Can you guess what Count von Count, Alucard, Dracula, Lestat de Lioncourt, Louis de Pointe du Lac, and Khayman have in common? Yes, that’s right — they all have funny names. But that’s not all. It so happens they’re all vampires too.
Except for Count von Count who loves to teach kids how to count, vampires are notoriously brutal. There’s no shortage of movies and novels that depict just how vampires just love to kill people and drink their blood.
Vampires in pop culture
The first true vampire movie was released in 1922 titled Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror. It was an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 vampire novel, Dracula. The silent movie was such a classic, the Nosferatu character often appears in today’s memes.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a big hit when it hit the TV screen in 1997 through its final season in 2003. Then there was the movie Underworld (2003) which tells the story of a female vampire warrior, Selene, and the intricate conflict between vampires, werewolves, and humans.
Don’t forget about the shining and glittering vampire in the Twilight saga started in 2008. Although parents generally hated the movies and claimed that Bella Swan was such a terrible role model, the saga still garnered huge fan bases.
There hasn’t been any good vampire movie these days. But that may change soon. The Invisible Man’s recent success means Universal Pictures’ Dark Universe isn’t dead yet. We may see a more exciting take on vampires in near future.
Vampire legends and folklore
When Bram Stoker wrote the story of Count Dracula, many people suspected he based the character off Vlad the Dracula a.k.a Vlad the Impaler. Vlad was a ruthless ruler of Romania from 1456-1462. He has a cruel habit of impaling his enemies on wooden stakes.
The vampire of popular culture, however, differs greatly with the ones in the legends and folklore. In the legends, vampires were corpses that left their grave at night to drink the blood of the living using their sharp and pointed teeth. There was no mention of their ability to transform into bats or any tendency to dwell in old castles.
The first vampire
Just like many legends and myths, the story of vampires has some basis in reality. The first vampire which resembled the portrayal in movies and comics was most likely a person suffering from a blood disorder called Porphyria.
A person with Porphyria has the following symptoms:
* sensitive to sunlight
* exposed teeth due to receding gums
* acute pain from sulfur content as found in garlic
Since the blood disorder was prevalent in the royalty of Eastern Europe a millennia ago, the first-ever vampire was most likely came from a royal family and lived in a mansion or castle. You can see how those symptoms and prevalence lead to the stereotypical depiction of vampires in pop culture.
Unfortunately, even modern medicine has no cure for Porphyria. The treatment mostly deals with reducing pain and avoiding acute attacks. At least, we now know what causes the disorder so we can avoid shunning those suffering from it.