinth (1797) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Samuel Taylor Coleridge's unfinished Christabel and Lord Byron's The Giaour (1813).[143] Byron was also credited with the first prose fiction piece concerned with vampires: The Vampyre (1819). However this was in reality authored by Byron's personal physician, John Polidori, who adapted an enigmatic fragmentary tale of his illustrious patient.[29][137] Byron's own dominating personality, mediated by his lover Lady Caroline Lamb in her unflattering roman-a-clef, Glenarvon (a Gothic fantasia based on Byron's wild life), was used as a model for Polidori's undead protagonist Lord Ruthven. The Vampyre was highly successful and the most influential vampire work of the early 19th century.[9]

Varney the Vampire was a landmark popular mid-Victorian era gothic horror story by James Malcolm Rymer (alternatively attributed to Thomas Preskett Prest), which first appeared from 1845 to 1847 in a series of pamphlets generally referred to as penny dreadfuls because of their inexpensive price and typically gruesome contents. The story was published in book form in 1847 and runs to 868 double-columned pages. It has a distinctly suspenseful style, using vivid imagery to describe the horrifying exploits of Varney.[141] Another important addition to the genre was Sheridan Le Fanu's lesbian vampire story Carmilla (1871). Like Varney before her, the vampire Carmilla is portrayed in a somewhat sympathetic light as the compulsion of her condition is highlighted.[144]

No effort to depict vampires in popular fiction was as influential or as definitive as Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897).[145] Its portrayal of vampirism as a disease of contagious demonic possession, with its undertones of sex, blood and death, struck a chord in Victorian Europe where tuberculosis and syphilis were common. The vampiric traits described in Stoker's work merged with and dominated folkloric tradition, eventually evolving into the modern fictional vampire. Drawing on past works such as The Vampyre and "Carmilla", Stoker began to research his new book in the late 1800s, reading works such as The Land Beyond the Forest (1888) by Emily Gerard and other books about Transylvania and vampires. In London, a colleague mentioned to him the story of Vlad Ţepeş, the "real-life Dracula," and Stoker immediately incorporated this story into his book. The first chapter of the book was omitted when it was published in 1897, but it was released in 1914 as Dracula's Guest.[146]

One of the first "scientific" vampire novels was Richard Matheson's 1954 I Am Legend which as been used as the basis for the films The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Omega Man (1971), and I Am Legend (2007).

The twenty first century has brought more examples of vampire fiction, such as J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series, and other highly popular vampire books which appeal to teenagers and young adults. Such vampiric paranormal romance novels and allied vampiric chick-lit and vampiric occult detective stories are a remarkably popular and ever-expanding contemporary publishing phenomenon.[147] L.A. Banks' The Vampire Huntress Legend Series, Laurell K. Hamilton's erotic Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series, and Kim Harrison's The Hollows series, portray the vampire in a variety of new perspectives, some of them unrelated to the original legends.

The latter part of the twentieth century saw the rise of multi-volume vampire epics. The first of these was Gothic romance writer Marilyn Ross' Barnabas Collins series (1966–71), loosely based on the contemporary American TV series Dark Shadows. It also set the trend for seeing vampires as poetic tragic heroes rather than as the more traditional embodiment of evil. This formula was followed in novelist Anne Rice's highly popular and influential Vampire Chronicles (1976–2003).[148] Vampires in the Twilight series (2005–2008) by Stephenie Meyer ignore the effects of garlic and crosses, and are not harmed by sunlight (although it does reveal their supernatural nature).[149]

Film and television

Iconic scene from F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu , 1922

Considered one of the preeminent figures of the classic horror film, the vampire has proven to be a rich subject for the film and gaming industries. Dracula is a major character in more movies than any other but Sherlock Holmes, and many early films were either based on the novel of Dracula or closely derived from it. These included the landmark 1922 German silent film Nosferatu, directed by F. W. Murnau and featuring the first film portrayal of Dracula—although names and characters were intended to mimic Dracula's, Murnau could not obtain permission to do so from Stoker's widow, and had to alter many aspects of the film. In addition to this film was Universal's Dracula (1931), starring Béla Lugosi as the count in what was the first talking film to portray Dracula. The decade saw several more vampire films, most notably Dracula's Daughter in 1936.[150]

The legend of the vampire was cemented in the film industry when Dracula was reincarnated for a new generation with the celebrated Hammer Horror series of films, starring Christopher Lee as the Count. The successful 1958 Dracula starring Lee was followed by seven sequels. Lee returned as Dracula in all but two of these and became well known in the role.[151] By the 1970s, vampires in films had diversified with works such as Count Yorga, Vampire (1970), an African Count in 1972's Blacula, a Nosferatu-like vampire in 1979's Salem's Lot, and a remake of Nosferatu itself, titled Nosferatu the Vampyre with Klaus Kinski the same year. Several films featured female, often lesbian, vampire antagonists such as Hammer Horror's The Vampire Lovers (1970) based on Carmilla, though the plotlines still revolved around a central evil vampire character.[151]

The pilot for the Dan Curtis 1972 television series Kolchak: The Night Stalker revolved around reporter Carl Kolchak hunting a vampire on the Las Vegas strip. Later films showed more diversity in plotline, with some focusing on the vampire-hunter such as Blade in the Marvel Comics' Blade films and the film Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy, released in 1992, foreshadowed a vampiric presence on television, with adaptation to a long-running hit TV series of the same name and its spin-off Angel. Still others showed the vampire as protagonist such as 1983's The Hunger, 1994's Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles and its indirect sequel of sorts Queen of the Damned. Bram Stoker's Dracula was a noteworthy 1992 film which became the then-highest grossing vampire film ever.[152] This increase of interest in vampiric plotlines led to the vampire being depicted in movies such as Underworld and Van Helsing, the Russian Night Watch and a TV miniseries remake of 'Salem's Lot, both from 2004. The series Blood Ties premiered on Lifetime Television in 2007, featuring a character portrayed as Henry Fitzroy, illegitimate son of Henry VIII of England turned vampire, in modern-day Toronto, with a female former Toronto detective in the starring role. A 2008 series from HBO, entitled True Blood, gives a Southern take to the vampire theme.[149] The continuing popularity of the vampire theme has been ascribed to a combination of two factors: the representation of sexuality and the perennial dread of mortality.[153]

Mathematical proof that the existence of vampires is impossible

Ac­cord­ing to Cos­tas Ef­thi­mi­ou, a phys­ics pro­f­es­sor at the University of Central Florida, it is mathematically impossible for vampires to exist. Professor Ef­thi­mi­ou's proof is based on geometric progression. According to professor Ef­thi­mi­ou, if the first vampire had appeared on January 1, 1600, and it fed once a month (which is less often than what is depicted in movies and folklore), and every victim turned into a vampire, then within two and a half years, the entire human population (which was about 537 million people at that time) would have become vampires.[154]


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  111. ^ Marigny, Vampires, pp. 48-49.
  112. ^ Barber, Vampires, Burial and Death, p. 128.
  113. ^ Barber, Vampires, Burial and Death, pp. 137-38.
  114. ^ Barber, Vampires, Burial and Death, p. 115.
  115. ^ Dolphin D (1985) "Werewolves and Vampires," annual meeting of American Association for the Advancement of Science.
  116. ^ Barber, Vampires, Burial and Death, p. 100.
  117. ^ Adams, Cecil (May 7, 1999). "Did vampires suffer from the disease porphyria—or not?". The Straight Dope. Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2007-12-25. 
  118. ^ Pierach, Claus A. (June 13, 1985). "Vampire Label Unfair To Porphyria Sufferers". Opinion. New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-25. 
  119. ^ Kujtan, Peter W. (October 29, 2005). "Porphyria: The Vampire Disease". The Mississauga News online. Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  120. ^ Gómez-Alonso, Juan (September 1998). "Rabies: a possible explanation for the vampire legend". Neurology 51 (3): 856–9. ISSN 0028-3878. PMID 9748039. 
  121. ^ "Rabies-The Vampire's Kiss". BBC news. September 24, 1998. Retrieved 2007-03-18. 
  122. ^ Jones, "The Vampire," pp. 100-102.
  123. ^ Jones, N; Higashi, M; Otsubo, R; Sakuma, T; Oyama, N; Tanaka, R; Iihara, K; Naritomi, H et al. (February 1911). "The Pathology of Morbid Anxiety". Journal of Abnormal Psychology 6 (2): 81–106. doi:10.1037/h0074306. ISSN 0195-6108. PMID 17296997. 
  124. ^ Jones, "The Vampire," p. 106.
  125. ^ McMahon, Twilight of an Idol, p. 193.
  126. ^ Jones, "The Vampire", pp. 116-20.
  127. ^ Glover, David (1996). Vampires, Mummies, and Liberals: Bram Stoker and the Politics of Popular Fiction. Durham, NC.: Duke University Press. 
  128. ^ Brass, Tom (2000). "Nymphs, Shepherds, and Vampires: The Agrarian Myth on Film". Dialectical Anthropology 25: 205–237. doi:10.1023/A:1011615201664. 
  129. ^ (Swedish) Linnell, Stig (1993) [1968]. Stockholms spökhus och andra ruskiga ställen. Raben Prisma. ISBN 91-518-2738-7. 
  130. ^ Hoyt Lust for Blood: The Consuming Story of Vampires pp. 68-71.
  131. ^ Skal, The Monster Show, pp. 342-43.
  132. ^ Jon, A. Asbjorn (2002). "The Psychic Vampire and Vampyre Subculture". Australian Folklore (12): 143–148. ISSN 0819-0852. 
  133. ^ a b c d Cohen, Encyclopedia of Monsters, pp. 95-96.
  134. ^ Cooper, J.C. (1992). Symbolic and Mythological Animals. London: Aquarian Press. pp. 25–26. ISBN 1-85538-118-4. 
  135. ^ "Heraldic "Meanings"". American College of Heraldry. Retrieved 2006-04-30. 
  136. ^ Skal, V is for Vampire, pp. 19-21.
  137. ^ a b Christopher Frayling (1992) Vampyres - Lord Byron to Count Dracula.
  138. ^ Skal, V for Vampire, p. 99.
  139. ^ Skal, V for Vampire, p. 104.
  140. ^ Skal, V for Vampire, p. 62.
  141. ^ a b Silver & Ursini, The Vampire Film, pp. 38-39.
  142. ^ Bunson, Vampires Encyclopedia, p. 131.
  143. ^ Marigny, Vampires, pp. 114–115.
  144. ^ Silver & Ursini, The Vampire Film, pp. 40–41.
  145. ^ Silver & Ursini, The Vampire Film, p. 43.
  146. ^ Marigny, Vampires, pp. 82–85.
  147. ^ Vampire Romance.
  148. ^ Silver & Ursini, The Vampire Film, p. 205.
  149. ^ a b Beam, Christopher (2008, November 20). "I Vant To Upend Your Expectations: Why movie vampires always break all the vampire rules". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  150. ^ Marigny, Vampires, pp. 90-92.
  151. ^ a b Marigny, Vampires, pp. 92-95.
  152. ^ Silver & Ursini, The Vampire Film, p. 208.
  153. ^ Bartlett, Wayne; Flavia Idriceanu (2005). Legends of Blood: The Vampire in History and Myth. London: NPI Media Group. p. 46. ISBN 0-7509-3736-X. 
  154. ^ Math vs. vampires: vampires lose,, October 25, 2006

Cited texts

  • Barber, Paul (1988). Vampires, Burial and Death: Folklore and Reality. New York: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-04126-8. 
  • Bunson, Matthew (1993). The Vampire Encyclopedia. London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-277486. 
  • (German) Burkhardt, Dagmar (1966). "Vampirglaube und Vampirsage auf dem Balkan". Beiträge zur Südosteuropa-Forschung: Anlässlich des I. Internationalen Balkanologenkongresses in Sofia 26. VIII.-1. IX. 1966. Munich: Rudolf Trofenik. OCLC 1475919. 
  • Cohen, Daniel (1989). Encyclopedia of Monsters: Bigfoot, Chinese Wildman, Nessie, Sea Ape, Werewolf and many more.... London: Michael O'Mara Books Ltd. ISBN 0-948397-94-2. 
  • (French) Créméné, Adrien (1981). La mythologie du vampire en Roumanie. Monaco: Rocher. ISBN 2-268-00095-8. 
  • (French) Faivre, Antoine (1962). Les Vampires. Essai historique, critique et littéraire. Paris: Eric Losfeld. OCLC 6139817. 
  • (French) Féval, Paul (1851-1852). Les tribunaux secrets : ouvrage historique. Paris: E. et V. Penaud frères. 
  • Frayling, Christopher (1991). Vampyres, Lord Byron to Count Dracula. London: Faber. ISBN 0-571-16792-6. 
  • (Italian) Introvigne, Massimo (1997). La stirpe di Dracula: Indagine sul vampirismo dall'antichità ai nostri giorni. Milan: Mondadori. ISBN 88-04-42735-3. 
  • Hurwitz, Siegmund (1992) [1980]. Gela Jacobson (trans.). ed. Lilith, the First Eve: Historical and Psychological Aspects of the Dark Feminine. Einsiedeln, Switzerland: Daimon Verlag. ISBN 3-85630-522-X. 
  • Jennings, Lee Byron (2004) [1986]. "An Early German Vampire Tale: Wilhelm Waiblinger's 'Olura'". in Reinhard Breymayer and Hartmut Froeschle (eds.). In dem milden und glücklichen Schwaben und in der Neuen Welt: Beiträge zur Goethezeit. Stuttgart: Akademischer Verlag Stuttgart. pp. 295–306. ISBN 3-88099-428-5. 
  • Jones, Ernest (1931). "The Vampire". On the Nightmare. London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psycho-Analysis. OCLC 2382718. 
  • Marigny, Jean (1993). Vampires: The World of the Undead. London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-30041-0. 
  • McNally, Raymond T. (1983). Dracula Was a Woman. McGraw Hill. ISBN 0-07-045671-2. 
  • Schwartz, Howard (1988). Lilith's Cave: Jewish tales of the supernatural. San Francisco: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-250779-6. 
  • Skal, David J. (1996). V is for Vampire. New York: Plume. ISBN 0-452-27173-8. 
  • Skal, David J. (1993). The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror. New York: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-024002-0. 
  • Silver, Alain; James Ursini (1993). The Vampire Film: From Nosferatu to Bram Stoker's Dracula. New York: Limelight. ISBN 0-87910-170-9. 
  • Summers, Montague (2005) [1928]. Vampires and Vampirism. Mineola, NY: Dover. ISBN 0-486-43996-8.  (Originally published as The Vampire: His Kith and Kin)
  • Summers, Montague (1996) [1929]. The Vampire in Europe. Gramercy Books: New York. ISBN 0-517-14989-3.  (also published as The Vampire in Lore and Legend, ISBN 0-486-41942-8)
  • (Serbian) Vuković, Milan T. (2004). Народни обичаји, веровања и пословице код Срба. Belgrade: Сазвежђа. ISBN 86-83699-08-0. 
  • Wilson, Katharina M (Oct. - Dec., 1985). "The History of the Word "Vampire"". Journal of the History of Ideas 46 (4): 577–583. 
  • Wright, Dudley (1973) [1914]. The Book of Vampires. New York: Causeway Books. ISBN 0-88356-007-0.  (Originally published as Vampire and Vampirism; also published as The History of Vampires)

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Vampires article)

From Wikiquote

Le Vampire,
lithograph by R. de Moraine
Les Tribunaux secrets (1864)
Lilith (1892), by John Collier.
The Vampire, by Philip Burne-Jones, 1897

A Vampire is an supernatural creature, featuring prominently in horror fiction and folk tales, that lives after death through drinking the blood of the living.



  • She [Susan] is very lovely, Mr. Mears - very toothsome if I may be permitted a small bon mot.
    • Barlow's note left to Ben & co. pg 345 'Salem's Lot;Stephen King.
  • The world is coming down around our ears and you're sticking at a few vampires.

Unsourced Quotes

  • The Black Dahlia, she was someone who was just waiting for an executioner, waiting for it to happen. She was an ideal victim. I've met quite a few like her. They're just crying out, not just to be killed, but also tortured. She seemed very parasitic, a psychic vampire.
  • For many years I had heard about an underworld consisting of people who act out a vampire fantasy while I was living in New York. Fortunately for me there are also several books on the phenomena.
  • I figured that, if you do a vampire movie in Hollywood, you've made it.
  • I was the graveyard shift in a plastics plant in Texas. It was like being a vampire.
  • If some kid watches Buffy the Vampire Slayer and then blows the high school up, then goddamnit... start parenting better.
  • I'm a devotee of Dracula, which was a pathfinder in horror and vampire fiction.
  • I'm just finishing up the next Alex Cross and I'm pleased with it. Some people will look at it as more realistic than Violets are Blue, but only because they won't be able to believe that the vampire underworld is as large and real as it is.
  • One thing vampire children are taught is, never run with a wooden stake.
  • The reason good women like me and flock to my pictures is that there is a little bit of vampire instinct in every woman.
  • "The vampire underworld is much larger than most people could imagine. It exists in all the cities mentioned in the book, but also in many, many more. Teenagers, especially, seem to like to act out vampire fantasies.
  • There are two levels of vampirism: one is the regular vampire, which is just like it has always been; and then there's the super vampires, which are a new breed we've created.
  • When AIDS was at its most brutal, frightening, my-God-what-are-we-going-to-do era, that was when vampire stories and stories about blood and trust swept the literary world.
  • When other little girls wanted to be ballet dancers I kind of wanted to be a vampire.
  • When they took me to do the camera test for the vampire make up, after they put the prosthetic on, I went though the entire process, I went back to my trailer and I looked in the mirror and I smiled.

See also

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

VAMPIRE, a term, apparently of Servian origin (wampir), originally applied in eastern Europe to blood -sucking ghosts, but in modern usage transferred to one or more species of bloodsucking bats inhabiting South America.

In the first-mentioned meaning a vampire is usually supposed to be the soul of a dead man which quits the buried body by night to suck the blood of living persons. Hence, when the vampire's grave is opened, his corpse is found to' he fresh and rosy from the blood which he has thus absorbed. To put a stop to his ravages, a stake is driven through the corpse, or the head cut off, or the heart torn out and the body burned, or boiling water and vinegar are poured on the grave. The persons who turn vampires are generally wizards, witches, suicides and those who have come to a violent end or have been cursed by their parents or by the church. But any one may become a - vampire if an animal (especially a cat) leaps over his corpse or a bird flies over it. Sometimes the vampire is thought to be the soul of a living man which leaves his body in sleep, to go in the form of a straw or fluff of down and suck the blood of other sleepers. The belief in vampires chiefly prevails in Slavonic lands, as in Russia (especially White Russia and the Ukraine), Poland and Servia, and among the Czechs of Bohemia and the other Slavonic races of Austria. It became specially prevalent in Hungary between the years 1730 and 1735, whence all Europe was filled with reports of the exploits of vampires. Several treatises were written on the subject, among which may be mentioned Ranft's De masticatione mortuorum in tumulis (1734) and Calmet's Dissertation on the Vampires of Hungary, translated into English in 1750. It is probable that this superstition gained much ground from the reports of those who had examined the bodies of persons buried alive though believed to be dead, and was based on the twisted position of the corpse, the marks of blood on the shroud and on the face and hands - results of the frenzied struggle in the coffin before life became extinct. The belief in vampirism has also taken root among the Albanians and modern Greeks, but here it may be due to Slavonic influence.

Two species of blood-sucking bats (the only species known) - Desmodus rufus and Diphylla ecaudata - representing two genera (see Chiroptera), inhabit the tropical and part of the subtropical regions of the New World, and are restricted to South and Central America. They appear to be confined chiefly to the forest-clad parts, and their attacks on men and other warmblooded animals were noticed by some of the earliest writers. Thus Peter Martyr (Anghiera), who wrote soon after the conquest of South America, says that in the Isthmus of Darien there were bats which sucked the blood of men and cattle when asleep to such a degree as to even kill them. Condamine, a writer of the 18th century, remarks that at Borja (Ecuador) and in other places they had entirely destroyed the cattle introduced by the missionaries. Sir Robert Schomburgk relates that at Wicki, on the river Berbice, no fowls could be kept on account of the ravages of these creatures, which attacked their combs, causing them to appear white from loss of blood. The present writer, when in South and Central America, had many accounts given him as to the attacks of the vampires, and it was agreed upon by most of his informants that these bats when attacking horses showed a decided preference for those of a grey colour. It is interesting to speculate how far the vampire bats may have been instrumental - when they were, perhaps, more abundant - in causing the destruction of the horse, which had disappeared from America previous to the discovery of that continent.

Although these bats were known thus early to Europeans, the species to which they belonged were not determined for a long time, several of the large frugivorous species having been wrongly set down as blood-suckers, and named accordingly. Thus the name Vampyrus was suggested to Geoffroy and adopted by Spix, who also considered that the long-tongued bats of the group Glossophaga were addicted to blood, and accordingly described Glossophaga soricina as a very cruel blood-sucker (sanguisuga crudelissima), believing that the long brush-tipped tongue was used to increase the flow of blood. Vampyrus spectrum, a large bat inhabiting Brazil, of sufficiently forbidding aspect, which was long considered by naturalists to be thoroughly sanguivorous in its habits, and named accordingly by Geoffroy, has been shown by the observations of travellers to be mainly frugivorous, and is considered by the inhabitants of the countries in which it is found to be perfectly harmless. Charles Waterton believed Artibeus planirostris, a common bat in British Guiana, usually found in the roofs of houses; and now known to be frugivorous, to be the veritable vampire; but neither he nor any of the naturalists that preceded him had succeeded in detecting any bat in the act of drawing blood. It fell to the lot of Charles Darwin to determine one of the blood-sucking species at least, and the following is his account of the circumstances under which the discovery of the sanguivorous habits of Desmodus rufus was made: "The vampire bat is often the cause of much trouble by biting the horses on their withers. The injury is generally not so much owing to the loss of blood as to,the inflammation which the pressure of the saddle afterwards produces. The whole circumstance has lately been doubted in England; I was therefore fortunate in being present when one was actually caught on a horse's back. We were bivouacking late one evening near Coquimbo, in Chile, when my servant, noticing that one of the horses was very restive, went to see what was the matter, and, fancying he could detect something, suddenly put his hand on the beast's withers, and secured the vampire" (Naturalist's Voyage Round the World, p. 22).

Desmodus rufus, the common blood-sucking bat, is widely spread over the tropical and subtropical parts of Central and South America from Oaxaca to southern Brazil and Chile. It is a comparatively small bat, a little larger than the noctule, the head and body about 3 in. in length, the forearm 21, with a remarkably long and strong thumb; it is destitute of a tail, and has a very peculiar physiognomy (fig. I). The body is covered with rather short fur of a reddish-brown colour but varying in shade, the extremities of the hairs sometimes ashy. The teeth are peculiar and characteristic, admirably adapted for the purposes for which they are employed. The upper front teeth (incisors), of which there are only two, are enormously enlarged (see fig. 2), and in shape obliquely triangular like small guillotines. The canines, though smaller than the incisors, are large and sharp; but the cheek-teeth, so well developed in other bats, are very small and reduced in number to two above and three below, on each side, with laterally compressed crowns rising but slightly above the level of the gum, their longitudinally disposed cutting edges (in the upper jaw) being continuous with the base of the canine and with each other. The lower front teeth (incisors) are small, bifid, in pairs, and separated from the canines, with a space in front. The lower cheek-teeth are narrow, like those in the upper jaw, but the anterior tooth is slightly larger than the others, and separated by a small space from the canines. Behind the lower incisors the jaw is deeply hollowed out to receive the extremities of the large upper incisors.

With this peculiar dentition there is associated as remarkable a departure from the general type in the form of the digestive apparatus. The exceedingly narrow oesophagus opens at right angles into a narrow, intestine-like stomach, which almost immediately terminates on the right, without a distinct pylorus, in the duodenum, but on the left forms a greatly elongated caecum, bent and folded upon itself, which appears at first sight like part of the intestines. This, the cardiac extremity of the stomach, is, for a short distance to the left of the entrance of the oesophagus, still very narrow, but soon increases in size, till near its termination it attains a diameter quite three times that of the short pyloric portion. The length of this cardiac diverticulum of the stomach appears to vary from 2 to 6 in., the size in each specimen probably depending on the amount of food obtained by the animal before it was captured.

The only other known species of blood-sucking bat, Diphylla ecaudata, inhabits Brazil, and appears to be much less abundant than Desmodus rufus, from which it is distinguished by its slightly smaller size, by the absence of a groove in the front of the lower lip, the non-development of the interfemoral membrane in the centre, and the presence of a short calcaneum (absent in D. rufus), but more particularly by the presence of an additional rudimentary cheek-tooth (?molar) above and below, and the peculiar form of the lower incisors, which are much expanded in the direction of the jaws and pectinated, forming a semicircular row touching each other, the outer incisors being wider than the inner ones, with six notches, the inner incisors with three each.

Travellers describe the wounds inflicted by the large sharp-edged incisors as being similar to those caused by a razor when shaving: a portion of the skin is shaved off and, a large number of severed capillary vessels being thus exposed, a constant flow of blood is maintained. From this source the blood is drawn through the exceedingly narrow gullet - too narrow for anything solid to pass - into the intestine-like stomach, whence it is, probably, gradually drawn off during the slow progress of digestion, while the animal, sated with food, is hanging in a state of torpidity from the roof of its cave or from the inner sides of a hollow tree. (G. E. D.)

<< Armin Vambery

Vampyrella (L) >>


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also vampire



Vampire pl.

  1. Plural form of Vampir. "vampires"

Strategy wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Darkstalkers article)

From StrategyWiki, the free strategy guide and walkthrough wiki

Box artwork for Darkstalkers.
Developer(s) Capcom
Publisher(s) Capcom
Japanese title ヴァンパイア
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Fighting
System(s) Arcade, PlayStation, GameTap
Players 1-2
ESRB: Teen
Followed by Night Warriors

Darkstalkers, known in Japan and Asia as Vampire, is an arcade game developed by Capcom in 1994 on the CPS-2 hardware. It is the first in a series of games that are notable for its cast of characters based on well-known fictional monsters (hence its Japanese title, Vampire) and introduced many of the concepts used in later Capcom fighting games, including the use of sixteen color animation sprites later employed in the Street Fighter Alpha and the Marvel vs. Capcom series. There have been five arcade games in the series with a few console ports produced as well.

After having developed Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Capcom had felt that the Street Fighter II series had run its course and it was time to invest in new ideas and designs. The Darkstalkers concept was a bold move for Capcom, as all of the characters were entirely new and, other than the legends that they were based on, completely unknown personalities. The other direction that Capcom was moving in at this time was the X-Men: Children of the Atom game which, by contrast, featured a completely well known cast.

The first in the series, fully titled Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors features ten playable characters, and two non-playable boss characters. The game features the same gameplay system Capcom developed for the Street Fighter II series, but with several new gameplay features such as Air Blocking, Crouch Walking and Chain Combos. The game featured a Special meter similar to the Super Combo in Super Street Fighter II Turbo, which the player could fill up to perform a super powered special attack. Unlike the Super Combo meter in Super Turbo, the Special meter in Darkstalkers gradually drains until the player performs their super move, preventing players from preserving their super moves for later use. This game was ported to the PlayStation in 1996.

Table of Contents

Simple English

, 1897]] Vampires are monsters in legends and stories. The first vampire legends were told in Eastern Europe, but much of how modern people see vampires was created by Bram Stoker in the famous novel, Dracula. Few people believe that vampires are real, but they are still very popular in movies, television, and books.

Vampires were once people but have a supernatural curse. Some vampires must drink blood to survive. They do this by biting people or animals on the neck with their two long fangs. People who are killed by having their blood drank by vampires may also become vampires. Others can live off the life energy of people. In many stories, vampires can change into other animals, usually bats, though also wolves, cats or rats.

Depending on the story, vampires may have some or all of these characteristics:

  • They cannot go out in sunlight, so they sleep during the day.
  • They can only be killed in certain ways:
    • being beheaded
    • having a stake driven through their heart
    • being set on fire
  • They can be weakened by crosses or other religious symbols, garlic, holy water, and silver.
  • They cannot cross the ocean unless they are in a coffin surrounded by soil from their homeland.
  • They cannot enter a house unless they have been invited in.
  • If a bag of rice, grain, seeds or other similar substance is spilled on the ground, a vampire will have to count every grain.
  • They have no reflection in glass, mirrors, or other things.


Vampires in fiction

Dracula is the most famous vampire in fiction, and several movies have been made about him. There is also a popular series of books by Anne Rice about vampires. The television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer featured a young girl who fought vampires, but also befriended good ones. The series Twilight by Stephenie Meyer is also about vampires. The movie The Lost Boys was about a band of vampires in (then) modern California. Among many other stories, shows and movies about vampires.


In stories, garlic is often used for keeping vampires away. A branch of wild rose and hawthorn plant are said to hurt vampires, and in Europe, putting mustard seeds on the roof of a house was said to keep them away.[1] Though this is not traditional, mirrors have been used to make vampires stay away (in some cultures, vampires do not have a reflection and sometimes do not have a shadow, perhaps as a way of showing that they do not have souls).[2] Not all vampires in stories have this quality (the Greek vrykolakas/tympanios had both reflections and shadows), was used by Bram Stoker in Dracula.


Some neurolgists believe that rabies might lie at the base of the myth.

  • Rabid people have trouble walking.
  • They are sexually very active and can be aggressive. They may bite, while they are in this frenzy.
  • Very often they have cramps, or seizures. They do bite their tongue often during such cramps. This may lead to them bleeding from their mouth.
  • Rabies can be spread by biting
  • Many diseases of the brain make people sensitive to light.
  • Many diseases of the brain make people have difficulty swallowing. This is the fear of water.

The problem with this is that rabid people, especially in advanced stages of the disease, will live for about ten days, at best. This does not account for them getting out of ditches and graves over weeks or months.

Another explanation was given by other people. The disease might be porphyria, rather than rabies. Porphyria is a genetic condition that leads to differences when the body makes blood. Some parts of the blood can not be made in sufficient quantities.

Psychological disorders can contribute to vampiric behavior. As well as the fact that drinking blood has always been believed to give you the strength of the one you drink from. That belief stems all the way back to ancient civilizations.

There are people in the real world who like to dress and behave like a vampire. Some of them may also drink blood.

Finally, there is the vampire bat.


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Wikimedia Commons has images, video, and/or sound related to:
  1. Mappin, Jenni (2003). Didjaknow: Truly Amazing & Crazy Facts About... Everything. Australia: Pancake. p. 50. ISBN 0-330-40171-8. 
  2. Spence, Lewis (1960). An Encyclopaedia of Occultism. New Hyde Parks: University Books. ISBN 0486426130. OCLC 3417655. 

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