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Vampires Impact On Literature, Movies, Ect

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Does Dracula, Queen of the Damned, or Anne Rice sound familiar? Surely, they must, but not just for one person. In fact, for people all over the world! The three terms expressed all have one thing in common; vampires. These mythical creatures are one of the most popular horror-related figures. Vampires may be a frightening subject for most, but that does not take away from the fact of their popularity throughout. The fascination of vampires has greatly affected past, present, and future cultures all around the world.

“The word vampire (or vampyre) entered the English language in 1732, according to The Oxford English Dictionary” (Skal 200). One can’t go living life without knowing about the vampire because they’re everywhere! Someone can spot a vampire on a cereal box known as Count Chocoula, commercials for candy, mouth wash, nail polish, greeting cards, even a grammar book called The Transitive Vampire. There are also many groups based upon vampires such as Vampire Information Exchange (VIE), Vampire Pen Pal Network, Vampire Studies Society, and who could forget the thousands of people who have become members of the Count Dracula Fan Club. Vampires are very well known to everyone.

To describe a vampire can be more difficult than one thinks, because of how diverse they can be. “We have vampires, energy vampires, emotional vampires, mortal vampires prone to illness, and vampires who’ve inherited their condition, or become that by sorcery, reincarnation, or a virus” (Ramsland 176). Vampires have quite a large number of traits, reactions, and abilities. Some include: animation of corpse, immortality and defiance of aging, physical agility and increased strength, ability to see in the dark, ability to shape shift into animal forms, dust, or mist, teeth with a sharp point, and of course, thriving exclusively on blood. Also, to recognize some of the physical traits in a vampire would consist of aversion to sunlight, pale skin, red eyes, foul breath, lack of reflection in mirror, hairy palms, and lack of decomposition in the grace. Astonishingly, there are countless more ways of describing the vampire.

No one knows for sure the exact time or place of the vampire’s origin. The ancient Greeks and Romans recorded instances of vampirism. The Ancient Romans had ceremonies in which their blood was sacrificed for Attis in order to have a fertilized soil for their crops. The Ancient Greeks believe in two demons related to the vampire. The first was Empusa, who feasted on the blood of men by transforming into a young woman and seducing them as they slept before drinking their blood. Second was Lamia who feasted on children and young men. Australia Aborigines considered blood an important ingredient for curing the sick. Persians are also one of the first civilizations to come up with the idea of a vampire. Lilitu was considered a demon and was often depicted as subsisting on the blood of babies according to the Babylonians. The Ashanti people in Africa said there was an iron-toothed and tree-dwelling asanbosam, which took the form of a firefly that hunted children. Ancient Greeks, Romans, Persians, Aborigines, Babylonians, Mesopotamians, the Ashanti, and Hebrews all had stories of demons and spirits that are considered to be ancestors to modern vampires.

The vampire we know today, however, originates from the early 18th century in Southeastern Europe. Fear of vampires reached an epidemic hysteria in Europe. Frightened peasants would pay peddlers lots of money for charms and medallions. Werewolves were also a major scare during this time period. “Many outbreaks of vampirism in Eastern Europe could be traced to the belief in werewolves…According to the legend, when a werewolf died, it immediately became a vampire” (Baumann 7). Superstitious peasants believe that vampires could take the form of a bat or puff of smoke to enter into a victim’s house. They believed that the vampire would first lull the victim into a deep sleep, and then plunge its sharp teeth into the jugular vein. After that, the vampire would return to its grave with blood dripping from the corners of its mouth. These beliefs are the closest to our modern vampire.

People have always and will always be affected by the infamous vampire. “Norine Dresser, a folklorist at UCLA also wrote a book at that time called American Vampires in which she documented vampire images in the media and described the effects on people who claimed to be vampires. She sent out a questionnaire, and out of 574 respondents, 27 percent admitted to a belief in vampires” (Ramsland 65). Certain individuals would file their teeth into a razor-sharp weapon, sleep in coffins, avoid the sun, and dress entirely in black. Some people would even form small groups to exchange blood in secret. Sadly enough, people would go too far to become their fictitious character. Known as “Lust Murders,” people would kill in order to get a sexual pleasure as a vampire would. In 1827, a moody 24 year old vine dresser named Leger killed a 12 year old girl in the woods. He admitted that he drank her blood, mutilated her genitals, tore out and ate a part of her heart, and then buried her remains. When he was questioned about his horrific event, he talked with no emotion or remorse. Two other “Lust Murders” comprise of a man cutting his arm for his wife to suck on before sex because it would arouse his wife so strongly. The second is “a man dissected his victims and got so caught up in the gore



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