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Silver-level article

Vampire

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I vaant to saack your blaad!
It's fun to pretend
Paranormal
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Fails from the crypt
Gather 'round the campfire
Folklore
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Folklore
Urban legends
Superstition
As most people know, I am a vampire, so I have no reflection. Every day, I paste a picture of someone else on the mirror.
Meat LoafWikipedia's W.svg[1]

Vampires are mythical beings who subsist by feeding on the life essence (generally in the form of blood) of living creatures. In folklore vampires could be either undead or a living person.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8]

Many people (primarily fifteen year-old girls) find the undead variant of vampires incredibly hawt. Some will go so far as to dress and almost act like them. Others (though apparently not everyone[9]) find the penetration aspect disconcerting. Very few vampires have been known to be whiny teenagers who sparkle in the sun.

Contrary to popular belief, garlic may attract vampires.[10] No, really — check the study.

Origins and history[edit]

As you study vampire legend throughout history, it goes back to almost every culture. South Africa, Indonesia, crazy places have that legend and that idea of immortality.
Catherine HardwickeWikipedia's W.svg[11]

The concept of a being that had to feed on the blood of the living goes all the way back to ancient times. The Lilitu of ancient Mesopotamia is perhaps the oldest of these and there is some debate on if this has any relation to Lilith who supposedly drained the blood of children (who in the Latin Vulgate Book of Isaiah 34:14 is translated lamia.) Such beings need not be undead as shown by the Astral (everywhere), ghul (Arabia), loogaroo (Haiti) and penanggalen (Malay Peninsula) who were living sorcerers or witches. In the majority of cases the vampire of folklore was horrific even if they weren't a walking corpse. For example, the penanggalen at night was a flying head with its entrails dangling below. In Indonesia a city was named for the pontianak, a "vampiric female ghost".

The modern concept of the cool undead vampire that women would actually want to have bite them (or men, in the case of Kate B.Wikipedia's W.svg in a tight black latex outfit) probably stems originally from 19th century pulp novelsWikipedia's W.svg like Varney the Vampire and Carmilla (the latter best known now for putting a lesbian twist on the genre).

Bram Stoker's Dracula, published in 1897, is the one most remembered nowadays, partly because of a highly successful stage adaptation and, later, Universal Pictures' famous 1931 film with Bela Lugosi.[notes 1] Since the novel is in the public domain[notes 2], it has since had numerous adaptations in film and television, ranging from the classy to the lurid to the comedic. The Castlevania video game series also has Dracula as the antagonist of several games.[12] A good number of modern adaptations tend to draw inspiration from two real-life figures that the character was allegedly based on: Vlad III the Impaler, a 15th century Wallachian duke who was famed for his campaigns against the Ottomans and his trademark execution method (both of which have made him something of a Romanian folk hero), and the "Blood Countess" Elizabeth Báthory, one of the most prolific serial killers in history, a Hungarian countess who murdered and bathed in the blood of hundreds of girls and young women to maintain her youth and beauty.[13][14]

For decades, Dracula was pretty much the vampire story. Even as late as the 1970s, the more "modern" vampire movies by the British studio Hammer Films were themselves new adaptations of the Count featuring many of Stoker's characters (or their descendants). There did exist alternative takes on vampire mythology, such as Richard Matheson's I Am Legend (which also served as a precursor to the zombie story) and Hammer's 1974 Captain Kronos – Vampire HunterWikipedia's W.svg the first of a planned series that was to deal with "as many species of vampire as there are beasts of prey" and dealt with a vampire that drained youth and was active in daylight. However, most vampire stories looked chiefly to the 1931 Universal picture for inspiration (in Stoker's actual novel, Dracula is active in daylight). If somebody was talking about vampires, they were probably thinking of the 1931 Dracula movie. That changed with the publication of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles series, starting with Interview with the Vampire in 1976. While vampires had had sex appeal well before then, Rice's books turned it up to erotic levels, while also answering the question of what happens when you put multiple bloodthirsty apex predators in the same room. The answer: a whole new genre known as "urban fantasy", in which vampires had entire societies separate from humanity, scheming against one another while treating humans like cattle. Love 'em or hate 'em, Rice's books sparked a new interest in vampire fiction in the '80s and '90s that reached across film, television, literature, and gaming.

Some might mention the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer here. To those who would dare do such a thing: shut your yapper. Though to be fair, the penny dreadful Varney the Vampire (1845–47) is likely worse, as the writer was paid by the line, resulting in an 876 double-columned page monstrosity divided into 220 chapters when somebody thought turning the weekly series into a book in 1847 was a good idea. This rambling nightmare went on for 207 weeks, with Varney getting repeatedly killed and raised by moonlight and several other means until the author had Varney chuck himself into Mount Vesuvius[15]

Before Dracula, European vampires were something more akin to werewolves or zombies: the mythical undead danger in the forest. Some (like the Vrykolakas from the Balkans) could pass themselves off as humans and even father children (one of the possible sources for the half-human half-vampire Dhampir concept), though for the most part they were clearly animated corpses.

The Chinese jiangshiWikipedia's W.svg is so similar to many European vampires that it is nearly frightening. As with the large range of European types, the jiangshi could be peasant or noble, and in many cases was a corpse animated by a demon. They, like their European counterparts, could vary from beautiful to horrific.

In popular culture[edit]

Every vampire fiction reinvents vampires to its own needs. You take what you want.
Joss WhedonWikipedia's W.svg[16]

In pop culture, from films such as Blade, Night Watch, and Hotel Transylvania to TV shows such as Being Human, Count Duckula, and Adventure Time or manga such as Tsukihime, vampires being nice and not drinking blood is a common theme. Some will just feast on animal blood, some will "go on the wagon" (plus many other references to alcoholism), some will just eat shades of red, some will use an alternative. However, even a vegetarian vampire can't get blood from a turnip.

Velcome!

Vampires also tend to fight with other mythical creatures across various works of fiction. Almost without exception, the vampires are the cool ones at the top of the food chain, while werewolves are usually the butt of their jokes. Not even Discworld is able to escape this stereotype.

The earliest fictional vampires such as Varney the Vampire and even Stoker's Dracula were not destroyed by sunlight. That feature was introduced in F. W. Murnau's 1922 film Nosferatu (an unauthorized German adaptation of Dracula that's still regarded as one of the best). From that point on (with the occasional exception such as the vampire in Hammer's Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter and the vampires in Master of Mosquiton and Hellsing manga and anime) exposure to sunlight was one of the go-tos for dispatching a vampire. Now, thanks to ingenuity, an occasional trip back to the original folklore, and Stephenie Meyer,[notes 3], all a vampire needs to keep from turning into ash is some bleached hair, sunscreen, and bad plot devices.

Of course, the destruction of a vampire can be played for laughs as is the case with Alucard von Mosquiton who gets killed via stake and brought back with blood in nearly every episode of the six part Master of Mosquiton OVA.

What will drive a vampire aways varies on how the various elements are used.

For example, in The Fearless Vampire Killers a crucifix has no effect on a Jewish vampire.

In Marvel comics a vampire is driven away by belief. For example, Uncanny X-Men #159 Kitty Pryde (who believes in Judaism) tries to drive Dracula away with a cross which has no effect but the Star of David on her necklace does affect him. Later Wolverine makes a cross with his claws and Dracula laughs in his face as Wolverine does not believe. Nightcrawler (who is a devout Catholic) makes a cross from some wood and drives Dracula away.

The comedy Love at First Bite has Dr. Rosenberg pull out a Star of David to which Dracula comments that Rosenberg should go find a nice Jewish girl.

Religious interpretations[edit]

I am a former newspaper reporter turned church secretary turned vampire novelist. I wrote my first complete novel, Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs, at night while I was working as the receptionist for a Baptist church. That was an interesting conversation with the pastor.
Molly HarperWikipedia's W.svg[17]

Early, as well as modern, interpretations of European vampire lore suggest an allegory or parody of Christianity. If a character drinks the blood of a vampire, they will die but live forever after death. Sound familiar?

However, not all folklore vampires were based in Christianity. The Gaki of Japan for instance was related to Shintoism.

Despite (or possibly because of) this, many priests have denounced the stories of Dracula and, more recently, Edward Cullen, akinning vampire-fandom to idolatry. It is expected that many of those who speak out against such novels for this reason haven't read the books, otherwise they would praise the conservative message of the Twilight saga and criticize it for its horrible writing. Although some claim it's full of Mormon references, so they might not like that.

How to kill a vampire[edit]

Vampire teeth really aren't very efficient, are they? It looks very messy. I'm not sure it's the best way to get a pint off anyone.
Saoirse RonanWikipedia's W.svg[18]

Undead vampires are almost immortal but they need to drain the lifeforce of the living in order to survive, usually in the form of blood.

The traditional sunlight, decapitation, being burned to ashes, or an oak stake driven through the heart is based on a mishmash of the Slavic variant (Vampir) and the 1931 Dracula movie. Captain Kronos — Vampire Hunter's claim of there being "as many species of vampire as there are beasts of prey" is not that far from the actual folklore.

R.P. Smith 1979 "Varieties of Vampires" Dragon Magazine #25 and GURPS Blood Types outline some of the methods of killing folklore vampires that for the most part are outside the standard methods above.

For example, the Astral (everywhere), Baital (India), and Gaki (Japan) vampires are spirits that animate corpses and can be active in daylight if they want. So you can "kill" the body they are using but they will simply animate another one.

The Ch'ing Shich (China) must be totally burned (and can have their essence bound to material object which also has to be destroyed)

The Vlkodlak (Volkodlak) out of Serbia, Slovenia, and Croatia has what has to be the most insane destruction criteria of any folklore vampire: cut off its toes and thumbs, drive a spike into its neck, pierce its navel (not its heart) with a stake, then burn it with a fire lit by holy candles (mess it up and you have one pissed off Vlkodlak coming after you...once it regenerates) Oh and the term originally referred to werewolves. The werewolf idea showed up in the Wild Wild West episode "Night of the Wolf" while the vampire version (pronounced "Wurdalak") showed up in the 1963 film Black Sabbath.

Stupidity and woo[edit]

There's a whole vampire community online — those are some crazy people.
Amy HeckerlingWikipedia's W.svg[19]

"Real" vampires[edit]

I'm an energy vampire. I just suck off everybody's energy. But I give it back.
Dolly PartonWikipedia's W.svg[20]

Some people actually think they're vampires, though what they define as a vampire varies, with one such laughable variation known as the "psychic vampire"[21] or "energy vampire".[22][23] The old joke is that "real vampires" are people who played too much Vampire: The Masquerade and read too much Anne Rice in the '90s.[24] One hypothesis linked vampirism to the skin disease porphyria (whose symptoms include photosensitivity); this has since been discredited, but it still comes up from time to time.[25]

A group called the Temple of the Vampire[26] currently assists people in "awakening to their vampire nature", offering not only a free introductory audio series, but also memberships for the low, low price of $20 a month (or $200 a year). As one of the perks of being a real vampire, you get a discount on the Vampire Bible, which contains all the tenets of vampire society (which seem to begin with "com[ing] to a predator's perspective toward human beings" — very comforting); as a member, you pay $40 for it instead of $60.[notes 4]

William Schnoebelen claims to have been a practicing vampire until he was turned by a bank clerk in 1980, lost all his magical powers, and converted to Mormonism instead. [27] He has since denounced the Mormons, claiming that they're a front for Freemasonry and Satanism.

Vampire hunters[edit]

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is without a doubt the best film we are ever likely to see on the subject — unless there is a sequel, which is unlikely, because at the end, the Lincolns are on their way to the theater.
Roger EbertWikipedia's W.svg[28][29]

Other people really think that they are vampire hunters. Inspired by the lurid accounts of "actual" vampire hunts of the 18th century (Arnold PaoleWikipedia's W.svg being the most famous of these) and the Victorian vampire craze a few scholars stripped their gears and went vampire hunting though the majority of 19th century hunts were done by local "amateurs" or quacks.[30] Occasionally, vampire hunting kits from the late 19th century will turn up at antique stores and auctions, with some selling for as much as $12,000. The kits usually came in the form of ornate boxes containing a crucifix, wooden stakes, vials of "holy" water and a small Derringer-style pistol with silver bullets. The kits were novelty items sold to fans of the macabre and the gullible (i.e. Victorian-Era mall ninjas).[31]

Even after vampires were dismissed as fiction, the occasional modern vampire hunter still turns up. Perhaps the best known of these modern vampire hunters are British weirdos Seán Manchester[32] and David Farrant, who claim to hunt and kill vampires for real. They are best known — in fact, solely known — for their involvement in the Highgate Vampire incident in the '70s, and subsequent rivalry over their competing accounts of the events. Indeed, a search for Manchester on Wikipedia gets a redirect to the Highgate Vampire article[33], while a search for Farrant will bring up an obscure New Zealand cricketer, with a note at the top saying "For other uses, see Highgate Vampire#Initial publicity."[34]

However, Manchester and Farrant are beaten in popularity by the fictional vampire hunters Abraham Van Helsing, one of the main characters of the aforementioned Dracula, and Buffy Summers, star of the cult TV series Buffy the Vampire SlayerWikipedia's W.svg.

In 1954 Glasgow, Scotland went vampire-crazy, with hundreds of schoolkids swarming the city's cemeteries in pursuit of the "Gorbals vampire". This figure was rumoured to be seven feet tall (2.13 metres) with iron teeth, and thought to have killed and eaten two children (although no missing children were reported). Moral campaigners blamed American comic books for the hysteria, particularly one called The Vampire with the Iron Teeth (despite "there was no mention of a creature matching the description of the Gorbals Vampire in any of these comics" though similarities in Daniel 7:7 of the Bible and a local myth could be found), and in 1955 the Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act was passed. There were no more vampire sightings in Glasgow.[35][36]

Suggested reading[edit]

  • Grate, Lance (1995) GURPS Blood Types ISBN: 1-55634-113 (uses the below as source material but serves as quick reference guide on how diverse vampires in actual mythology are)
  • Barber, Paul (1988) Vampires, Burial and Death (Yale University Press)
  • Bunson, Matthew (1993) The Vampire Encyclopedia (Crown Publications)
  • Frayling, Christopher (1991) Vampyres: Lord Byron to Count Dracula (Faber and Faber, Ltd)
  • Haining, Peter (1977) The Dracula Scrapbook (Bramhall House)
  • McNally, Raymond T. and Florescu, Radu (1972) In Search of Dracula (N.Y. Graphic Society)
  • Melton, J. Gordon (1994) The Vampire Book (Visible Ink Press)
  • Summers, Montague (1928) The Vampire, His Kith and Kin (Routledge and Keegan Paul)
  • Summers, Montague (1929) The Vampire in Europe (Routledge and Keegan Paul)
  • Twitchell, James B, (1975) The Living Dead: The Vampire in Romantic Literature (Duke University Press)
  • Wolf, Leonard (ed.) (1995) The Essential Dracula (Plume)

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. That, and the lashings of alluring vampire women, with their ivory skin, heaving bosoms, tightly-bound corsets, and… excuse me, I need a cold shower…
  2. Hell, you can read it right here.
  3. Who has a lot to answer for...
  4. Or, you know, you can just read it for free here.

References[edit]

  1. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/meatloaf547740.html
  2. (French) Levkievskaja, E.E. (1997). "La mythologie slave : problèmes de répartition dialectale (une étude de cas : le vampire)". Cahiers Slaves 1.
  3. Créméné, Mythologie du Vampire, p. 89.
  4. Bunson, Vampire Encyclopedia, p. 219.
  5. (Ukrainian) Словник символів, Потапенко О.І., Дмитренко М.К., Потапенко Г.І. та ін., 1997.
  6. Dundes, Alan (1998). The Vampire: A Casebook. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 13. ISBN 0299159248.
  7. "Vampire". Encyclopaedia Britannica 27. Encyclopaedia Britannica Company. 1911. p. 876.
  8. Dundes, Alan (ed) (1998) The Vampire: A Casebook University of Wisconsin Press ISBN-10: 0299159248 pg 13, 14 , 22, 52
  9. http://filmdrunk.uproxx.com/2011/03/its-finally-happened-a-sparkling-sex-toy-for-twilight-fans
  10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7825135
  11. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/c/catherineh705549.html
  12. See the Wikipedia article on Dracula in popular culture.. There's fuller list of adaptations, if you're into that.
  13. And you thought modern alternative medicine practices could get messed-up.
  14. Countess Dracula (1971) Hammer pictures
  15. Skal, David J. (1996) V is for Vampire pg 211-212
  16. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/josswhedon552014.html
  17. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/mollyharpe577651.html
  18. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/s/saoirseron535476.html
  19. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/amyheckerl705759.html
  20. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/d/dollyparto635048.html
  21. Hesse, Monica. "A Vampire's Life? It's Really Draining." The Washington Post, 24 November 2008.
  22. "Energy Vampires" by Dr. (Dentist) Bruce Goldberg.
  23. Real Vampires
  24. Browning, John Edgar. "Life Among the Vampires." The Atlantic, 31 October 2015 (recovered 18 July 2016).
  25. Lane, Nick. "Born to the Purple: The Story of Porphyria." Scientific American, 16 December 2002 (recovered 19 October 2014).
  26. The Temple of the Vampire
  27. http://www.relfe.com/07/Bill_William_Schnoebelen.html
  28. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/rogerebert543429.html
  29. In the novel, it is revealed that Lincoln became a vampire.
  30. Tucker, Abigail (2010) "The Great New England Vampire Panic" Smithsonian Magazine
  31. Mark Strauss (11/14/14) ​"The True Story Behind Those "Antique" Vampire Hunting Kits"
  32. Confirmed as weirdo in Ofcom broadcast bulletin 58, Apr 2006, pages 44-50
  33. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sean_Manchester&redirect=no
  34. See the Wikipedia article on David Farrant.
  35. The Gorbals Vampire and monster hunt that shook Glasgow, Claire Mckim, The Scotsman, 18 March 2016
  36. Child vampire hunters sparked comic crackdown, BBC, 22 March 2010