A Vampire is a mythological creature who drinks the blood of living human beings for sustenance. They can also sometimes prey upon cattle, sheep, goats, rabbits, and deer, according to the work of fiction they appear in. Bram Stoker's Dracula is one of the most famous references to vampires. Most tales of vampires came from Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean. Another famous example is Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend. The origin of vampires in lore is assumed to be the result of burial practices at the time, which dealt with the peasants burying a shallow grave for the deceased and the resulting gas buildup inside the corpses causing them to "rise up", with such phenomenon being prevalent during warm months.
In the horror genre, vampires have been popularized in many books, movies, and role playing games. The abilities of vampires differ in various fiction and myth. In Dracula, the vampire is able to transform into a bat or dog and to manipulate the weather. In most variants of the myth, a vampire's human victim also becomes a vampire.
Vampires are impervious to most forms of injury, and can only be destroyed in certain ways. Again these vary among differing fictions, but usually include driving a wooden stake through the vampire's heart, decapitation or exposure to sunlight (although it should be noted that in the original Dracula novel, sunlight merely weakened vampires rather than actually killing them). Vampires are usually repelled by garlic, crucifixes and sometimes mirrors (the last of which generally has them lacking a reflection).
Vampires are generally portrayed as evil, although a few recent books and films have portrayed vampire characters in a sympathetic light.
Vampires are also very well known for shape shifting into animals such as bats, wolves, owls, ravens, cats, foxes, rats, and moths.
In books vampires have been portrayed many a time throughout history. The most famous vampire in literature is probably Bram Stoker's Dracula. Another famous vampire series is The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice.
In organizations and culture
There have been cults which praise vampires and believe they exist. These cults are generally influenced by mass-media portraitures of vampires, whereas they are depicted as being strong, willful, almost invincible, and fair of skin or otherwise attractive. Many cults base their quasi-religious rhetoric regarding vampires on works written by known Satanists. Also, people who believe themselves to be vampires frequently dress in make-up and dress associated with the neo-Gothic subculture, itself also informed by Satanists and their works. Some people believe vampires exist. These people generally associate themselves with vampire cults and actively work to disparage the Word of God. In the 1980s a Christian woman was killed by a young woman who claimed to be a vampire in need of fresh human blood. She was tried as mentally incompetent and was released several years later.
There have been numerous films featuring vampires, including several adaptations of Dracula, such as the version starring Christopher Lee (1958), and the loose adaptation Nosferatu (1922) by the famed German Expressionist, F.W. Murnau.More recent examples include The Twilight Saga, Van Helsing, Underworld, and the Blade series, each with its own reimagining of the vampire myth.