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Vampires (sometimes vampyres) are mythological or folkloric creatures believed to be the re-animated corpses of human beings who subsist on human or animal blood. In folklore, the term usually refers to the blood-sucking humans of Eastern European legends, but it is often extended to cover similar legendary creatures from other regions and cultures. The characteristics of vampires vary widely between these different traditions. Some cultures also have stories of non-human vampires, including real animals such as bats, dogs, and spiders, and mythical creatures such as the chupacabra.
Vampires are a frequent subject of fictional books and films, although fictional vampires are often attributed traits distinct from those of folkloric vampires.
The term vampire is also used to refer to mythical or fictional creatures that act as predatory parasites, draining power, energy, or life from unwilling victims. Creatures who act in this manner are often considered part of the vampire archetype, even if they do not consume blood.
Vampirism is the practice of drinking blood from a person or animal. In folklore and popular culture, the term refers to a belief that one can gain supernatural powers by drinking human blood. The historical practice of vampirism can generally be considered a more specific and less commonly occurring form of cannibalism. The consumption of another's blood (or flesh) has been used as a tactic of psychological warfare intended to terrorize the enemy, and can be used to reflect various spiritual beliefs.
In zoology and botany, the term vampirism is used in reference to leeches, mosquitos, mistletoe, vampire bats, and other organisms that subsist on the bodily fluids of others.
The English word vampire was borrowed (perhaps via French vampyre) from German Vampir, in turn borrowed in early 18th century[1] from Serbian вампир/vampir,[1][2][3][4] or, according to some sources, from Hungarian v�mp�r.[5][6] The Serbian and Hungarian forms have some parallels in some Slavic languages. The Bosnian Lampir which was the name of the oldest recorded vampire Meho Lampir.[citation needed]: Bulgarian вампир (vampir), Macedonian вампир (vampir), вапир (vapir) Polish wąpierz or въпир (vəpir), Czech. Previous links with the Slovak up�r, and (perhaps East Slavic-influenced) upi�r, Russian упырь (upyr' ), Belarussian упiр (upyr), Ukrainian упирь (upir' ), from Old Russian упирь (upir' ) the etymology remains uncertain.[7] Among the proposed proto-Slavic forms are *ǫpyrь and *ǫpirь.[8] The Slavic word might, like its possible Russian cognate netopyr' ("bat"), come from the Proto-Indo-European root for "to fly".[8] Earlier theories had it that the Slavic word comes from a Turkic word denoting an evil supernatural entity (cf. Kazan Tatar ubyr "witch").[9][6] This theory has since been proved obsolete.[8]. The first recorded use of the word 'Vampire' was from Austrian-controlled Serbia in reports prepared by Austrian police officials between 1725 and 1732 investigating reports of a citizen arising from the dead to attack villagers. The original term Upir', from whence "vampire" was derived, is found for the first time in written form in 1047 A.D. in a letter written by a Novgorodian Eastern Orthodox Christian priest to then-Prince Vladimir (later, Vladimir II) referring to himself as поп Упир Лихый (Father Upir' Likhyj). This can be read online in the original Russian [10]. The meaning of both words is still strongly in dispute.
Vampire analogies in ancient cultures
Tales of the dead craving blood are found in nearly every culture around the world,[11] including some of the most ancient ones. Vampire-like spirits called the Lilu are mentioned in early Babylonian demonology, and the bloodsucking Akhkharu even earlier in the Sumerian mythology. These female demons were said to roam during the hours of darkness, hunting and killing newborn babies and pregnant women. One of these demons, named Lilitu, was later adapted into Jewish demonology as Lilith.

The vetala, like the bat, is associated with hanging upside down on trees found in cremation grounds and cemeteries
In India, tales of the Vetalas, ghoul-like beings that inhabit corpses, are found in old Sanskrit folklore. A prominent story tells of King Vikramāditya and his nightly quests to capture an elusive Vetala. The stories of the Vetala have been compiled in the book Baital Pachisi. The vetala is an undead, who like the bat associated with modern day vampire, is associated with hanging upside down on trees found in cremation grounds and cemeteries.
The hopping corpse is an equivalent of the vampire in Chinese tradition; however, it consumes the victim's life essence (q�) rather than blood.
The Ancient Egyptian goddess Sekhmet in one myth became full of bloodlust after slaughtering humans and was only sated after drinking alcohol colored as blood.
The strix, a nocturnal bird that fed on human flesh and blood is mentioned in Roman tales. The Romanian word for vampires, strigoi, is derived from the word, and so is the name of the Albanian Shtriga, but the myths about those creatures show mainly Slavic influence. [citation needed]
As an example of the existence and prominence of similar legends at later times, it can be noted that 12th century English historians and chroniclers Walter Map and William of Newburgh recorded accounts of revenants that arguably bear some resemblance to East European vampires.
The vampire myth as we know it is most strongly rooted in East European and above all Slavic folklore (dealt with more thoroughly in the next section), where vampires were revenants accused of killing people, often by drinking blood, but also by throttling, or sitting on them and preventing breathing. A vampire could be destroyed by cutting off its head, by driving a wooden stake into its heart, or by burning the corpse.
Folk beliefs in vampires
It seems that until the 19th century, vampires in Europe were thought to be hideous monsters from the grave. They were usually believed to rise from the bodies of suicide victims, criminals, or evil sorcerers, though in some cases an initial vampire thus "born of sin" could pass his vampirism onto his innocent victims. In other cases, however, a victim of a cruel, untimely, or violent death was susceptible to becoming a vampire. Most of Romanian vampire folk beliefs (except Strigoi) and European vampire stories have Slavic origins.

Slavic vampires
In Slavic beliefs, causes of vampirism included being born with a caul, teeth, or tail, being conceived on certain days, "irregular" death, excommunication, and improper burial rituals. Preventive measures included placing a crucifix in the coffin, placing blocks under the chin to prevent the body from eating the shroud, nailing clothes to coffin walls for the same reason, putting sawdust in the coffin (the vampire awakens in the evening and must count each grain of sawdust, which takes up the entire evening, so he will die when at dawn) or piercing the body with thorns or stakes. In the case of stakes, the general idea was to pierce through the vampire and into the ground below, pinning the body down. Certain people would bury those believed to be potential vampires with scythes above their necks, so the dead would decapitate themselves as they rose.
Evidence that a vampire was at work in the neighbourhood included death of cattle, sheep, relatives, or neighbours, an exhumed body being in a lifelike state with new growth of the fingernails or hair, a body swelled up like a drum, or blood on the mouth coupled with a ruddy complexion.
Vampires, like other Slavic legendary monsters, were afraid of garlic and liked counting grain, sawdust, etc. Vampires could be destroyed by staking, decapitation (the Kashubs placed the head between the feet), burning, repeating the funeral service, sprinkling holy water on the body, or exorcism.
The most famous Serbian vampire was Sava Savanovic, famous from a folklore-inspired novel of Milovan Glišić.[12]
In the Old Russian anti-pagan work Word of Saint Grigoriy (written in the 11th-12th century), it is claimed that polytheistic Russians made sacrifices to vampires.
Romanian vampires
Tales of vampiric entities were also found among the ancient Romans and the Romanized inhabitants of eastern Europe, Romanians (known as Vlachs in historical context). Romania is surrounded by Slavic countries, so it is not surprising that Romanian and Slavic vampires are similar. Romanian vampires are called Strigoi, based on the ancient Greek term strix for screech owl, which also came to mean demon or witch.
There are different types of Strigoi. LiveStrigoi are live witches who will become vampires after death. They can send out their souls at night to meet with other witches or with Strigoi, which are reanimated bodies that return to suck the blood of family, livestock, and neighbours. Other types of vampires in Romanian folklore include Moroi and Pricolici.
According to Romanian tradition, a myriad of ways are presented as to bringing about a vampire. A person born with a caul, an extra n****e, extra hair, who was born too early, whose mother had a black cat cross her path, who was born with a tail or who was born out of wedlock was doomed to become a vampire; as was one who died an unnatural death, or died before baptism, as was the seventh child in a family (presuming all of his or her previous siblings were of the same sex), as well as the child of a pregnant woman who did not eat salt or who was looked at by a vampire or a witch. Moreover, being bitten by a vampire meant certain condemnation to a vampiric existence after death.
The V�rcolac, which is sometimes mentioned in Romanian folklore, was more closely related to a mythological wolf that could devour the sun and moon (similar to Skoll and Hati in Norse mythology), and later became connected with werewolves rather than vampires. (A person afflicted with lycanthropy could turn into a dog, pig, or wolf.)
The vampire was usually first noticed when it attacked family and livestock, or threw things around in the house. Vampires, along with witches, were believed to be most active on the Eve of St George's Day (April 22 Julian, May 4 Gregorian calendar), the night when all forms of evil were supposed to be abroad. St George's Day is still celebrated in Europe.
A vampire in the grave could be discerned by holes in the earth, an undecomposed corpse with a red face, or having one foot in the corner of the coffin. Living vampires were identified by distributing garlic in church and seeing who did not eat it.
Graves were often opened three years after the death of a child, five years after the death of a young person, or seven years after the death of an adult to check for vampirism.
Measures to prevent a person from becoming a vampire included removing the caul from a newborn and destroying it before the baby could eat any of it, careful preparation of dead bodies, including preventing animals from passing over the corpse, placing a thorny branch of wild rose in the grave, and placing garlic on windows and rubbing it on cattle, especially on St George's and St Andrew's day.
To destroy a vampire, a stake was driven through the body, followed by decapitation and placing garlic in the mouth. By the 19th century, one would also shoot a bullet through the coffin. For resistant cases, the body was dismembered and the pieces burned, mixed with water, and given to family members as a cure.
Roma vampire beliefs
Even today, Roma frequently feature in vampire fiction and film, no doubt influenced by Bram Stoker's book, Dracula, in which the Szgany Roma served Dracula, carrying his boxes of earth and guarding him.
Traditional Romani beliefs include the idea that the dead soul enters a world similar to ours except that there is no death. The soul stays around next to the body and sometimes wants to come back. The Roma legends of the living dead added to and enriched the vampire legends of Hungary, Romania, and Slavic lands.
The ancient home of the Roma, India, has many vampire figures. The Bhut or Pr�t is the soul of a man who died an untimely death. It wanders around animating dead bodies at night and attacks the living like a ghoul. In northern India could be found the BrahmarākŞhasa, a vampire-like creature with a head encircled by intestines and a skull from which it drank blood. Vetala and pishacha are some other creatures who resemble vampires in some form. Since Hinduism believes in reincarnation of the soul after death, it is supposed that upon leading an unholy or immoral life, sin or suicide, the soul reincarnates into such kinds of evil spirits. This kind of reincarnation does not arise out of birth from a womb, etc, but is achieved directly, and such evil spirits' fate is pre-determined as to how they shall achieve liberation from that yoni, and re-enter the world of mortal flesh through next incarnation.
The most famous Indian deity associated with blood drinking is Kali, who has fangs, wears a garland of corpses or skulls and has four arms. Her temples are near the cremation grounds. She and the goddess Durga battled the demon Raktabija who could reproduce himself from each drop of blood spilled. Kali drank all his blood so none was spilled, thereby winning the battle and killing Raktabija.
Sara, or the Black Goddess, is the form in which Kali survived among Roma. Some Roma have a belief that the three Marys from the New Testament went to France and baptised a gypsy called Sara. They still hold a ceremony each May 24 in the French village where this is supposed to have occurred. Some refer to their Black Goddess as "Black Cally" or "Black Kali".
One form of vampire in Romani folklore is called a mullo (one who is dead). This vampire is believed to return and do malicious things and/or suck the blood of a person (usually a relative who had caused their death, or hadn't properly observed the burial ceremonies, or who kept the deceased's possessions instead of destroying them as was proper).
Female vampires could return, lead a normal life and even marry but would exhaust the husband.[13]
Anyone who had a hideous appearance, was missing a finger, or had appendages similar to those of an animal, etc., was believed to be a vampire. If a person died unseen, he would become a vampire; likewise if a corpse swelled before burial. Plants or dogs, cats, or even agricultural tools could become vampires. Pumpkins or melons kept in the house too long would start to move, make noises or show blood. (See the article on vampire watermelons.)
To get rid of a vampire people could hire a Dhampir (the son of a vampire and his widow) or a Moroi to detect the vampire. To ward off vampires, Gypsies drove steel or iron needles into a corpse's heart and placed bits of steel in the mouth, over the eyes, ears and between the fingers at the time of burial. They also placed hawthorn in the corpse's sock or drove a hawthorn stake through the legs. Further measures included driving stakes into the grave, pouring boiling water over it, decapitating the corpse, or burning it.
According to the late Serbian ethnologist Tatomir Vukanović, Roma people in Kosovo believed that vampires were invisible to most people. However, they could be seen "by a twin brother and sister born on a Saturday who wear their drawers and shirts inside out." Likewise, a settlement could be protected from a vampire "by finding a twin brother and sister born on a Saturday and making them wear their shirts and drawers inside out (cf previous section). This pair could see the vampire out of doors at night, but immediately after it saw them it would have to flee, head over heels."
Some common traits of vampires in folklore
It is difficult to make a unified description of the folkloric vampire, because its properties vary widely between different cultures.
� The appearance of the European folkloric vampire contained mostly features by which one was supposed to tell a vampiric corpse from a normal one, when the grave of a suspected vampire was opened. The vampire has a "healthy" appearance and ruddy skin, he is often plump, his nails and hair have grown and, above all, he/she is not in the least decomposed.
� The most usual ways to destroy the vampire are driving a wooden stake through the heart, decapitation, and incinerating the body completely. Ways to prevent a suspected vampire from rising from the grave in the first place include burying it upside-down, severing the tendons at the knees, or placing poppy seeds on the ground at the gravesite of a presumed vampire in order to keep the vampire occupied all night counting. Chinese narratives about vampires also state that if a vampire comes across a sack of rice, s/he will have to count all of the grains. There are similar myths recorded on the Indian Subcontinent. South American tales of witches and other sorts of evil or mischievous spirits or beings have a similar aspect to it.[14]
� Apotropaics, i.e. objects intended to inhibit or ward off vampires (as well as other evil supernatural creatures), include garlic (confined mostly to European legends),sunlight, a branch of wild rose, the hawthorn plant, and all things sacred (e.g., holy water, a crucifix, a rosary, a star of David) or an Aloe vera plant hung backwards behind the door or near it, in South American superstition.[14] This weakness on the part of the vampire varies depending on the tale. In stories of other regions, other plants of holy or mystical properties sometimes have similar effects. In Eastern vampiric legends, vampires are often similarly warded by holy devices such as Shintō seals.[13]
� Vampires are sometimes considered to be shape-shifters not limited to the common bat stereotype put out by cartoons and movies. Rather, a multitude of animals are available such as wolves, rats, moths, spiders and many more.
� Vampires in European folklore are said to cast no shadow and have no reflection. This may be tied to folklore regarding the vampire's lack of a soul.[13]
� Some traditions hold that a vampire cannot enter a house unless he or she is invited in.[13]
� Christian tradition holds that they cannot enter a church or holy place, as they are servants of the devil.
Eighteenth century vampire controversy
During the 18th century there was a major vampire scare in Eastern Europe. Even government officials frequently got dragged into the hunting and staking of vampires.
It all started with an outbreak of alleged "vampire" attacks in East Prussia in 1721 and in the Habsburg Monarchy from 1725 to 1734. Two famous cases (and first to be fully recorded by authorities) involved Peter Plogojowitz and Arnold Paole from Serbia. As the story goes, Plogojowitz died at the age of 62, but came back a couple of times after his death asking his son for food. When the son refused, he was found dead the next day. Soon Plogojowitz returned and attacked some neighbours who died from loss of blood.
In the other famous case, Arnold Paole, an ex-soldier turned farmer who had allegedly been attacked by a vampire years before, died while haying. After his death, people began to die, and it was believed by everyone that Paole had returned to prey on the neighbours.
These two incidents were extremely well documented. Government officials examined the cases and the bodies, wrote them up in reports, and books were published afterwards of the Paole case and distributed around Europe. The controversy raged for a generation. The problem was exacerbated by rural epidemics of so-claimed vampire attacks, with locals digging up bodies. Many scholars said vampires did not exist, and attributed reports to premature burial, or rabies. Nonetheless, Dom Augustine Calmet, a well-respected French theologian and scholar, put together a carefully thought out treatise in 1746, which was at least ambiguous concerning the existence of vampires, if not admitting it explicitly. He amassed reports of vampire incidents and numerous readers, including both a critical Voltaire and supportive demonologists, interpreted the treatise as claiming that vampires exist. According to some recent research, and judging from the second edition of the work in 1751, Calmet was actually somewhat sceptical towards the vampire concept as a whole. He did acknowledge that parts of the reports, such as the preservation of corpses, might be true.[15] Whatever his personal convictions were, Calmet's apparent support for vampire belief had considerable influence on other scholars at the time.
Eventually, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria sent her personal physician, Gerhard van Swieten, to investigate. He concluded that vampires do not exist, and the Empress passed laws prohibiting the opening of graves and desecration of bodies. This was the end of the vampire epidemics. By then, though, many knew about vampires, and soon authors would adopt and adapt the concept of vampire, making it known to the general public.
New England
During the late 18th and 19th centuries the belief in vampires was widespread in parts of New England, particularly in Rhode Island and Eastern Connecticut. In this region there are many documented cases of families disinterring loved ones and removing their hearts in the belief that the deceased was a vampire who was responsible for sickness and death in the family (although the word "vampire" was never used to describe him/her). The deadly tuberculosis, or "consumption" as it was known at the time, was believed to be caused by nightly visitations on the part of a dead family member (who had died of consumption him/herself[16]). The most famous (and latest recorded) case is that of nineteen year old Mercy Brown who died in Exeter, Rhode Island in 1892. Her father, assisted by the family physician, removed her from her tomb two months after her death. Her heart was cut out then burnt to ashes.[17] An account of this incident was found among the papers of Bram Stoker and the story closely resembles the events in his classic novel, Dracula.
[edit] Modern belief in vampires
Belief in vampires persists to this day. While some cultures preserve their original traditions about the immortal, most modern-day believers are more influenced by the fictional image of the vampire as it occurs in films and literature.
In the 1970s, there were rumours (spread by the local press) that a vampire haunted Highgate Cemetery in London. Amateur vampire hunters flocked in large numbers in the cemetery. Several books have been written about the case, notably by Sean Manchester, a local man who was among the first to suggest the existence of the "Highgate Vampire" and who later claimed to have exorcised and destroyed a whole nest of vampires in the area.
In the modern folklore of Puerto Rico and Mexico, the chupacabra (goat-sucker) is said to be a creature that feeds upon the flesh or drinks the blood of domesticated animals, leading some to consider it a kind of vampire. The "chupacabra hysteria" was frequently associated with deep economic and political crises, particularly during the mid-1990s.
During late 2002 and early 2003, hysteria about alleged attacks of vampires swept through the African country of Malawi. Mobs stoned one individual to death and attacked at least four others, including Governor Eric Chiwaya, based on the belief that the government was colluding with vampires.[18]
In Romania during February of 2004, several relatives of the late Toma Petre feared that he had become a vampire. They dug up his corpse, tore out his heart, burned it, and mixed the ashes with water in order to drink it.[19]
In January 2005, rumors began to circulate that an attacker had bitten a number of people in Birmingham, England, fueling concerns about a vampire roaming the streets. However, local police stated that no such crime had been reported. This case appears to be an urban legend.[20]
In 2006, Costas Efthimiou and Sohang Gandhi published a piece that uses geometric progression to attempt to disprove the feeding habits of vampires, stating that, if each vampire's nourishment depended on making even one other person a vampire, it would only be a matter of years before the Earth's entire population was among the undead[21] or vampires died out (compare matrix scheme). However, this notion that a vampire's victims must themselves become vampires does not appear in all vampire folklore, and is not universally accepted by modern vampire believers. This theory also assumes that a single bite turns the victim into a vampire, which is not generally the case in most vampire lore.
Natural phenomena that propagate the belief in vampires
Pathology and vampirism
Folkloric vampirism has typically been associated with a series of deaths due to unindentifiable or mysterious illnesses, usually within the same family or the same small community.[22] The "epidemic pattern" is obvious in the classical cases of Peter Plogojowitz and Arnold Paole, and even more so in the case of Mercy Brown and in the vampire beliefs of New England generally, where a specific disease, tuberculosis, was associated with outbreaks of vampirism (see above).
In his book, De masticatione mortuorum in tumulis (1725), Micha�l Ranft makes a first attempt to explain folk's belief in vampires in a natural way. He says that, in the event of the death of every villager, some other person or people - much probably a person related to the first dead - who saw or touched the corpse, would eventually die either of some disease related to exposure to the corpse or of a frenetic delirium caused by the panic of only seeing the corpse. These dying people would say that the dead man had appeared to them and tortured them in many ways. The other people in the village would exhume the corpse to see what it had been doing. He gives the following explanation when talking about the case of Peter Plogojowitz: "This brave man perished by a sudden or violent death. This death, whatever it is, can provoke in the survivors the visions they had after his death. Sudden death gives rise to inquietude in the familiar circle. Inquietude has sorrow as a companion. Sorrow brings melancholy. Melancholy engenders restless nights and tormenting dreams. These dreams enfeeble body and spirit until illness overcomes and, eventually, death."
Some modern scholars have argued that vampire stories may have been influenced by a rare illness called porphyria. The disease is a blood disorder that disrupts the production of haem. Porphyria was thought to be more common than elsewhere in small Transylvanian villages (roughly 1000 years ago) where inbreeding probably occurred. The haem group, found in every blood cell in the human body, is excited by electrons, but in a controlled fashion. However, the haem groups in porphyria sufferers causes uncontrollable tissue, bone and skin damage, made worse when the person comes into contact with sunlight. This would have given the porphyria sufferer a very pallid skin colour, with teeth that appear larger than normal, due to the porphyria damaging the gum tissue and causing it to recede. Of course these people would have been very anaemic, and thus drinking (animal) blood would have been a traditional treatment for anemia.
Certain forms of porphyria are associated with neurological symptoms, which can create psychiatric disorders. However, suggestions that porphyria sufferers crave the heme in human blood, or that the consumption of blood might ease the symptoms of porphyria, are based on a severe misunderstanding of the disease. There is no evidence to suggest that porphyria had anything to do with the development of vampire folklore.
Another disease that has been linked with vampire folklore is rabies. People suffering from this disease would avoid sunlight and looking into mirrors and would froth at the mouth. This froth could sometimes be red in color and resemble blood. However, like porphyria, there is little evidence to suggest that rabies was the inspiration for the original vampire legends.
Some psychologists in modern times recognize a disorder called clinical vampirism (or Renfield Syndrome, from Dracula's insect-eating henchman, Renfield, in the novel by Bram Stoker) in which the victim is obsessed with drinking blood, either from animals or humans.
There have been a number of murderers who performed seemingly vampiric rituals upon their victims. Serial killers Peter Kurten and Richard Trenton Chase were both called "vampires" in the tabloids after they were discovered drinking the blood of the people they murdered.
Finding "vampires" in graves
When the coffin of an alleged vampire was opened, people sometimes found that the cadaver did not look as they thought a normal corpse should. This was often taken to be evidence of vampirism. However, corpses decompose at different speeds depending on temperature and soil composition, and some of the signs of decomposition are not widely known. This has led vampire hunters to mistakenly conclude that a dead body had not decomposed at all, or, ironically, to interpret signs of decomposition as signs of continued life.[23][24]
Corpses swell as gases from decomposition accumulate in the torso and blood tries to escape the body. This causes the body to look "plump", "well-fed" and "ruddy" - changes that are all the more striking if the person was pale or thin in life. In the Arnold Paole case, an old woman's exhumed corpse was judged by her neighbours to look more plump and healthy than she had ever looked in life. It should be noted that folkloric accounts almost universally represent the alleged vampire as having ruddy or dark skin, not the pale skin of vampires in literature and film. Darkening of the skin is also caused by decomposition.
Blood can often be seen emanating from nose and mouth of a decomposing corpse, which could give the impression that the corpse was a vampire who had recently been drinking blood. The staking of a swollen, decomposing body could cause the body to bleed and also force the accumulated gases to escape the body. This could produce a groan when the gases moved past the vocal chords, or a sound reminiscent of flatus when they passed through the anus. The official reporting on the Peter Plogojowitz case speaks of "other wild signs which I pass by out of high respect".
After death, the skin and gums lose fluids and contract, exposing the roots of the hair, nails, and teeth, even teeth that were concealed in the jaw. This can produce the illusion that the hair, nails, and teeth have grown. At a certain stage, the nails fall off and the skin peels away, as reported in the Plogojowitz case - the dermis and nail beds emerging underneath were interpreted as "new skin" and "new nails". Finally, decomposition also causes the body to shift or contort itself, adding to the illusion that the corpse has been active after death.
Also medicine was not very advanced in the past so many people were in fact buried alive. In some cases people reported sounds from a specific coffin and then later it was dug up and fingernail marks were on the inside of the lid where the person had tried to escape. In other cases the person would hit their heads/noses/faces and it would appear that they had been "feeding".
Vampire bats
Bats have become an integral part of the traditional vampire only recently, although many cultures have stories about them. In Europe, bats and owls were long associated with the supernatural, mainly because they were night creatures. Conversely, the Gypsies thought them lucky and wore charms made of bat bones. In English heraldic tradition, a bat means "Awareness of the powers of darkness and chaos".[25] In South America, Camazotz was a bat god of the caves living in the Bathouse of the Underworld. The three species of actual vampire bats are all endemic to Latin America, and there is no evidence to suggest that they had any Old World relatives within human memory. It is therefore extremely unlikely that the folkloric vampire represents a distorted presentation or memory of the bat. During the 16th century the Spanish conquistadors first came into contact with vampire bats and recognized the similarity between the feeding habits of the bats and those of their legendary vampires. The bats were named after the folkloric vampire rather than vice versa; the Oxford English Dictionary records the folkloric use in English from 1734 and the zoological not until 1774. It wasn't long before vampire bats were adapted into fictional tales, and they have become one of the more important vampire associations in popular culture.
Vampires in fiction and popular culture

Count Orlock, a well-known example of vampire fiction, from the 1922 film Nosferatu.
Lord Byron arguably introduced the vampire theme to Western literature in his epic poem The Giaour (1813), but it was John Polidori who authored the first "true" vampire story called The Vampyre. Polidori was the personal physician of Lord Byron and the vampire of the story, Lord Ruthven, is based partly on him — making the character the first of our now familiar romantic vampires. The "ghost story competition" that spawned this piece was the same competition that motivated Mary Shelley to write her novel Frankenstein, another archetypal monster story.
Other examples of early vampire stories are the unfinished poem Christabel and Sheridan LeFanu's lesbian vampire story, Carmilla.
Bram Stoker's Dracula has been the definitive description of the vampire in popular fiction for the last century. Its portrayal of vampirism as a disease (contagious demonic possession), with its undertones of sex, blood, and death, struck a chord in a Victorian Europe where tuberculosis and syphilis were common. Stoker's writings are also adapted in many later works. Vampires have proved to be a rich subject for the film industry. In modern popular culture, Anne Rice's book series, Konami's Castlevania video game titles, Kouta Hirano's Hellsing manga, and television series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel have been especially successful and influential. There exist numerous role-playing games and popular novels featuring vampires.