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Vampires :. Nights of the Undead. What is a vampire?.

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Nights of the Undead

what is a vampire
What is a vampire?
  • Defined as “a bloodsucking ghost or reanimated body of a dead person believed to come from the grave and wander about by night sucking the blood of persons asleep and causing their death (Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, 1966).
  • Found in every culture, in every time period around the world
    • Vampire foxes (Japan); green- or pink-haired, red-eyed creatures (China); chupacabra (Mexico)
vampire myth
Vampire myth
  • Vampires we know of come from Slavic/Romanian myths
    • Believed “unclean spirits” could possess a decomposing body
    • Spirit needed blood to sustain body
  • Split in Catholic church
      • Roman Catholic – believed uncorrupted bodies were saints
      • Eastern Orthodox – believed uncorrupted bodies were vampires
  • Uncorrupted?
    • Doesn’t decompose
    • Reasons? Cold ground; chemicals in ground

“Modern” myth

    • Sleep during the day in dirt from homeland
    • drink blood to sustain self,
    • holy water & crucifix will burn, hates sunlight,
    • can transform into other creatures (bats, wolves, mist, fog),
    • no reflection
literature movies
Literature & movies
  • Vampires were horrible creatures that created terror
  • Literature begins to transform vamps into seductive creatures
    • John Polidori’s “The Vampyre” 1818 – written during the same trip to Geneva that M. Shelley wrote Frankenstein
    • Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897)
    • Most of modern ideas of vampires come from Stoker’s brain
      • Coffins filled with earth from native land
      • Needing to be invited into a home
      • Able to transfigure or shape-shift
      • Not able to create a reflection in a mirror
medical reasons for vampirism
Medical reasons for vampirism
  • Anemia
  • Consumption (lung tuberculosis)
  • Porphyria – blood disease
    • Photosensitivity
    • Pale skin
    • Skin around lips and gums tightens (make teeth appear to get longer)
    • Garlic makes the symptoms worse


    • Severe photosensitivity
      • The sun causes irritation, burning, blistering of skin
      • Often individuals cannot of out in sunlight at all
  • Depends on the culture but typically these objects will hurt a vampire
    • Garlic
    • Branch of a wild rose
    • Branch of hawthorn plant
    • Sacred objects (rosary, crucifix, holy water, etc.)
  • Cannot cross running water or consecrated ground
  • Cannot enter a house unless invited
  • No reflection or shadow (reason? No soul)
killing a vampire and making sure it stays dead this time
Killing a vampire (and making sure it stays dead this time)
  • Decapitation
  • Staking

To keep it dead and keep others safe:

  • After decapitation, place head between feet and stuff the mouth with garlic
  • Bury the body upside down
  • Cut out the heart and burn it
  • To cure someone bitten: burn vampire body parts and feed to the bitten person
real vampires
Real vampires?
  • Vlad the Impaler (VladTepes Dracula) (1431-1476)
  • Father ,VladDracul, was prince of Wallachia 1400s
    • Member of the Order of the Dragon
    • “Dracul” means dragon or devil
    • “Dracula” means son of the dragon/devil
  • Tried to keep peace with Turks by turning back on the Order
    • Vlad(son) and brother Radu sent to Turks as “insurance”
    • Learned about war, torture
  • Dracul was murdered, eldest son buried alive by boyars (wealthy merchants); Vlad returns home at 17 with a purpose
vlad the impaler
Vlad the Impaler
  • As revenge, Easter Sunday 1459, Vlad impaled the older boyars outside the city walls, forced the rest to march to Poienari to build his castle.
    • Literally worked to death
    • Took the boyars’ property and positions and gave them to people loyal to him
  • Anyone who did wrong was brutally punished
    • Killed 30,000 merchants because they disobeyed trade laws – left bodies to rot outside city walls
    • Two Turkish ambassadors refused to remove their caps on a visit . Vlad asked why; told it was the custom to keep them on. Vlad then nailed the caps on their heads so they could never be removed.
wars with the turks
Wars with the Turks
  • Vlad considered a hero by the Catholic Church
  • Why?
    • Fought off the Turks (Muslims)
    • Wallachia and surrounding area border of Muslim lands
      • Fear was Turks would take over Europe
    • Vlad successful

1461 Sultan Mehmed II, conqueror of Constantinople (modern Istanbul), marched to Tirgoviste

  • As his army approached the city, sees 20,000 Turkish prisoners impaled
    • “forest of stakes”
  • According to legend, Mehmed saw this and left
  • In the end, Dracula was imprisoned twice and regained power each time
    • In one battle, he escaped back to his castle in secret
    • His wife, fearing capture, leaped to her death from a tower; Vlad escaped through an under ground tunnel
    • During one capture, Vlad impaled insects, small animals in his cell
  • Died in battle near Bucharest in December 1476
    • Decapitated (head sent to Constantinople where the Sultan stuck it on a stake and displayed it)
    • Body supposedly buried at Snagov (monastery island near Bucharest)
elizabeth bathory vampire countess
Elizabeth Bathory (Vampire countess)
  • Born a Hungarian princess 1560-1614 in what is now the country of Slovakia
  • Married young, had four children, able to speak several languages
  • Claim to fame?
    • Supposedly drank and bathed in blood of her victims – young virgins – to retain her youth
the myth
The Myth
  • After beating a servant girl, whose blood splattered on Bathory’s skin, she felt the blood made her skin appear more youthful
  • Murdered over 600 girls
    • Began with peasants – families told they were selected to attend a finishing school – but eventually continued to include daughters of nobility, who got upset
the reality
The Reality
  • Not a vampire, but a sadistic serial killer
  • Aided by several servants, who were put to death after being found guilty
  • Bathory was sealed within a room in her castle
    • Slits made in the door to pass her food
    • All doors and windows sealed up
    • Dies 3 ½-4 years later
bram stoker
Bram Stoker
  • Born in Ireland, 1847-1912
  • During his lifetime, known as personal assistant to actor, Henry Irving, and business manager of Lyceum Theatre in London
  • Wrote Dracula in 1897
  • Years earlier, had taught classes on folklore and vampire myth/legend
    • Familiar with Vlad and history of that region
    • Had never been to Romania