Vampires are mythological creatures who feed on the life essence of humans (in the form of human blood) in order to survive. Vampires appeared in many different cultures, some dating back to "prehistoric times", but was not popularized until the 18th century where the superstition became frequent in Western Europe. This led to mass hysteria where people were accused of vampirism and corpses were even staked.
In modern day, vampires often appear in all categories of media. Bram Stoker's famous novel - "Dracula" was inspired by the 15th century Voivode of Wallachia; Vlad III, better known as Vlad the Impaler, from the ruling House of Drăculesti, a branch of the House of Basarab. Vlad the Impaler earned his epithet by impaling Ottoman soldiers intent on conquering his lands.
Vampires are often regarded as having a pale complexion and having sharp fangs. In European legends, they were described as being bloated and ruddy, purplish, or dark in colour. Blood seeping from their teeth, mouth, and nose was also a common feature. They may be wearing the linen shroud they were buried in and their teeth, hair, and nails may have grown.
Garlic is said to harm Vampires and mustard seeds sprinkled over the roof of one's house was said to keep them away. Sacred items, such as some holy water, a crucifix, or a rosary, are other examples of apotropaics (items that ward off revenants). Some cultures believed that mirrors were able to help ward off vampires while others believed that vampires' reflections could not appear in mirrors. Some cultures believed that vampires were not able to enter a house without an invitation from the owner(s). After the first invitation, vampires were able to come and go as they pleased. Though folkloric vampires were believed to be more active at night, they were not generally considered vulnerable to sunlight.
There are many ways to dispose of a vampire, but the most famous method to kill a vampire is a wooden stake through its heart (more commonly the mouth area in Russia and northern Germany and the stomach in north-eastern Serbia). Decapitating the head of a vampire and burying it between the feet, behind the buttocks, or away from the body was common in German and Slavic areas.
Vampire fiction is rooted from the vampire craze of the 1720's and 1730's, which culminated from the bizarre official exhumations of two presumed vampires. One of the earliest forms of vampire based literature was German poem from 1748 named "The Vampire" by Heinrich August Ossenfelder.Also spawned from the 1700's craze were more famous works such as Carmilla (1872), which was written by the writer named Sheridan Le Fanu. The story tells of a young woman's susceptibility to the attentions of a female vampire named Carmilla. And more famously, the story by Bram Stroker (which came to be only 25 years after Carmilla) called "Dracula", which took several cues from the Le Fanu story, and but was the cause for many more forms of vampire based media in the 1900's and 2000's