What’s so special about vampires? One has to wonder, why are they so popular with so many people? If you try to break down the reasons for their popularity with the general populace, what would it be? Let’s look at their history and the evolution to the modern-day versions that we know of today and try to answer these questions.


According to National Geographic, the origins of vampire legends lie during the Middle Ages in Europe. A lack of understanding of the science behind body decomposition (after death) led to many misconceptions and superstitions, the most notorious being; Vampires. 

“As a corpse’s skin shrinks, its teeth and fingernails can appear to have grown longer. And as internal organs break down, a dark “purge fluid” can leak out of the nose and mouth.”

National Geographic

That’s normal post-mortem decay and it pretty much makes sense for people to not have known all of it during the Middle Ages. However, what doesn’t make sense is what was the motivation behind exhuming corpses of dead people? It’s gross and weird and unthinkable. Maybe this is how it happened: 

You are a powerful & influential person living a happy life in a small village/ town. Suddenly, this winter, disaster strikes, and you suffer a grave tragedy; your crops are burnt/ some infectious disease struck your family/ drought dried-up your crops and those of many others in the village. You are dismal, angry and looking for revenge. Coincidentally, your rival’s father had just passed away a month ago, before misfortune befell you. You put the two together, blame your rival’s father for all the misdeeds, make the town agree for an exhuming, find his corpse barely decomposed, with all the teeth and fingernail grown longer and with blood (purge fluid) leaking out of his mouth & you scream triumphantly – VAMPIRE!!!

It’s entirely possible, that the first European Vampires had such random origins. To a well-read individual residing 600-700 years ago during the Middle Ages, it was an easy escape and the simplest answer to ‘Why did this happen to me?’

Well-read? You wonder why I said well-read?

That’s because it’s entirely possible that the legends of vampires originated much before that; there’s a similar creature in the Egyptian mythology, there’s the Chinese jiangshee (pronounced chong-shee) amongst others. But there’s an even older version of the vampire, more than 2500 years older atleast – Vetaal, the Indian edition of the Vampire.  

The upside down hanging Vetaal & King Vikram in the background

As per legends, Vetaal was a vampire who was highly intelligent, well-informed & well-read and could be found hanging upside down (like a bat?) on a tree near charnel grounds (place where dead bodies are cremated). A tantrik (black-magic practitioner) managed to trick the good & just King Vikramaditya into helping him kill Vetaal the Vampire. The King was just supposed to bring Vetaal to the place where the tantrik was performing the necessary rituals required to kill Vetaal. Every time King Vikram tried to carry Vetaal to the place of the ritual, Vetaal would tell Vikram different stories and ask questions related to them. The King, also being quite knowledgeable and known for his justice, would give the correct answers to all his questions at which Vetaal would fly back to his tree. The stories make for highly interesting reading and are quite famous in India and are published in a book called – Betaal Pachisi. I will share some of the best stories from them later in the week.


One of the main reasons that vampires are so popular is because of the rich lore and various legends associated with them. Or is it that because they are popular there is such a rich lore getting created around them? 

Vampires had enjoyed extreme popularity for quite a long time in India, thanks to Vetaal. Vetaal was the first to inform the world about the undead nature of vampires. He must’ve also been a source of inspiration for the “transform-into-a-bat” ability of vampires. However, his popularity completely overshadowed that of the entire race of vampires and maybe that’s why the vampire legends must’ve died down in India over time. Everyone remembers Vetaal and his stories, but nobody remembers vampires much. 

However, at some point, the Egyptians and the Chinese must’ve realized on the potential of the vampire legends and tried to come up with their own editions. But they both failed miserably. In the case of the Egyptian version of vampires, Mummy-zombies might’ve felt threatened by their popularity, making them a victim of power-abuse and nepotism. No points for guessing what happened to the Chinese vampires? Don’t you know what the Chinese do with bats?? Poor vampires must’ve run off with their tails between their legs!

So, naturally there was no place else for them to go to, but Europe. Remember, the New World was not yet discovered at that time. They found a safe haven in Europe and settled in for the long run across the continent. They were doing fairly well establishing their base when along came Vlad Dracula the Wallachian ruler; poor guy who just wanted to protect his country from the marauding Turks. Umm… okay, dipping his bread in the blood of his captives killed on his dining table and all that business of impaling people with a wooden stake through the heart; might’ve been a tad bit overboard, but in the end it turned out to be pure genius. Drinking blood of their victims, driving a wooden stake through their hearts to kill them – vampires had gained new characteristics forever along with a lot of free publicity.

Such an innocent looking fellow, who would’ve thought?

And as soon as interest in them was beginning to wane out after a long period of silence, Bram Stoker happened. Or maybe someone from the inside made it happen. 

In either case, Bram managed to make Vampires highly massively popular again and they were mighty thankful about it. They must’ve been reminded of the good old days in India. 


Count Dracula gave even newer characteristics – defining Vampires in a new light, giving them a structured outline and fixed characteristics. Bram Stoker’s vampire slept in a coffin, was afraid of the sunlight & the cross, sucked blood, could transform into a bat/ wolf and could be killed with a stake through the heart. It was a cumulative summation of all the different versions before and some more. However, the vampires must’ve soon realized it was going to be another case of individual popularity more than collective and hence they must’ve moved on. 

That’s when they must’ve set sail across the Atlantic and would’ve reached America – the New World. America, quite lacking in the department of myths & legends of their own, welcomed them with open arms and quickly absorbed them. They even came up with an Arch-nemesis of Vampires – the Werewolf. Nothing spices up a story more than rivalry and thus the Vampires thrived in America. Things went well after that for vampires as they strongly embedded themselves in American culture, living the American dream, getting into Hollywood, getting their own movies and TV series. Just when things were going steady for them, in the 21st century, someone from the vampire asylum, probably an old hag, must’ve escaped and caught hold of the poor girl Stephanie resulting in the cringe-worthy (or masterful as some feel) piece of work – the Twilight series. Even though the vampires’ popularity went up manifold after it, I’m sure they couldn’t have approved because of the amount of ridicule they had to face for it.

Sparkling in the sunlight, drinking blood from blood bags, pathetic teen romances, crying and trying to commit suicide for a human! Bollocks – she might as well have made them wear pom-poms and dance on the streets. However, there must’ve been a rift in the vampire society and many of the younger generation might’ve embraced the good things (I wonder what good things) from the series leading to the making of the films of the same series with all the constipated-looking actors in the leading roles. 

Voldy’s reaction is priceless!

The older generation must’ve been quite desperate after that, going back to England and taking the help of the solo player Count Dracula along with BBC. It was as if they wanted to erase the American chapter entirely out of their history – even willing to spill and share inside information, delving into the Vampire psyche. 

Just when it seemed to work out, people’s interest restored in them, a bigger monster took over. The Vampire society had to call out an emergency meeting of the entire horror community to tackle their newest member and biggest rival – Corona. For quite a long time they had fought amongst themselves to claim the top spot for being the most feared horror. However, none came close to this new kid on the block – Corona. They must work together to eliminate this new threat before it overshadowed them all. And that it came from bats was a different cause for worry for all the vampires.


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