Vampires page 9
A number of murderers have 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. Similarly, in 1932, an unsolved murder case in Stockholm, Sweden was nicknamed the "Vampire murder", due to the circumstances of the victim's death. The late 16th-century Hungarian countess and mass murderer Elizabeth Bבthory became particularly infamous in later centuries' works, which depicted her bathing in her victims' blood in order to retain beauty or youth.
Vampire lifestyle is a term for a contemporary subculture of people, largely within the Goth subculture, who consume the blood of others as a pastime; drawing from the rich recent history of popular culture related to cult symbolism, horror films, the fiction of Anne Rice, and the styles of Victorian England. Active vampirism within the vampire subculture includes both blood-related vampirism, commonly referred to as Sanguine Vampirism, and Psychic Vampirism, or "feeding" from pranic energy. Practitioners may take on a variety of "roles", including both "vampires" and their sources of blood or pranic energy.
Although many cultures have stories about them, vampire bats have only recently become an integral part of the traditional vampire lore. Indeed, vampire bats were only integrated into vampire folklore when they were discovered on the South American mainland in the 16th century. The vampire bat was revered in Central American culture; Camazotz was a bat god of the caves who lived in the bathhouse of the Underworld. Although there are no vampire bats in Europe, bats and owls have long been associated with the supernatural and omens, although mainly due to their nocturnal habits, and in modern English heraldic tradition, a bat means "Awareness of the powers of darkness and chaos".
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 unlikely that the folkloric vampire represents a distorted presentation or memory of the vampire bat. The bats were named after the folkloric vampire rather than vice versa; the Oxford English Dictionary records their folkloric use in English from 1734 and the zoological not until 1774. Although the vampire bat's bite is usually not harmful to a person, the bat has been known to actively feed on humans and large prey such as cattle and often leave the trademark, two-prong bite mark on its victim's skin.
The literary Dracula transforms into a bat several times in the novel, and vampire bats themselves are mentioned twice in it. The 1927 stage production of Dracula followed the novel in having Dracula turn into a bat, as did the film, where Bela Lugosi would transform into a bat. The bat transformation scene would again be used by Lon Chaney Jr. in 1943's Son of Dracula. Ironically, vampire bats are small creatures and have never been used in the film industry; instead, the much larger flying fox bat is used in bat transformation scenes.
In modern fiction
The vampire is now a fixture in popular fiction. Such fiction began with eighteenth century poetry and continued with nineteenth century short stories, the first and most influential of which was John Polidori's The Vampyre (1819), featuring the vampire Lord Ruthven. Lord Ruthven's exploits were further explored in a series of vampire plays in which he was the anti-hero. The vampire theme continued in penny dreadful serial publications such as Varney the Vampire (1847) and culminated in the pre-eminent vampire novel of all time: Dracula by Bram Stoker, published in 1897. Over time, some attributes now regarded as integral became incorporated into the vampire's profile: fangs and vulnerability to sunlight appeared over the course of the 19th century, with Varney the Vampire and Count Dracula both bearing protruding teeth, and Murnau's Nosferatu (1922) fearing daylight. The cloak appeared in stage productions of the 1820s, with a high collar introduced by playwright Hamilton Deane to help Dracula 'vanish' on stage. Lord Ruthven and Varney were able to be healed by moonlight, although no account of this is known in traditional folklore. Implied though not often explicitly documented in folklore, immortality is one attribute which features heavily in vampire film and literature. Much is made of the price of eternal life, namely the incessant need for blood of former equals.