Every culture has folk-stories about blood sucking fiends who haunt the night looking for helpless victims. India has “Bhoots”, China has the “Jiang Shi”, there are the Greek “Vrykolakas”, and in America we have “Lawyers”.
The vampires we think of today started out in the Balkans, mostly around Bosnia and Serbia, eventually making their way West. Before modern embalming techniques dead people were just thrown into a box or a hole and left to do what corpses do, which isn’t much. Ancient Serbians didn’t have cable so everyone wasn’t a T.V. certified forensic pathologist from N.C.I.S. University. Depending on the weather and what condition people were in when they died, corpses rot differently. If the ground was frozen you’d just tuck grandma away somewhere until you could get around to digging a hole. People were understandably taken aback when they’d go out to the barn and grandma is laying there looking as fresh as the day she shit her pants for the last time. Meanwhile, when Grandpa died last summer, he started falling apart before the funeral. This is the basis for all folklore; People making shit up to explain what they don’t understand.
The original vampires didn’t sparkle or live in castles. They were bloated, disgusting, dirty monsters with weird fluids leaking out of their holes, which is exactly what a decomposing corpse looks like. In the 16-1700’s Serbia had a pretty bad rabies problem. Everyone would be chillin’ in the village and ole Nikola from down the street would get bit by a rabid wolf while hunting in the forest. He’d drag his mangled ass into the village, frothing at the mouth, and start fucking people up. Nikka must have been bit by a vampire, better chop his head off. Another common scenario is Nikola goes out galivanting and comes back with a nasty case of Tuberculosis (otherwise known as consumption) or some strain of the plague. Nikola has blood on his lips from coughing up a lung, getting the village all infected and shit. Then people start dying, starting with Nikola. Nikka must have been a vampire, better dig him up and chop his head off.
In the early 1700’s a Serbian guy named Arnold Paole ran away from his post as a hajduk (basically border patrol) because he said he was being hassled by a vampire. But it was cool because he ate some dirt from the vampire’s grave and smeared vampire blood on himself to get rid of the monster, cause you know…that makes perfect sense. Soon after he got home Arnold fell off a hay cart and died from a broken neck. A month later people started dying mysteriously. Five years later there was another outbreak of mysterious deaths. The powers that be sent a doctor named Glaser to the village to see if the plague had come to visit. If the village had a doctor or at least someone with a third-grade education that could say something like, "These are wildly unrelated events that have nothing to do with each other and have everything to do with diseases," That would have been the end of it. Instead, Dr. Glaser walked into a camp of Pikeys who should have been more concerned with washing their hands than nocturnal revenants.
The villagers are all like, “Arnold was a vampire and now he’s back. But it’s cool. We’ve all been eating dirt and smearing blood on ourselves so we should be ok.” Glaser takes everyone’s statements and examines the bodies. He tells the people, “Ya’ll are unhealthy because your diet is shit and you’re dying because ya’ll some nasty motherfuckers.” They’re like, “Nope. Vampires. We need to dig up all our dead relatives and cut their heads off.” Glaser calls the home office to explain the situation. He’s all, “These people are dangerously stupid. Can I let them cut their expired relative’s heads off to make em happy so I can get the fuck out of here before I get the plague?” The office says no and sends a guy named Johannes Fluckinger in for a second opinion. Fluckinger does his investigation and determines, “It’s goddamn vampires!” Then him and a bunch of gypsies had a corpse decapitating party. The Glaser and Fluckinger’s reports got out, were translated to several languages, and published across Europe. It was like the Mueller Report of the time, except people actually read the Fluckinger report.
This is the beginning of vampire-mania.
John Polidori was the personal physician to famous writer Lord Byron, who penned such classics as “Don Juan.” Byron and his crew were vacationing in Switzerland the stormy summer of 1816, where they decided to take turns coming up with scary stories since the weather was too shite to go outside. This vacation is famous because it is where Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein. On that trip, Polidori also wrote a famous monster story called “The Vampyre,” about a debonair vampire who walks among fancy folks and seduces them. This is the moment the modern vampire crawled out of its coffin and started making women damp as a crypt in August.
Dracula is the undisputed heavyweight of vampire lore. The fictional Dracula got his name from Vlad III Draculea from Wallachia (Romania). Vlad III got the name Dracula from his father, but not because it was the family name. Dracula is Romanian for “Dragon.” Vlad’s father was a knight in an organization called “The Order of the Dragon,” which was an order of chivalric knights founded by Sigismund von Luxembourg to protect the Monarchy and the Roman Catholic Church. The Order of the Dragon was a spinoff of the Order of Saint George, which was named after the saint who slew a dragon. Vlad was a national hero in his time for protecting Wallachia from the Ottomans. He got the nickname Tepes (Impaler) because after a battle he’d take all the losers and shove giant spikes up their ass and wash his hands with their blood before he sat down to a meal in the middle of a field of screaming human shish-kabobs. Obviously, he was batshit insane, but after word got around about the butthole spikes most armies took the scenic route around Wallachia.
More than 400 years after Vlad’s death, Bram Stoker wrote his iconic vampire story “Dracula.” In the original version the villain’s name was “Count Wampyr” and the book was titled “The Un-Dead.” Thankfully, during Bram Stoker’s research he ran across a book on Vlad Draculea and thought to himself, “That’s fuckin’ totes badass” and changed the name.
In 1892 Mercy Brown of Rhode Island came down with a nasty case of consumption. During a rough winter she died, along with several members of her family. Concerned townsfolk found her body in a freezing cold crypt which kept her preserved. In an effort to save the soul of her brother Edwin, they cut out her heart and liver and burned them. Then they made Edwin eat the ashes of his sister’s two-month-old organs to inoculate him against becoming a vampire too.
This shit happened five years before Bram Stoker published Dracula. It is believed Bram heard about the story and used Mercy as the inspiration for the character Lucy.
Because stupid never goes out of style, vampire-mania spread like an STD. Archeologists have unearthed vampire burials from Poland to the United States. You can tell when someone was a suspected vampire because they would be buried facing downward with a rock under their neck and a blade wedged over it, intended to cut grandma’s head off if she tries to get up. Other telltale signs are: The head is cut off preemptively and wedged between the legs, spikes driven into the heart and tongue, severed tendons, and hands tied. Remember, people usually got diagnosed as a vampire when someone died, and then a bunch of other people died, so the townsfolk got to looking at fresh corpses to see who rotted the least. Any time a disease came through town folks were like, “Grandma was the first one to die. I guess we have to dig her up, chop her head off, cut out her heart, and run some nails through her fucking skull.”
Vampires are afflicted with a condition called arithmomania, which is like O.C.D. that makes you have to count things. People would carry handfuls of rice or grains with them in case they ran into a vampire. They’d throw the grains like the lamest hand grenade ever and run away while Rain Man has to sit there and count everything. One grain… ha ha ha… Two… two pieces of grain, ha ha ha!
Governor Eric Chiwaya, of Malawi was stoned by an angry mob accusing him of colluding with vampires. Thankfully Chiwaya survived the attack, although several other people were hurt and one person was killed…..In 2003!