(c) Brandon Skanes
Welcome to themodernistson.com, a place where we talk about video games, creepy tales, and the things that go bump in the night. On August 9, 2021, we celebrate the first anniversary of this brand. So, if you haven't yet... why not #subscribe?
Since this is a post focused on our first anniversary, it's important to discuss something we've never written about in the past. Before diving into this topic, I would like to mention my friend and fellow author, S.B. Hammock. Her first book The Blood of Willows (2021) is available through Amazon, with a focus on vampires and the supernatural.
"The Blood of Willows follows Gellar Walker, a spitfire and one of the best police detectives in Georgia. The story begins with Gellar waiting at a bus stop late at night only to be met by a mysterious stranger. Cue Foster Ryan, a vampire that informs Gellar she is his assignment and explains that his goal is to have her go back with him to Eggoria, an underground world created for vampires to exist in peace. Gellar is soon faced with a missing person case that hits too close to home and begins a journey filled with unlikely allies, tri-breeds and unexpected romance. A journey that will not only teach Gellar about life...but about herself."
What are Vampires? (Looking at Origins):
Despite vampires being fictional creatures, some people actually believe they exist. Moreover, there's always the concept of "what if?" when it comes to the supernatural. Similarly, the cryptid creature known as "El Chupacabra" caught the attention of people living in Mexico, as well as the United States. This was back in the 1990s, and the Chupacabra (if it exists) attracted the attention of many farmers, as they couldn't explain why their livestock had been mutilated. Since the pre-industrial era, the concept of vampirism has certainly changed as time progresses.
Although I would imagine not all of them are evil, vampires are mythological creatures said to roam the world at night while most people are sleeping. With respect to literary tropes, vampires are unable to survive in sunlight. Of course, the issue of death in sunlight is a common trope- but it's not always accurate. With that in mind, it's important to understand that folklore is not final and can change at anytime.
In terms of vampire lore, it's important we at least acknowledge the Twilight franchise. Although the films are hit and miss, the novels from American author Stephanie Meyer are excellent. 2005's Twilight (the novel) introduces an alternate approach to the relationship between vampires and sunlight: they shine as bright as diamonds. However, in most cases, vampires are reduced to ashes and dust once they wander outside during the day.
"Vlad the Impaler" lived during the 15th century, and enjoyed his reign of terror from 1448 (with a break in between), until his death around 1477. Vlad the Impaler was known for his malice, as well as his brutality. According to some historians, this man often decapitated those who dared cross his path. Interestingly, Bram Stoker sought inspiration from this historical figure for his 1897 Gothic novel, Dracula.
With respect to the concept of vampirism, these legends have existed for centuries. Vampires were first discussed in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, around parts of Eastern Europe.
The "vampire panic" started around the 1700s, and 1800s. According to historians, this group of men are disposing of a "vampire's" body, somewhere in Romania. Around this time, people in the United States were also exhuming bodies from graves to see if the deceased were actually vampires. If the accusations were true, the idea was the bodies would not decompose.
With respect to vampire lore, a vampire's only means of survival is feeding off human blood. When examining European folklore, vampires often return to the area they lived while still alive, causing disturbances in those specific locations.
By the 1700s, there was mass-hysteria in Eastern Europe. There was a pre-existing belief in Balkan cultures, which involved people returning from the dead to feed off the living. With this factor, locals would drive a stake through the chest of those already dead, while the living were accused of vampirism as well.
1966's Dracula: Prince of Darkness depicts the issue of the "stake through the heart" as a form of eliminating vampires. As the concept of vampire lore has evolved, "decapitation" is also an effective method.
In the modern world, the vampire is generally believed to be fictional. However, there was a rather specific reason for belief in vampirism by the 1700s. Unfortunately, people living in Europe during the 1700s had a poor understanding of how body decomposition works. More specifically, people didn't quite understand death the way we do now.
As a means of explaining this, pre-industrial societies believed the dead would come back to life, or the figure of the vampire was a means of understanding what happens after death.
Since the 1800s, the vampire has gained a more "sophisticated" depiction. By 1819 (coincidentally, this was the first time the term "zombi" was used by poet Robert Southey), English writer John Polidori published the short story "The Vampyre". Of course, this story was highly successful and paved the way for the vampire in fiction and literature.
Thank you, and let us know your thoughts!
The Modernist Son, 2020-2021.
Nick Lane. "Born to the Purple: the Story of Porphyria." Scientific American. New York City. 2002.
Alain Silver James Ursini. "The Vampire Film From Nosferatu to Interview with the Vampire." Limelight Editions. 1997.