Vampires are a race of 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 the "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 the 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 the 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 would 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
In Popular Culture
- Vampires appear in the Twilight Saga as pale beings that have venomous teeth and sparkle in the sun due to their hard, diamond-like skin.
- Vampires are the main focus of the film Vampire Academy. They are seperated into two factions, good, peaceful vampires and evil, vicious vampires. They are shown to have some magic capability.
- Vampires are shown in the "Underworld" franchise as a sub-species created by the vampiric son of a 5th Century immortal. Unlike the traditional vampires, the "Underworld" vampires are viewed, alongside their werewolf counterparts, as a genetic mutation rather than a supernatural phenomena. They have enhanced strength, agility, regeneration, stamina stemming from their vampirism, but are vulnerable to ultraviolet radiation and fatal dismemberment.
- Vampires are an antagonistic race in the "Blade" franchise of the Marvel universe. Created from the original vampire, these creatures are depicted as either humans that were turned by vampires sired by Dracula or Dracula himself. Their vampirism is viewed as a virus rather than a supernatural phenomena like in lore. They have superhuman strength, speed, resilience and regeneration in addition to aging much slower than humans. They're vulnerable to garlic and ultraviolet radiation, but are also vulnerable to silver like werewolves.
- Vampires are a prominent antagonist in the "Lost Boys" franchise.
- Eli/Abby is a prominent vampire in the film "Let the Right One In/Let Me In". In both films, Eli/Abby is a centuries-old vampire in the form of a 12-year-old girl that moves to where the plot of the film takes place and befriends the primary boy of the film, Oskar/Owen. Eli/Abby has a servant in the form of a man (Hakan in Let the Right One In and Thomas in Let Me In) that procures blood for her. Her abilities include strength that allows her to rip people apart, wall-crawling, flight, etc., and her weaknesses include sunlight and being unable to enter rooms or residences unless invited in by the person living there.
- Vlad's vampiric origins are revisited in the film "Dracula Untold", in which he becomes a vampire to save his kingdom and family from an enemy kingdom by seeking the power of an ancient vampire bound to a cave. In this version, he is described as having the strength of 100 men, improved by his swordsmanship skills, the speed of a falling star, dominion over the night and all its creatures, mesmerizing eyes and the ability to turn others into vampires.
- Vampires appear in the series True Blood. They live alongside humans as members of society, which is possible due to the Japanese creation of synthetic blood, which the vampires drink instead of human blood.
- The Vampire Diaries is a series that follows the lives of two vampire brothers who become mixed up in the lives of various humans in the fictional town of Mystic Falls. They have to deal with many other supernatural creatures, including witches, werewolves and doppelgangers.
- In the animated series "Adventure Time", we're introduced to the character Marceline, the Vampire Queen. She exhibits many vampiric abilities seen in other vampires, however, instead of blood, she sustains herself by drinking shades of red. She was once an enemy of Finn and Jake, but later becomes a friend.