Where Did The Idea Of Vampires Come From? A Sucky Investigation

Vampires are one of the greatest monster movie villains of all time. Perhaps it’s due to our fascination with folklore and edgy aesthetics that vampires have been a common character across all media. Be it movies, novels, video games, or even fashion, the “vampire myth” has inspired many.

‘Vampire’ derives its name from 11th-century Slavic folklore – called “Wurdulac”, or “Upir” in Russian. The name started as a misinterpretation of diseases such as rabies and things like decomposition. These could also cause a corpse to start oozing blood from the mouth and led to the assumption that the corpse had been alive and feeding.

Vampirism remained a Slavic local phenomenon until the 18th century when the Ottomans and the Monarchy waged war in Europe. During this war, the soldiers and government officials took note of the strange burial rituals, such as the endless tombstones covered in garlic.

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These stories would spawn some of the earliest texts in vampire literature, like 1819’s The Vampire by John William Polidori and Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu in 1872.

Bram Stoker would eventually use the two as inspiration to release the iconic Dracula novel in 1897. His text would spread the myth of vampires all over the world and forever change the Halloween costume industry.

After failing to get the rights for the book, a film studio in Germany instead made Nosferatu, a blatant rip-off of the novel. It was so obvious that the studio was sued into bankruptcy over the overt plagiarism.

To prevent future plagiarism, Stoker’s widow hired Hamilton Deane to create a stage adaptation of Dracula. The play starred Bela Lugosi as the titular Dracula and went on to be a massive success on Broadway. Lugosi would later star in a 1931 direct film adaptation of the stage performance.

Since then, Dracula, and by extension, vampires in all their gloomy glory, have been significant cultural mainstays in pop culture. Now there are countless different interpretations on screen, in books and in video games.

Some movies have been fascinated with taking vampires out of the castle and bringing them to modern times.

30 Days Of Night, for example, is a film from 2007 about an Alaskan town experiencing a 30-day-long blackout of the sun. During this month of darkness, the residents of the town have to survive against a group of coordinated vampires on the hunt to wipe out the entire townsfolk. Other great vampire flicks also love to lean on the pathogen and feral side of vampires. Especially films like The Lost Boys, a quirky grunge-inspired story of a family getting sucked into the life of vampire hunting. These films tend to lean into the action-comedy genre, but still capture what people love about vampires.

Video games also have a deep symbiotic relationship with vampires. Not only has the medium been great at expanding on vampire mythology and offering different interpretations, but vampires have also pushed video games to innovate themselves as well.

Take Castlevania for example. Ever since the first game came out in 1986, the series has grown to be one of the most celebrated and influential franchises in gaming (even scoring a neat Netflix series as well).

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Or Vampire The Masquerade – Bloodlines, a game that gained its massive cult following thanks to how in-depth its roleplaying mechanics were. The game was one of the first that let you fully roleplay as a sexy vampire in a seedy world of vampire families waging war on each other.

A more recent example of a great vampire game is Bethesda’s Skyrim and the Dawnguard expansion. In it, you got to play as either a crossbow-wielding vampire hunter or as a super metal-looking vampire. You even got your own coffin bed which I thought was really cute.

Image: Skyrim

Bethesda is actually releasing a brand new game completely dedicated to hunting vampires. Redfall is a brand new first-person shooter and online co-op game coming out on 2nd May this year. In the game you get to play as vampire hunters by yourself or with your pals, tracking down and killing all sorts of unique vampires in a suburban island town.

Does that sound a bit like The Lost Boys and 30 Days of Night? That’s because Redfall is paying homage to the greatest of vampire media throughout the years.

The game was developed by Arkane Austin, which also made Prey and Dishonored. I’m a huge fan of their games, as they’re very easy to pick up and the stories are always great to play through.

You and a group of friends play as a diverse roster of quirky characters that will help keep you company while you check the attics of houses for horrifying vampires.

Redfall’s vampires aren’t the typical Dracula type of vampires as well. These vampires are scientific experiments that went horribly wrong, evolving constantly into more grotesque and bloodthirsty beings.

Take The Angler, for example. This devious vampire will single you out and drag you away from your teammates if you’re not careful. The Angler definitely stands out thanks to its iconic blood-red hair and bright yellow eyes.

But it’s not only grotesque vampires you have to worry about, you’ll also face off against human cultists who worship the vampires, praying to join their ranks like every fanfiction writer on Wattpad in 2014.

If you’d like to suss out more details on Redfall, click here.

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