The modern day term "vampire" most likely derived from Slavic origins. The Serbian word "vampir" was incorporated into the German language, then to the French as "vampyre" and finally into the English "vampire." These undead horrors have various abilities and powers depending on folklore and place of origin; literature and cinema have also had a lot of influence on the vampire image. According to Eastern European folklore, the dead become vampires because demons or evil spirits enter the bodies. Vampires are also said to be dead werewolves, witches, criminals, suicides, and heretics: persons whose beliefs are contrary to the church doctrine. Again, sources vary, but a victim of the vampire's bite typically rises again as a vampire after dying.
Vampires often possess higher physical strength, dexterity and sharper senses than their mortal prey. Some may have the ability to take the form of a bat, wolf, rat or mist/smoke. The vampire can influence some animals - typically wolves, bats and rats. They can scale vertical surfaces and can use an uncanny hold on a victim through their mesmeric gaze. If a vampire has a masterly hold on a human victim, it may be using said victim over a period time as a constant source of nourishment.
Weaknesses include silver and sometimes iron which will cause the vampire pain. Similarly in some traditions, the wood of the hawthorn tree, which has Biblical roots, will also harm a vampire. Holy religious symbols can be used to hold the creatures at bay. Vampires also seem intolerant to garlic. Vampires, being nocturnal beasts, cannot function in sunlight; indeed, exposure is fatal in most folklore and adaptations. Some vampires cannot cross running water, and most can only enter a property if personally invited inside.
Burying a victim face down or placing poppy seeds in the grave of the deceased will, according to legend, prevent the resulting vampire from rising.
If nosferatu can be tracked down to its lair, generally the place they where buried - a tomb, grave, mausoleum, or even family estate - they can be disposed of traditionally with a wooden stake through the heart. Severing the head will assure destruction.
Scott Snyder's and Rafael Albuquerque's creator-owned American Vampire franchise is built upon the concept that there are several breeds of vampire. These breeds emerge when the curse of vampirism comes to new peoples and new lands. Every breed is different, possessing its own abilities and weaknesses. In the late 19th century, the first of the American breed of vampire arises in the west. This new type of vampire is stronger than most others and is even strengthened by the sun, but it becomes very weak on moonless nights and can be killed by gold.
The Carpathian species of vampire coincides the most with the traditional view of vampires with their almost human appearance, extreme weakness to sunlight and vulnerability to a wooden stake to the heart. They are the most numerous and dominant species, and they take measures to either suppress or wipe out the others.
There are many other species. The Gaelic vampire, which transforms into a large werebat creature, is almost extinct. It is resistant to sunlight and can only be killed by brass. A species found only on a small Southeast Asian island infects by bite alone and turns a person within minutes into a monstrous and completely feral vampire. Other lesser known vampire breeds are:
- Asiatic - An old bloodline, has pure black eyes and longer fangs on the lower jaw than the upper.
- Balkan - Related to the Carpathians but with slight cosmetic differences.
- Bavarian - Similar in looks to the classic Nosferatu. Very resistant to to sunlight.
- Sahran - A very old species that is immune to sunlight.
- Caspian - Has a larger mouth than other breeds.
- Iberian - Immune or resistant to sunlight.
- The Ancients AKA Vampyr - Primordial vampires that are the oldest of all known species. They are giant in stature and have become like living statues over time. The Carpathians have been waging a secret war on them in the hope to kill them all before they wake.
The Real Ghostbusters
Vampires are one of the few supernatural beings who, apart from fangs, look mostly human in appearance. Much like other supernatural beings, they can exist for centuries but are dependent on a regular supply of blood to stop the aging process. They can transform into bats and convert humans into new vampires by biting them. They are also allergic to sunlight, garlic, and holy items. Vampires may need an invitation to enter a home. The Ghostbusters' first encounter with vampires involved a vampire civil war in the isolated town of Lupusville.
Count Vostok, believed he was the last vampire, and later hired the Ghostbusters to deal with a supernatural problem plaguing him.
While investigating Barrow Wights, Ray Stantz stated vampires need permission to enter a house.
- Gregor - A vampire that assumed control of the town, Lupusville.
- Gregor's Rival (never given a name) - Leader of a group of vampires who were at war with Gregor and his group.
- Count Vostok - Unlike most vampires, he was kind and understanding. In order to satiate his natural vampiric need for blood, he drinks artificial blood, which is fortunately just as nutritional to vampires as real blood.
- Count Von Blukenporken - A vampire in ghost form, he attempted to re-corporealize himself by feeding on the Ectoplasm of ghosts.
Legacy of Kain
Vampires were, alongside the humans and the Hylden, one of the three sapient races dominant in Nosgoth. Though the original, Ancient Vampires were a species in their own right, the term "vampire" eventually came to refer to any individual afflicted with the blood curse, irrespective of birth. Vampirism comprised an extremely eclectic heritage which spanned many generations and sub-races across history, but with common traits: usually, vampires needed to consume blood regularly to survive, were immortal and sterile, were vulnerable to water and sunlight, developed individual abilities and dark gifts, and would drastically evolve over time.
Under this definition, the first vampires emerged as a consequence of the Vampire-Hylden war, when the Hylden unleashed the blood curse against their adversaries as retribution for their banishment. Before their extinction, these ancient vampires passed the curse on to humans, who carried on their lineage. Over the eras, under the leadership of ancient patriarchs such as Janos Audron, Vorador, and Kain, vampire culture alternated from that of feared and widely-hunted outcasts to that of Nosgoth's apex predators.
- Janos Audron - An Ancient Vampire, presumably born at some point in the millennium long Vampire-Hylden war.
- Vorador - The first human turned into a vampire in Nosgoth.
- Kain - Born a human who was killed and ended up in the Underworld. He was offered a chance for revenge by a necromancer, Mortanius, and, desperate and not thinking, Kain accepted, being revived as a vampire.
- Umah - A member of the Cabal, acting as both a guide and a friend to Kain. She was killed by Kain when she betrayed him.
- Raziel - Born a human who was turned into a vampire for a millennium after his death and was reborn as a wraith.
In the continuity of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, vampires are undead beings whose souls have been replaced with demons. These demons share all of the same memories as the original living being and essentially become a conscienceless, murderous version of that person. They are capable of transforming themselves back and forth from a human appearance and their vampire form, which includes a mouth full of fangs, yellow eyes and facial ridges. Exceptionally old vampires like the Master lose this ability and appear always with more demonic vampire features.
Vampires in this continuity have super-strength, speed, stamina, agility, reflexes, acute sensory perception, rapid healing, and immortality. Some vampires display other psychic abilities. They possess all of the traditional weaknesses of vampires, including wooden stakes to the heart, holy symbols, sunlight, fire and decapitation. Upon death, their bodies immediately deteriorate into dust. Conventional things like bullets will not kill them but will hurt them for a time until they heal from the injuries at an accelerated rate.
The method of turning someone into a vampire involves draining them of their own blood and feeding them the blood of a vampire. The person will then die and rise later as a vampire.
It's Never the End for the Eternal Romance Vampires, who seek their soul-mates but often experience dating horror stories instead. The first issue of Eternal Romance (Best Destiny, 1997) promises Love! Heartache! Vampires! and introduces Destine, a love-challenged energy vampire who serves as narrator to a trio of campy, emotionally vampiric tales presented in the style of 50s and 60s romance comics. Later in the series, Destine becomes a protagonist and, to the chagrin of her wise-cracking cat Ankh, becomes involved in her own romantic misadventures. Destine also possesses some magical powers, has a bizarre fashion sense and makes very poor choices in men (including Vampire suitors Alain Sangfroid and her maker, Cliff).
In "The Night Student," (Eternal Romance #1), teacher Katrina March lectures on Bram Stoker's Dracula and what is generally known about Vampires: abnormal strength; fangs; drinking blood; aversion to mirrors; the Crucifix, garlic and daylight; plus transformation into animals or mist.
Vampires in the Marvel Universe typically have enhanced strength, speed, and regenerative abilities. Their weaknesses vary from writer to writer, but generally sunlight and decapitation are the constant methods of killing a vampire. These vampires also seem to be able to shift from a human (albeit pale) form to a demonic form (with red eyes, fangs, claws, and change in skin color). Vampirism in this comic universe is most often perceived like an infection and sometimes able to be cured via magic or particularly strong willpower.
Though different tribes of vampires appeared sporadically throughout the years, the issue Death of Dracula revealed that the different species of vampires are organized into sects and every hundred years the sects converge under the leadership of Dracula for a conference on an ancient Greek island discovered following the sinking of Atlantis. The sects attending the most recent gathering are the Krieger, Claw, Charniputra, Mystikos, Anchorite, Pureblood, Tryk, Nosferatu, Atlantean, Moksha, and Siren Sects.
The sects absent from the gathering are: the Adze of Guyana, Africa, who do not succumb to the normally fatal weaknesses of a vampire until 10 minutes afterwards; the Ancients of Italy, who possess superior speed and healing; and the Yiki Onna of Japan, who can transform into razor-sharp clouds of ice instead of mist.
The True Blood Vampires in the Comics and the Television Series are based on the vampires native to the Sookie Stackhouse Novels, The Southern Vampire Mysteries. They have strength, speed, and regenerative abilities, but are vulnerable to sunlight, silver, decapitation, and wooden stakes to the heart. The are also rendered completely inert during the daylight hours (except for the most ancient vampires).
Each vampire can glamour (mesmerize) humans and also develops a particular gift (such as flight, hovering, telepathic communication, and extra sensory ability). The blood of these vampires, called "V", can temporarily bestow peak human physical abilities to humans.