From "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to the "Twilight" saga, vampires have infiltrated our modern society, and they bring a macabre sense of delight to sci-fi lovers of all ages. While people around the world have feared and fantasized about vampire-like creatures for decades, our modern image of the vampire really originated when a theater manager named Bram Stoker wrote about the character of Count Dracula. Stoker was not the first to write about vampires, but his work was the first to become popular, and he spent years researching the subject [source: Coppens].
The Dracula story can be traced to Eastern Europe. Over the centuries, many stories about vampire-like creatures came out of this region. In general, these different monsters can be divided up into demons that were undead but could walk among the living, and dead peoples' spirits, which never left their own bodies. Some well-known demon vampires are the upir and vrykolakas. According to these Russian and Greek legends, people who fell outside the Christian faith were more likely to become reanimated after they died. Eventually, Western Europe got wind of the myth, where it became known as "vampire."
Stoker's Dracula character was based on a real person, Prince Vladislav Basarab, who had a reputation for brutality and a penchant for impaling enemies on wooden stakes [source: Coppens]. Some of the traits that Stoker gave his Dracula character were not previously known as vampire attributes. For example, Stoker's Dracula did not have a reflection, was averse to sunlight and was repelled by crucifixes. Also, in most portrayals, Dracula wore a black cape. Today, these are all things we commonly associate with vampires. Over the years, other writers have toyed with vampires, giving them unique traits, but as a whole, the image of Dracula as the ultimate modern portrayal of a vampire has stuck with us.
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