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Vampires are both a class and a type of undead. The creature commonly thought of as vampire has its roots in the 1819 novella The Vampyre. This vampire is a nocturnal, pale-skinned, fanged undead who drinks blood and can turn into a bat. However, this vampire's traits are collected from a huge palette of vampiric creatures mainly from Europe, which collectively have come to be called vampires too.
After Austria gained control of northern Serbia and Oltenia with the Treaty of Passarowitz in 1718, officials noted the local practice of exhuming bodies and "killing vampires". These reports, prepared between 1725 and 1732, received widespread publicity. Specifically, it was the Serbian word "вампир" ("vampir"), used for Arnold Paole, a purported vampire from the time period when Serbia was incorporated into the Austrian Empire, that made it into the West European languages.
What the word ultimately means is unknown, though there are two theories. Almost all Slavic languages possess some variation of the word, such as "upir", "wąpierz", and "upiór". One theory thus states that the Slavic languages have adapted the word from a Turkic term for "evil supernatural entity" (commonly simplified as "witch") , which is the Tatar word "ubyr". The word "upir" as a term for vampire is found for the first time in written form in 1047 in a letter to a Novgorodian prince referring to him as "Upir Lichyj" ("Wicked Vampire"). Another theory is that the Slavic variations come from the Slovak verb "vrepiť sa", which means "stick to" or "thrust into", which would make "upír" translateable as "someone who thrusts or bites".
Following the popularization of vampires in horror stories in the early 19th century, the word "vampire" has been adapted to represent two monster definition. Primarily, "vampire" refers to the common Western idea of a blood-sucking undead with fangs and a dislike for sunlight. Secondarily, the word can be used to describe the collective of vampiric creatures abundantly present in the mythology of about every culture. In this sense, the word is a little arbitrarily applied. A vampire of this kind is not really required to drink blood, only to feed on something either the living or the pure possess. However, monsters like zombies, which eat brains, are generally not regarded as being covered by the second definition of "vampire", so the term is a little arbitrarily applied.
Vampire origins and variations
Due to the immense variety of vampiric creatures, it is impossible to say where the concept of vampires originated, if it originated in one spot and from one source at all. At the least, European vampires are believed to have their roots in two observations: the one on decomposition and the one on disease.
When life functions cease, decomposition sets in. This humans have always known. What humans not have always known is why and how this happens. Two bodies buried at the same time decompose differently depending on the differences between the condition of the bodies, the soil, the temperature, and a number of other factors. As such, on occasions where bodies were dug up, sometimes one body or a few would not look as decomposed as the rest or as what people expected them to be. In fact, due to formation of decomposition gasses, bodies can appear "well-fed", and those same gases can increase the internal pressure of the body and force blood to ooze from the nose and mouth. Following this, if a hole is poked into the body, as with a stake, the escaping gases can produce a sound as if sighing or groaning. Also, when a body decomposes, its fluids evaporate, causing loss of skin mass. As such, nails and hair can appear to have grown a while after the body stopped working, simply because the skin has pulled back. Observations like these would give the impression that the deceased had remained active until dug up and finished for good.
Another common theme with early vampire lore is disease, specifically easily transmittable ones. A theme of vampirism itself is that it is a transmittable condition no one but the depraved wants to have, setting up a comparison between the ravenous reanimated corpse that works under the cover of night and a highly contagious disease to people who have no knowledge of the existence or workings of bacteria and virusses. Specifically, vampirism is compared to rabies and tuberculosis. Rabies is a contagious disease that affects both human and animals and is often transmitted through biting, since the virus is highly present in the infected's saliva. This is due to the virus increasing the salivary glands's activity, which itself can result in frothing around the mouth. At first this is saliva, but as the infected's condition worsens, tissue becomes weaker and blood can pour through into the froth. Rabies also affects the central nervous system and causes inflammation of the brain, thus accounting for a wide range of behavioral changes the infected can go through in later stages of the disease, such as nocturnal activity, introversion, increased sexuality, and aggression. Finally, rabies makes the senses more sensitive, thus sometimes causing its patients to avoid bright light and noise or things that smell and taste strongly. Tuberculosis's link with vampirism is mostly an English association, where it was noted that if someone died from tuberculosis, that person's relatives would lose their health slowly and eventually die too. As such, the first to die was thought to be a vampire who drained their family's life from beyond the grave.
When the word "vampire" comes up, the common image that appears is that of a deceased human with pale skin, red eyes, and fangs, and possibly pointy ears and claws. A vampire may be the same person as the deceased or a demonic soul inhabiting the recently vacated body. Vampires are nocturnal creatures who sleep in their coffins, which are sometimes filled with blood or earth from their grave, by day and who are harmed by sunlight. They cannot cross running water (a bridge may or may not get them across) or go into a house uninvited, are repelled or even harmed by garlic, silver, iron, and religious (often Christian) paraphernalia, have no reflection and sometimes no shadow either, and need to be killed by a stake through the heart, decapitation, or burning. To spare themselves any of these fates, vampires can change into bats or a variety of other animals or even fog. They can control animals, hypnotize people, have improved strength and agility, and do not age into weakness. They require blood as nourishment and usually bite people's necks to acquire the blood. Depending on fiction and circumstances, the victim dies, becomes a semi-dead servant of the vampire, or becomes a vampire themself. If not bitten, theoretically any deceased can return as a vampire, but those who've led bad lives or were cursed during life are more prone to it.
Many of these traits have been taken from the rich diversity of vampiric creatures spoken of in European cultures, though vampiric creatures are by no means monsters exclusive to Europe. A selection of vampires other than West European vampires is described below to give an idea of the world-wide variety.
The adze is a vampiric being from Ewe folklore. It lives on coconut water, palm oil, and blood, though it can only go without blood for so long. Its main source of blood is children, and to reach them it takes the form of a firefly. Capture forces the adze reto turn to human form, though in some cases only partially, resulting in the adze taking a much more dangerous and voracious humanoid firefly form. In human form, an adze can possess humans, who in return bring bad fortune to those around them, particularly to those they envy. Adzes also are highly involved in the spreading of disease.
The estrie is a Hebrew vampiric creature which is exclusively female. Rather than undeads, estries are humanlike demons or demonic humans, dependig on interpretation. Estries feed on blood, but if they are injured by a human, they need to eat bread and salt given to them by that very human in order to heal. Similarly, estries are not sensitive to religious symbols and can heal from injuries too if they can get a human to pray for them. Estries favor the night, but may not be bound to it like many other types of vampires. They can change form and favor the guise of a cat or owl. Estries can also fly in human form, but only if their hair is unbound. Estries are best destroyed by decapitation or burning, and if another method is used that does not damage the body too much, their mouths need to be closed or filled with dirt in order to prevent them from rising again.
The jiang shi (Chinese)/gangshi (Korean)/kyonshī (Japanese) is more akin to a zombie than a vampire, but it does have vampiric traits and modern adaptions tend to emphasize this comparison. Traditionally, jiang shis are corpses reanimated due to a person's qi not leaving the body fully or the body being buried in a qi-rich environment. Jiang shis have long white hair, long black fingernails, a lolling black tongue, and a greenish skin, the latter of which is to be blamed on the growth of moss. Due to rigor mortis, they cannot move their limbs very well, hence their name, which translates to "stiff corpse". In order to move around, jiang shis hop. A good protection against jiang shis is thus to make the doorway a bit lower so they can't hop into the house. Jiang shis are not intelligent and only act on their need to feed. Traditionally, spells can make a jiang shi more manageable, though the usage of an ofuda is a modern invention. Jiang shis feed on qi by sucking out breath, though can just as easily be destroyed if their breath is sucked out. Since jiang shis are blind, a person should stand still and hold their breath to prevent detection. Many modern interpretations of the jiang shi, though, have them feeding on blood like European vampires. A jiang shi can be scared off by their own reflection, and destruction happens with fire, peach wooden weaponry, or the nailing of jujube seeds into the acupoints on the jiang shi's back.
The nachzehrer is a German vampire. The name translates to "afterwards devourer", which refers to the nachzehrer's tendency to eat parts of its own body, an act through which energy is drained from the nachzehrers' relatives. When nothing more can be eaten without handicapping the nachzehrer, the nachzehrer rises and starts feeding on both corpses and the living people they can get their hands on. A nachzehrer has the ability to turn themself into a pig and by ringing the bells in a church belfry, they can bring death to all who hear. Nachzehrers cannot create other nachzehrers, and new nachzehrers rise up at random, although removing the name of the deceased from their burial clothing is a guarantee they can't turn into a nachzehrer. A nachzehrer can be rendered immobile by placing clumps of earth under their chin, placing a coin or stone in their mouth, or tying a handkerchief tightly around their neck. To permanently get rid of them, the nachzehrer has to be beheaded, a long spike has to be driven all the way through the head, or the tongue has to be fixed into place.
The sampiro is an Albanian vampire. It is completely wrapped up in its burial shroud or other flowing pieces of fabric, giving it an appearance not unlike a ghost's. The only part clearly visible are the sampiro's glowing eyes which pierce from the darkness under their hood. Sampiros also wear very high heels, which make a characteristic tapping noise as the creatures follow their prey. The high heels also make sampiros sway ominously. Another sound produced by sampiros is the smacking of lips in anticipation of their meal. Adding to their creepy apparition is that sampiros are prone to come out when there's fog. However, sampiros are not all that dangerous, as they nourish on fear almost as much as blood and only take a little bit from their victim. Only when a sampiro chooses to visit a particular victim multiple times is there a chance of death. Sampiros do not create other sampiros. Traditionally, any person whom Albanian society at large doesn't like is prone to become a sampiro after death.
While traditionally not counted as vampires, the modern interpretation of succubi and incubi often has them as vampires on account that they prey on the living in a fashion not unlike the West European vampire. The words "succubus" and "incubus" are Latin and respectively mean "person who lies under" and "person who lies on top", referring to traditional perceptions of which gender should be located where during intercourse. "Succubus" is actually a malformation of the original word "succuba", which indicates a female form. This and modern sentiments that people have the right to their own preferences have brought some to 'introduce' succubae and incubae - female versions of the redefined succubi and the incubi. The 'cube collective are demonic creatures rooted in the Abrahamic religions that feed on emotional and sexual energy. Commonly, they visit their victims at night. Their superior strength makes it easy to restrain their prey, accounting for the occurrence of sleep paralysis. Their is no specific way to destroy one of these creatures, but proper display of religion and religious artifacts will chase them off.
The wampir/vieszcy/upierczi is a Russian and Polish vampire that looks very much human. Instead of fangs, the upierczis have stingers under their tongues with which they pierce skin to get to the blood. Upierczis have the ability to cause droughts. Their time of activity starts at noon and ends at midnight. New upierczis come into existence from the deceased who committed suicide, died a particular violent death, or practiced witchcraft during life. Upierczis can be destroyed by being drowned in fresh water (possibly salt water too), but the safest option is to burn them. When burned, the upierczi's body will burst open as hundreds of small, disgusting animals (maggots, rats, etc.) jump out. All of these have to be killed too, or else the upierczi can resurrect themself.
Vampires in fiction
The lore of the West European vampire has been largely formed by British writers, particularly Victorian (1830s to 1900s) Englishmen, almost a century after the vampire craze of the 1720s and 1730s brought the East European creatures into the West European landscape. The creature's story properly starts with John Polidori's 1819 gothic horror novella The Vampyre, which combined the various East European vampiric traits into a coherent entity and set the stage for the suave, charismatic, and aristocratic vampire. The vampire of the story is the British Lord Ruthven, whom was lightly based on the real-life Lord Byron, a controversial English nobleman at the time who easily made enemies. However, Byron was a friend of Polidori's, and the intent of the connection between him and Ruthven wasn't to villainize him, but to redirect the demonization by others. The plot of the The Vampyre details the meeting of the Englishman Aubrey with Lord Ruthven, whom Aubrey thinks to befriend. Instead, Aubrey figures out that Ruthven is a vampire and responsible for the deaths of two women they met in Italy and Greece and in the end is unable to save his own sister from the same fate, which brings about his own death as well. Though The Vampyre introduced the aristocratic vampire, Ruthven only has a few traits in commmon with later West European vampires, as most of today's vampire conventions were created in the later decennia. For instance, he has no visible fangs and is not bothered by daylight or otherwise limited in his travel abilities. What he does have in terms of abilities not seen in East European folklore is a potential to be fully healed of any injury if he is exposed to moonlight. This trait was only repeated in one other West European vampire: Francis Varney.
Sir Francis Varney is the vampire protagonist featured in Varney the Vampire; or, the Feast of Blood, which is a penny dreadful gothic horror series generally believed to be from the hand of James Malcolm Rymer. It is the second big entry in the West European vampire lore and its original run lasted from 1845 to 1847. Due to the medium of choice, Varney the Vampire is not a coherent story with a specific plot. The story is stated to be set in the early eighteenth century, but there are references to events and conditions that place it in the mid-nineteenth century. Also, Varney's adventures occur randomly in various locations across Europe, including London, Bath, Winchester, Naples, and Venice. The plot, unplanned as it is, details Varney's harassment of the Bannerworths, an impoverished human family of which Varney might be an ancestor, though he also terrorizes another family, the Croftons, of whom he turns one woman into a vampire out of revenge at one point. The reason for Varney's targeting of these families originally was sustenance, but later in the story it is suggested that monetary interests are the motivation. Over the course of Varney the Vampire, Varney is presented with increasing sympathy as a victim of circumstances - a first in vampire fiction. Though he tries to save himself, he is ultimately unable to do so and commits suicide by throwing himself into Mount Vesuvius. As one of the early West European vampires, Varney set several standards of the entity: Varney has fangs, leaves two puncture wounds on the necks of his victims, has hypnotic powers, and has superhuman strength. On the other hand, Varney does not suffer any confinement due to his condition, such as needing to avoid sunlight or to sleep in a coffin. A perk of vampire-ship that Varney exclusively shares with Ruthven is that being exposed to moonlight will heal all wounds. Lastly, Varney can eat and drink as a human as well, though it does not do anything for him.
Following Varney the Vampire is the 1872 gothic horror novella Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. Unlike its predecessors, the vampire of the story is female as well as homosexual, making Carmilla the progenitor of the lesbian vampire genre. The story was originally published in Carmilla was in the magazine The Dark Blue and only months later reprinted in the author's collection of five horror stories called In a Glass Darkly. The significance of the second print is that Carmilla is written as part of the casebook of the fictional Dr. Martin Hesselius, an occult doctor, as are the other four stories. Carmilla tells the story of Countess Mircalla Karnstein, who lived in Styria, Austria during the late 17th century. In the present of the mid 19th century, she is a vampire who goes by various anagrams of her original name to inflitrate and gain the trust of families that have a daughter in the household. These daughters she feeds on for the course of a few weeks during their sleep, after which they die. Mircalla's last victim is Bertha, niece of General Spielsdorf, who only was just too late in discovering Mircalla's ploy to save Bertha. Mircalla's sight then goes to Laura, a descendent of hers through her mother's line, to whom and to whose father she introduces herself as Carmilla. Carmilla takes a special interest in Laura, delaying her fate long enough for Laura's father to get suspicious and take his daughter on a trip away from Carmilla. Coincidentally, they meet Spielsdorf, a friend of Laura's father, from whom they learn who and what Carmilla actually is. With Spielsdorf's help as well as Baron Vordenburg's, a member of a family of vampire hunters, Carmilla is destroyed and Laura saved.
Carmilla's influence on the West European vampire is larger than one might initially suspect. For starters, the titular character was very lightly influenced by the historical figure of Countess Elizabeth Báthory, who since the 1970s has become part of vampiric lore herself. In turn, Carmilla was of large influence on the novel Dracula and is considered the inspiration for the Sisters as well as Countess Dolingen and with that Countess Marya Zaleska, thus putting Mircalla at the source of all significant female West European vampires. Another development presented by Carmilla is the addition of weaknesses and limitations for vampires. Mircalla isn't harmed by daylight, but she's not nearly as energetic and powerful as during the night. Favorably, she and other vampires use daytime to return to their graves, in which a pool of blood to sleep in is located, to keep themselves going. Vampires can't relocate their own gravesite, thus limiting the range of their territory. On the other hand, Mircalla is significantly more powerful than her predecessors. She possesses superhuman strength and can shapeshift into multiple kinds of animals, though heavily favors the shape of a cat. Mircalla can pass through closed doors and even the lid and earth on her own grave. Mircalla's fangs aren't overly obvious and her complexion not particularly pale. A plot point of Carmilla that is never cleared up is the number of people helping her infiltrate various families, after which they disappear from the story. Though they could be vampires themselves, the story presents Mircalla's death as the end of the problems in Styria, making it more likely they are lesser servants, whether human or something else. Carmilla thus is the first story to feature a vampires' 'need' for servants. As with Varney, Mircalla is given moments of insight into her character that prevent her from being and being interpreted as a complete monster.
The fourth and last big classic vampire tale is Bram Stoker's iconic 1897 gothic horror novel Dracula, which featured not one but four vampires, may have been meant to contain a fifth, and directly inspired the "creation" of three more vampires through important adaptions of the novel. The novel takes a lot of inspiration from the novella Carmilla, which is most noticeable in the deleted first chapter titled Dracula's Guest. The titular vampire is partially inspired by the historical Vlad III, who was patronymically named Dracula, which meant "Son of the Dragon" in his time but by the time Dracula was written had evolved to mean "Son of the Devil". It is the latter meaning which motivated Stoker's choice to name his vampire Dracula, whose name originally was to be Wampyr. Many post-1970 adaptions of the Dracula story conflate the the historical Vlad III and fictional Dracula though. Dracula takes place in 1893, when Jonathan Harker travels to Dracula's castle in Transylvania, Romania to help the count with a real estate transaction in England. When his use is over, Dracula leaves Harker for the Sisters, three female vampires that live in his castle, to feed on, while he travels to England. Harker escapes, if heavily traumatized, and makes his way to a convent in Budapest, Hungary to heal. There, he is joined by his fiancée Wilhelmina "Mina" Murray, who helps him get better and marries him. Meanwhile, in England Dracula has found Lucy Westenra, Mina's dearest friend as well as a highly desired woman. He bites her over the course of a few days, during which Lucy's suitors notice her growing sick and contact Abraham Van Helsing, a man with knowledge on obscure diseases. Though Van Helsing is familiar with vampirism, he realizes too late what ails Lucy and she is turned into a vampire. With the help of her suitors, Van Helsing manages to destroy the new vampire. The men then decide to avenge her by destroying Count Dracula, and in this endeavour are soon joined by the Harkers. Out of revenge, Dracula bites Mina with the intent to turn her into a vampire. The group's quest for revenge for Lucy becomes one to save Mina, for which they follow the count back to Transylvania. The group battles the Sisters, whom are killed, and Romani servants of Dracula, before finally they get to the count and destroy him, ending the curse on Mina.
Dracula is by far the most influential vampire story of them all, its contents being adapted and referenced in countless of works. To a point, it owes its success to Carmilla from which it drew various elements such as the archetypes of Lucy, the Sisters, and Van Helsing. It also followed Carmilla's introduction of servants of the vampire, though as far as the Romani servants of Dracula are concerned, it is never specified whether they knew they were aiding a vampire or not. In regards to the Sisters, Dracula is the first West European vampire story that explicitly has multiple vampires which interact with one another in one story. Who the Sisters exactly are is never clarified; despite later works commonly calling them the Brides, they are never called such in the novel. Since they are subordinate to Dracula, the one connection that is implied is that Dracula is the source of their existence as vampires. The Sisters have a minor hierarchy among themselves in that the blonde one is "the first" and can order the other two. As for powers, the vampires of Dracula have superhuman strength and agility, can manipulate the weather, hypnotize people, and command nocturnal animals. They also are able to climb upside down vertical surfaces and can shapeshift into various forms, the novel making mention of a bat, a wolf, a large dog, and fog. Like Mircalla, Dracula feeds on his victims for multiple days. By feeding them some of his blood in return, he sets them up to become vampires too and can telepathically control them, though the link goes both ways and allows the vampires-to-be to track his movement. Dracula can go without drinking blood for centuries, but he does age slowly during this. In turn, drinking blood brings back his youth. The vampires of Dracula are harmed and repelled by religious symbols and traditional folkloristic anti-supernatural materials. Sunlight is not fatal, but it greatly reduces their strength and abilities. Running water can only be crossed at low or high tide and they are unable to enter a place unless invited to do so, but an invitation is permanent. During his time in England, the count brought along Transylvanian soil in order to keep his strength up.
A special portion of Dracula is its deleted first chapter, Dracula's Guest, which eventually saw release in 1914. Its story details a portion of the journey of an unidentified man—generally assumed to be Jonathan Harker—to Dracula's castle. On Walpurgis Night, he goes for a stroll alone and reaches a cemetery which features a tomb with a large iron stake driven through the roof. The inscription on the tomb reads: Countess Dolingen of Gratz - in Styria - sought and found death - 1801. As the storm picks up, the man seeks shelter near the tomb, upon which its doors fly open and he gets to see its inhabitant: a beautiful woman appearing as if asleep. The next moment, a force pulls the man away as a lightning bolt hits the iron stake and the woman within the tomb bursts into flames screaming. A supernatural wolf keeps the man company until the next day, when horsemen arrive to bring the man back to the village. They reveal to him that it was Count Dracula who alerted them, as he had sent a telegram to the man's hotel warning of the dangers from snow and wolves and night. Even more than Dracula, Dracula's Guest echoes Carmilla due to the presence of a female vampire in Styria. It is unknown how Dracula's Guest relates to Dracula, as it is possible that the latter work has been adjusted following the removal of the first chapter, but the protagonist being in Styria during Walpurgis Night, which occurs from April 30st to May 1st, does appear to match Harker reaching Dracula's castle in Transylvania on May 3rd. There are also a few lines referring to incidents in Dracula's Guest that appear in the original editions of Dracula, such as mention of the supernatural wolf. Perhaps most interesting is a line in the third chapter of Dracula in which Harker thinks he recognizes the blonde Sister. Assuming Harker's recognition is due to Dolingen, little in either work allows for the two vampires to be the same person, though it would suggest a relation between them.
As the movie industry picked up pace in the decades after the release of the novel Dracula, many companies sought to acquire the film rights. Universal Pictures was the one to obtain them, but even so the first (confirmed) movie adaption of Dracula was by the German studio Prana Film. That is, since Prana Film didn't have the film rights to Dracula, Henrik Galeen changed the story in several ways so that the eventual product, 1922's Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens, directed by Friedrich Murnau, could qualify as an original piece. The vampire of the story is Count Orlok, played by Max Schreck. Orlok is still aristocratic like his West European predecessors, but whose corpse-like appearance and association with the plague brings him much closer to East European vampires. Notably, Count Orlok is the first vampire ever to be destroyed rather than just weakened by sunlight. In the movie, he lives in a castle in Transylvania and seeks to purchase a house in Wisborg in Germany. For help with the real estate transaction, he invites the solicitor Thomas Hutter to his castle. Hutter is bitten by Orlok during his first night at the castle, but he doen't realize a vampire is responsible for the wounds in his neck until he reads a book about the creatures. Upon exploring the castle, Hutter finds Orlok sleeping in his coffin in the basement and flees back to his room, from which window he later sees Orlok piling up coffins on a coach and climbing into the last one before the coach depart. Hutter uses that moment to flee the castle and return to Wisborg. As it turns out, Orlok's coffins all contain earth from Orlok's grave, as he needs to sleep in it to keep himself going, and plague-infested rats. The rats break out of the coffins on the way, spreading the plague through Europe. This plague provides Orlok with a cover to make victims, allowing him an easy stay in his new house in Wisborg, across Thomas's house. Thomas has made it to Wisborg as well, and through him his wife Ellen finds out about the vampire across as well as a way to kill him: to defeat a vampire, a woman who is pure in heart has distract the vampire with her beauty all through the night so that the daylight will evaporate him. Ellen thinks of volunteering for the trap, but Thomas doesn't want her to sacrifice herself. However, as he leaves to get the help of one Professor Bulwer, Ellen goes through with her plan anyway. She succeeds in destroying Orlok, but leaves her husband grief-stricken.
The first fully legal movie adaption of Dracula was made in 1931 by Universal Pictures. The role of Count Dracula was famously given to Bela Lugosi, while the roles of the Sisters were filled by Jeraldine Dvorak, Dorothy Tree, and Cornelia Thaw. The story of the movie is roughly the same as the novel, though with a greater emphasis on the roles of R. M. Renfield and Van Helsing and a lesser one on the role of Lucy. One particularly notable change is that Dracula is destroyed in England rather than chased back to Transylvania and killed there, meaning that the Sisters do not appear past the beginning of the movie and are thus not destroyed.
Universal Pictures created two sequels to Dracula: the 1936 movie titled Dracula's Daughter, directed by Lambert Hillyer and written by Garrett Fort, and the 1943 movie titled Son of Dracula, directed by Robert Siodmak and written by Curt Siodmak. The story of Dracula's Daughter is lightly based on Dracula's Guest, with the element of homosexuality from Carmilla restored, and thus features a female vampire. This vampire is named Countess Marya Zaleska, who is played by Gloria Holden. Upon the death of her father in Dracula, Zaleska and her human manservant, Sandor, played by Irving Pichel, travel to England to destroy Dracula's corpse and remove the curse of vampirism from Zaleska that has plagued her since her father was turned. It does not work, however, and Zaleska turns to Dr. Jeffrey Garth, a friend of Van Helsing's, for help. He suggests, unaware that Zaleska is a vampire, that to be cured she must confront her urges, which fills Zaleska with hope. Since becoming a vampire, Zaleska has been pursuing her skills in painting and with the piano to keep her human side close, and to confront her urges as advised, she has a female model, Lili, come over to paint her portret. Zaleska fails her own test and attacks Lili, who survives, but dies later of a heart attack. Furious that Garth's advice did not work, Zaleska abducts his love interest, Janet, to Transylvania. Garth by then has figured out he's dealing with a vampire and follows. Garth accepts to be turned into a vampire and become Zaleska's companion if Janet is spared, but before Zaleska can bite him, she is killed by Sandor who has been angered by Zaleska when she refused to grant him immortality. Garth only escapes death because the police drops in and shoot Sandor in time.
Son of Dracula is the only one of the trilogy not based on Stoker's works and it shows in various ways. There are two vampires in the movie, the first of which either is Dracula or his son. The vampire goes by the name Alucard, Dracula in reverse, throughout the entire movie, even after the female lead has identified him as Dracula. Also, rather than Bela Lugosi, Alucard is played by Lon Chaney, Jr., whose character is noticeably less competent than Lugosi's Dracula. And on top of that, if he is Dracula, it is never explained how he could have survived the previous two films. Whichever interpretation, the movie left matters ambiguous enough that the name Alucard caught on in later fiction both as a recurring alias for Dracula himself and as a recurring name for any son he might be written to have. The main character of the movie is the other vampire, who starts out as the human Katherine "Kay" Caldwell, one of the two daughters of a New Orleans plantation owner. She is engaged with Frank Stanley, but knows he can't offer her much. She strikes up a relation with and later marries Alucard, whom she meets in Hungary and recognizes as a vampire, with a three step-plan in mind. The first is for Alucard to kill her father so she inherits the plantation (her sister gets the money, but Alucard's wealth makes up for that). Then Alucard is to turn her into a vampire so she'll be immortal. And lastly, she will turn her true love Frank into a vampire and get him to kill Alucard, so she'll have everything. Step one goes with ease, but before step two can be initiated, a distraught Frank shoots at Alucard for stealing Kay. The bulllets go right through Alucard, but hit Kay, whom is then turned into a vampire the moment Frank is out of sight. Kay later visits Frank in his cell, where he's been locked up after turning himself in for killing her, and explains her whole plan. Frank agrees to burn Alucard's coffin, depriving him of his essential daytime sanctuary, but as the flaw in Kay's plans, Frank doesn't like the idea of becoming part of the Undead and destroys her coffin as well, putting an end to the vampires in New Orleans.
As with all its big monster movies and movie series, Universal Pictures went on to cast Dracula, often played by Bela Lugosi, in numerous spinoff movies. And with this repetition came a pause of sorts in the vampire genre until the 1970s. At this point, a few things happened. The book In Search of Dracula was released in 1972, launching an interest in whatever connection between the fictional Count Dracula and the historical Vlad III can be made. Along this reemerging interest in the historical background of vampire lore did interest in the story of Elizabeth Báthory, a historical countess always peripherally linked to the vampire myth, regrow, leading to her becoming a recurring vampire in multiple modern horror stories. As well, writers became interested in vampires again and started creating new ones in new stories, inspired by old ones but independent altogether, such as 1975's 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King and Anne Rice's 1976's Interview with the Vampire, which would become the first book of the highly popular Vampire Chronicles series. Other notable entries in the "new wave" of vampire stories are the franchise surrounding the Marvel superhero and partial vampire Blade, whose debut was in 1973, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which originated as a 1992 movie meant to empower women who had largely been limited to the role of damsel in distress in vampire stories prior. Executive meddling limited much of the movie's intent, but this was fixed with the 1997 'reboot' in the form of a highly successful TV series. As well, the 1991 World of Darkness role-playing games had a great influence in the trope of vampires and werewolves as archenemies, despite the creatures generally going along well in older stories. Last but not least, 2005 saw the release of the first book of the Twilight series, a vampire novel and movie series that ended in 2012. (In)Famously, it changed vampires being harmed by sunlight to vampires simply sparkling when exposed to it.
Vampires in Monster High
The Monster High vampires are Draculaura and her adoptive father Dracula, Gory Fangtell, Bram Devein, Justin Biter, Elissabat, Rose and Blanche Van Sangre, Thad, and Valentine and his mother. According to Facebook, Draculaura has cousins living in Transylvania, of whom Thad might be one.
Vampires in Monster High follow the post-1970 traditions of vampire lore, though with a focus on classical vampires. They have pointy ears, pale skin, fangs, dress in Victorian fashion or uniforms, they lack a reflection and don't show up on film either (though there's an app that does get them to show up on film), can't go anywhere uninvited, can't stand garlic (supposedly, it gives them pimples), sleep in coffins, can turn into bats (an ability they acquire during puberty), can command bats, and can't stand sunlight very well (requiring them to use sun cream factor 500, parasols, and the like). A trait unique to the Monster High book series is that vampires almost always are cold. The Monster High vampires drink blood, but they can take iron supplements to avoid having to. So far, it is unexplained where and how blood for consumption is acquired.
The main vampire of the franchise, Draculaura, deviates a little from the above description. Despite being of appropriate age, she has yet to acquire the ability to turn into a bat and the fact she still can't does affect her sense of confidence. though unconfirmed, this inability could be linked to her status as a vegetarian. She notes in her 'Basic' diary that her being a vegetarian is linked to various other un-vampiric aspects of her life and that this is in response to an event in her past, as she states that she's "never going back to the way [she] used to be". Her father strongly disagrees with her refusal to act more like a vampire, but he doesn't force her to change.
As per traditional West European vampire lore, all Monster High vampires are aristocratic and wealthy. This is in part because they make others work for them, either by manipulation or force. Werewolves used to be their slaves in earlier days, and the manipulatable zombies are still an easily tapped resource. The vampire Valentine differs a little in his choice of servants as he employs three clouds, who also do seem to be more autonomous in their position relative to their 'master'. Werewolves as servants as well as opponents of vampires is a trope established in West European vampire fiction by 1991's World of Darkness, whereas vampires controlling the weak-of-mind dates back to Dracula.
Despite an abundant pool of available vampires as potential parents, only Draculaura appears to have a parent that exists outside of Monster High fiction: Dracula. Originally, the character was to be called Ula D., but this was changed to Draculaura, with Ula D. becoming her nickname. Draculaura could be a simple play on the name Dracula, but it might also be a reference to the human protagonist of Carmilla, whose name is Laura. The only other vampire character with a name that is a reference is Bram Devein, whose given name recalls Bram Stoker, the writer of Dracula.
As for Dracula in Monster High, Draculaura notes in her 'School's Out' diary that her father "was already a vampire back when togas were first considered fashionable". Togas are believed to have become part of Roman culture at around 600 BC, which would make him at least 2600 years old. She also notes that the vampire usually thought of as her father was actually a con-monster who once rented their castle in Transylvania and went around pretending to be Dracula himself. It isn't quite clear what Draculaura means by this, as there are many "Draculas" (the usual Dracula, Orlok, or Alucard, for instance) who could be the fake she writes about. Since the subject of the fake Dracula comes up in an age-related matter, it seems the section is meant to refer to a Vlad III-interpretation of Dracula, who was born in 1431 and would thus be younger than Draculaura herself, but this can't be taken for certain. Perhaps unintended, the matter of the fake Dracula also brings up doubt about the Monster High canonicity of many other Dracula-related vampires, primarily the Sisters.
Draculaura is known to have cousins living in Transylvania, where she herself lived until she and Dracula had to flee the region in the 17th century. For her to have cousins, Dracula is to have siblings. There are no canonically confirmed siblings to Dracula in any significant medium, but it is not impossible that Monster High interprets the Sisters as siblings of Dracula.
In the Universal version of Dracula, which is the version most influential to Monster High, Dracula has a daughter and possibly a son. Neither of these exist in the Monster High universe, in which Draculaura is an only-child. She also does not appear to have been designed with the aforementioned daughter, Marya Zaleska, in mind. The two both enjoy painting, but this is only a minor detail of Draculaura's character and appears a coincidence sooner than anything more significant.
The vampire sisters Rose and Blanche Van Sangre are identified as Romani vampires. The Romani people have a history of being associated with vampires in East Europe, where vampirism was seen as something to befall deviating individuals, which Romani were automatically considered to be. In West Europe, it is Dracula that established the association, as his bodyguards on his way back to Transylvania are identified as Romani. They are human though and not confirmed to know they are working for a vampire, though the themes of xenophobia in the novel do aim for an interpretation of 'fellow evil beings'. Rose and Blanche Van Sangre play into this association.
- Mattel has trademarks standing for Bram Devein, Elissabat, and Veronica Von Vamp. Bram's trademark dates from around the premier of "Fright On!", though has yet to be used. Elissabat and Veronica presumably are upcoming Monster High characters, and both have names sounding like they are going to be vampires.
- Both John Polidori's The Vampyre and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus are based on a reading of the 1812 horror story collection Fantasmagoriana in the summer of 1816 at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva in Switzerland.
- The Twilight book and movie series has been referenced in the cartoon series with the TwiHard series, which has been mentioned in "Shock and Awesome" and "Fright On!".
- The Monster High monster hunter family the Van Hellscreams is based on post-novel interpretations of Dracula's Abraham Van Helsing.
- ↑ Facebook entry of June 12, 2011
- ↑ Clawdeen Wolf's Dawn of the Dance diary
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Fright On!"
- ↑ "Hyde and Shriek"
- ↑ "Monster Mashionals Part 2"
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Draculaura's Sweet 1600 Q & A
- ↑ "The Good, the Bat and the Fabulous"
- ↑ "Why Do Ghouls Fall in Love?"
- ↑ The actual word used for the Van Sangre sisters is "g*psy", but since this is an ethnic slur, the Monster High Wiki opts to refer to them as Romani