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|Of all the creatures of the night, one is to be most feared, the Vampire! In this video, we investigate the truth about these feared beings. We meet a couple of real life bloodthirsty killers and find animals that would love to feast off your blood. Welcome to "The Natural History of The Vampire".|
About The Video
Creatures Of The Night
Of all the creatures of the night, one is most to be feared, the Vampire!
In this video we investigate the truth and fiction of this the most dreadful of beasts. Prepare for a tale of blood!
For countless centuries, throughout many countries in the world, there have been thousands of legends of vampires.
John William Polidori
John William Polidori is credited with writing the first vampire story in English. Polidori was an Italian-English physician and also a writer.
In 1819 he published a short story called "The Vampyre". Initially this was attributed to Lord Byron, as Polidori had been his physician.
Dracula is by far the most famous vampire. Dracula was created by the author Bram Stoker, and first appeared in his novel "Dracula", which was published in 1897.
Bram Stoker was an Irish novelist and writer. For many years Stoker worked for Henry Irving, who was the most famous actor of his time. He managed one of Irving's theatres, the Lyceum Theatre in London, for 27 years.
Vlad The Impaler
One of the major influences for Bram Stoker's character, Dracula, was Vlad III, the Prince of Wallachia. Vlad III was born c1431 and died December 1476. Wallachia is now in modern day Romania.
Vlad III's surname was Dracula, which means "Son of The Devil" or "Son of the Dragon", but the name that we know him by today is "Vlad the Impaler". In his lifetime, his name alone, would have induced great fear.
Vlad's cruelty is legendary. He killed many thousands by impaling, them whilst they were still alive. He also used many other methods of torture. No one knows how many people died under Vlad III's rule, estimates range between 40,000 to 100,000 victims. There are many stories about Vlad's atrocities, some of which he may well have created, as he ruled by fear.
Another real life bloodthirsty killer was Elizabeth Báthory. She is probably the most famous female mass killer.
It is said that she and four accomplices killed hundreds of girls, and young women. Legend states Elizabeth Báthory bathed in their blood, in an attempt to keep herself young.
There have been many hundreds of films made about vampires.
One of the first was "Nosferatu", which was made in 1921. This was really an adaptation of Bram Stoker's "Dracula", but the film makers could not obtain rights from Bram Stoker's widow, Florence Stoker. So "Count Dracula" was renamed "Count Orlock".
"Nosferatu" starred Max Schreck, as the vampire, "Count Orlock". After "Nosferatu" was released in 1922 Florence Stoker, sued for copyright infringement. She won the case, but "Prana Film", the company that made "Nosferatu" declared itself bankrupt to avoid paying. The court also ordered that all prints of "Nosferatu" be destroyed. Luckily, by this time the film had been distributed worldwide, so it was impossible to destroy all copies, and the film exists to this day.
Dracula - The Original Film
In 1931 the classic film "Dracula" was released. This was the first authorized adaptation of Bram Stoker's book, "Dracula". It became an overnight sensation and proved to be a massive box office hit, over the first two days of its opening at New York's Roxy Theatre, "Dracula" sold 50,000 tickets.
The film, directed by Tod Browning, starred Béla Lugosi in the title role of Count Dracula. Béla Lugosi was a Hungarian actor, who had made his way to Hollywood. Béla Lugosi was not the first choice to play the title character, but as he had already acted the part in a play, he was chosen.
Béla Lugosi's depiction of Dracula was very different from Max Schreck's "Count Orlock". Béla Lugosi's aristocratic and cultured Count, has influenced the way that Dracula is portrayed to this day.
Protection Against Vampires
Even though vampires are so powerful, there are steps that you can take to protect yourself against them.
Garlic placed around windows will stop vampires climbing in. The crucifix also offers strong protection against vampires.
Take care who you allow to enter your house. Once you have invited a vampire into your home, they will be able to come and go as they please. You maybe to tell if you have accidentally allowed a vampire in to your house, if your guest has no reflection in a mirror, then they are a vampire.
Animal Blood Drinkers
It's not just vampires that you should be afraid of. There are also animals that will drink your blood. The vampire bat lives off animals blood.
You should be careful where you sleep, as bed bugs love human blood.
If you are a fish, watch out for lamprey eels. They will latch on to you and dine off your blood.
Be careful in water as leeches love to feed off you.
Mosquitoes also like a drop, or two of your blood.
Trick or Treat
31 October is known as Halloween. On this day many of us dress up as monsters and some of us as vampires. We accept sweets or other treats in exchange for not performing nasty tricks.
This may just be us dressing up and pretending, but now we know that maybe vampires are real. So take care!
Cutting Room Floor
Sir Henry Irving
Bram Stoker, the author of "Dracula" worked for the actor Sir Henry Irving (6 February 1838 - 13 October 1905).
Sir Henry Irving was the most famous actor of his generation and had great dramatic presence. He often played gentlemanly villains. It is thought that he was another inspiration for Bram Stoker's creation.
The Vampire Shepherd From Blow
This story of the "Blow Vampire", was first told by a monk, called Neplach (1332- 1368). These events occurred in a village called Blow. Blow, which is sometimes called Blov, was in Bohemia, which is now in the modern day Czech Republic.
A shepherd called Myslata had recently died, but every night he rose from his grave and went from farm to farm. There he spoke and frightened everyone he met, and if he called you by name, you would die within eight days.
To stop this vampire, the villagers dug up Myslata's grave. They then drove a wooden stake through his heart. This is the normal way to kill a vampire. What happened next was quite extraordinary.
That night Myslata reappeared and laughed at the villagers and taunted them:
"They hurt me much, as they gave me a staff to defend me from the dogs"
The villagers again dug up the body of Myslata, and this time they cremated him. After this the village had no more trouble from Myslata, the Vampire from Blow.
A Vampire Called Arnod Paole
In 1727, a soldier called Arnod Paole (sometimes spelt Arnold Paole) returned to his home village, Meduegna. Meduegna was close to Belgrade, which is now in modern day Serbia.
Arnod Paole bought some land and a house and settled down. Soon, he met his neighbour's daughter, and they were wed. Although a good man, there was always an air of sadness that surrounded Arnod Paole, eventually his wife found out his story.
This occurred when he was stationed in Greece. When he was on duty, Arnod Paole was attacked by a creature that bit him. The creature was one of the undead, in other words a vampire. Paole dug the vampire from his grave, and drove a stake through its heart. Paole drank some of the vampire's blood, hoping this would protect himself against becoming a vampire.
Soon after telling his wife this story, Arnod Paole fell from a hay wagon, and broke his neck.
Arnod Paole was buried, but that was not the end of the matter. About a month after the burial, villagers reported seeing Arnod wandering around the village. Worse than this was, anyone whom he came in contact with died within a few days.
The villagers contacted the government who sent two officials. When Arnod Paole's body was examined it was intact, with blood around its mouth. A stake was driven through its heart and then the body was cremated.
All was then quiet, and the matter seemed closed. But, after five years there were more attacks and deaths. This time many graves were opened, and some of the bodies they found were clearly vampires. The villagers drove a stake through the heart of these bodies and cremated them. This time there was no reoccurrence, and the villagers could finally live in peace.
A Vampire Called Peter Plogojowitz
Peter Plogojowitz lived in a village named Kisilova, which is in Serbia. After his death others in Kisilova suddenly started dying, after very short illnesses. Before they died, each of the victims claimed that Peter Plogojowitz had visited them and had tried to throttle them. His wife also said that he had visited her to ask for his shoes.
When the villagers opened Peter Plogojowitz's grave, they not only found his body in perfect condition, they also discovered his hair and beard had grown, and blood was seen on his mouth. After driving a stake through his heart, Peter Plogojowitz's body was burnt and after this the attacks finally stopped.