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Legends and Lore
The Legend of Vampires

The Legend of Vampires

What happened to all the vampires? How did they go from scary, soulless murdering demons to sappy, romance novel characters?  People used to be terrified of them! They stayed in at night, hung garlic and crucifixes to keep them out, and stayed away from cemeteries and anyplace they thought one would be living. Now people fall in love with them. Where did vampires come from? Where did it all go wrong?

The legend of vampires goes back centuries. Just about every culture in the world has its version. Vampire stories started as a way of explaining things related to sickness and death. 

A body releases the gases inside it after death, including breath, and the muscles can also twitch.  Imagine standing next to someone’s corpse and it suddenly breathes or moves! Since people were so superstitious back then, they thought there had to be a supernatural explanation. And since it was scary, it had to be bad. 

The stories grew and before you know it the legend of a creature that drinks blood and brings people back to life was born. If a person died, and members of their family got sick and died – that meant that the first person became a vampire and came back for their family.  The legend evolved to the ways you could become a vampire:

  • A vampire bites you (duh)
  • If you committed suicide, you would turn into a vampire.
  • If you were a witch
  • If a baby was born with teeth between Christmas and Epiphany, it was going to become a vampire.
  • If a cat jumped over your corpse. I hadn’t heard that before, and I can’t find an explanation anywhere.

If a disease caused frightening changes in a person, those changes were attributed to becoming a vampire.  Rabies makes you sensitive to sunlight. Tuberculosis and cancer will waste your body. And we all know how pale a very sick person can get. Sometimes graves were opened to check for a vampire. Your hair and nails keep growing after you die. Your gums dry up which makes teeth look longer. (I already have very pointy incisors, so please don’t dig me up or I’ll bite!) One look at that and people cried vampire.

People started writing books about vampires. John Polidori’s The Vampyre, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Sheridan Le Fanu’s Camilla. The list is huge. Then Ann Rice wrote Interview With the Vampire and everything changed. Sad, lonely, romantic vampires showed up. They felt bad killing people. Suddenly romance was in the undead air! Those vampires were falling in love left and right. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, True Blood (even the evil Eric Northman (yum!) fell in love!) Twilight. What the undead hell happened??? It seems that sexy is the new vampire.

The legend of vampires has also helped form a rare psychiatric disorder called clinical vampirism.  (sometimes called “Renfield’s Syndrome”).  A person develops an erotic attraction to blood and believes that they are a vampire. An event in a person’s life somehow links blood to sexual arousal. This can grow into obsession and belief that the person needs to drink blood to survive. They can also feel that blood gives them power or supernatural abilities. This has three stages:

  1. Autovampirism – They drink their own blood,
  2. Zoophagia – Drinking animal blood. They either get blood from a butcher or kill animals and drink from them.
  3. True vampirism – Drinking other people’s blood, either by getting it from a blood bank or hospital or drinking directly from another person. Without a willing partner, this can lead to murder.

This new “sexy vampire with emotions” has inspired the “vampire scene”.  There are different kinds of vampires.  Energy vampires, and vampires that drink blood. They are careful of their own health, and the health of the people around them. There is another faction that is referred to as “fashion vampires”. These are the people that dress all gothic. They hang out in underground clubs, they make their own little vampire covens. They buy fangs to wear and some even have their teeth filed into fangs. But hey…you do you guys.

I like my vampires scary, I don’t want to marry one. So here is a list of some great vampire movies:

  • Nosferatu – 1922
  • Dracula – 1931
  • Vampyr -Der Traum Des Allan Grey – 1932
  • Horror of Dracula – 1958
  • Black Sunday – 1960
  • The Lost Boys – 1987
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula – 1992
  • 30 Days of Night – 2007
  • Let the Right One In – 2008

These aren’t scary, but I have to add them because they make me happy, and this is my article:

  • Fright Night – 1985
  • Dracula Dead and Loving It – 1995
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – 2012 (Horror? Comedy? No idea, but I like it anyway!)
  • What we do in the Shadows – 2014