From Sparkly to Sexy to Scary: A Statistical Analysis of 6 Popular Vampire Myths

The mythos and portrayal of vampires vary greatly by tradition and region, but in popular culture the vampire is almost always defined by an unquenchable thirst for blood, skin that is cool to the touch, avoidance of the sun and garlic and the lack of soul.
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Vampires--the always young, never dying creatures of the night--have a long and colorful history in our culture. From characters in books (indie and traditional), movies and television--even a former President has been suspected of hunting them!--the legend of the vampire is so persistent that it's hard to believe there isn't at least a little truth to their existence.

In fact, the history of vampires in literature can be traced to the 1720s, but stories and warnings of vampiric creatures go back much further. Some even claim that vampires were featured in the Bible, citing either Lazarus (raised from the dead by Jesus) or Cain (condemned by God to forever to wander the Earth).

This vampire reference, dated 1797, is from The Bride of Corinth by Goethe.

From my grave to wander I am forced
Still to seek the God's long sever'd link,
Still to love the bridegroom I have lost,
And the lifeblood of his heart to drink.

The mythos and portrayal of vampires vary greatly by tradition and region, but in popular culture the vampire is almost always defined by an unquenchable thirst for blood, skin that is cool to the touch, avoidance of the sun and garlic and the lack of soul. And a consistently reliable way to slay these creatures is via a wooden stake that pierces their unholy hearts.

What gives these creatures of the night such staying power? Perhaps it's that Vampires touch on the universal themes of Good vs. Evil, including the sub-topics of religion, soul, the afterlife and of course, sex. The power of love also plays an important role in many vampire stories, as does the inherent draw of the broken dark figure hiding in the shadows. What could be more appealing than a creature which embodies both redemption and damnation all wrapped up in a sexy leather overcoat?

We've listed the top criteria that go into the making a great vampire below.

Mythos - What are the rules of the vampire world? Are they consistent?
Creation - Where do the vampires come from?
Sex appeal - Admit it, that's part of the draw--danger mixed with good looks has always been appealing.
Danger factor - Vampires are killers. They drink blood. They should be scary!
Seclusion and Secrets - Creatures of the night, vampires must hide from the human population.

Below we've rated (just for the heck of it, based on the above criteria, on a scale of 1-10) some of the most beloved vampires--from books, film and television.

Source: Twilight (books into film)
"Twilight", a vampire-meets-high-school-girl romance novels, was written by Stephanie Meyer and published in 2005. It was followed by "New Moon", "Eclipse" and "Breaking Dawn". The first movie was released (to major hysteria) in 2008.

Main Vampire: Edward Masen was turned in 1918 when Carlisle Cullen
found him dying of the Spanish Flu. Belongs to a small clan of vampires who do not feed on humans but live on the less appetizing blood of animals. Edward is telepathic and falls in love with Bella Swan at 109 years old.

Mythos - 8
Original in many ways. Vampires can live in light, they are hard as stone and their skin reflects direct sunlight, giving away their existence. They have forgotten most of their human life but do not become as "other" from themselves as other myths.

Creation - 5
Not addressed but in line with the Dracula Mythos. However, they do not have fangs and instead infect those they bite with venom.

Sex appeal - 10
There is significant evidence given that the Cullen clan's appeal is not only emotional, but also bio-chemical. A strong case is made that these vampires are created to seduce. Their voice, their breath, their smell, everything about them is designed to draw their prey in.

Danger factor - 7
Newborns are extremely dangerous and unpredictable, however, other vampires have it within their control to not feed on humans, should they choose. They talk about being dangerous a lot but it appears to be a choice.

Seclusion and Secrets - 7
This point is contradicted during the story. They stay secret from the humans, but live among them closely, in houses, not aging. Also, the Cullen's are pretty conspicuous with their five adopted children who date each other. Plus they are wealthy, not exactly below the radar.

Total Count: 37 out of 50

Source: True Blood (books into television series)
The HBO television series is based on "The Southern Vampire Mystery" novels by author Charlaine Harris, which details the co-existence of vampires and humans in Bon Temps, a fictional, small town in the state of Louisiana.

Main Vampires: Erik Northman and Bill Compton are the lead vampires - both powerful, old and deceptive. Human emotion and morals evade them, but love in the form of Sookie Stackhouse touches them both.

Mythos - 10
Completely Original. Vampires have "come out of the coffin" and co-exist with humans thanks to the creation of "True Blood" a synthetic blood product. Also, vampire blood, when ingested by humans is a restorative and hallucinatory drug.

Creation - 9
Upon revealing themselves, the Vampires reveal that they are not dead humans, but simply victims of a virus. It is later revealed that this isn't true and their creation is more in line with the Dracula Mythos.

Sex appeal - 8
Vampires can "glamour" humans to get them to do what they want, but in generally it's not necessary as they are strong and their natural human attractiveness is enhanced.

Danger factor - 10
Totally unpredictable, vampires are enflamed by the sight or smell of blood, the need to fight or if are sexually aroused. Sex play goes hand in hand with the sharing of blood and their control is often suspect.

Seclusion and Secrets - 10
While the vampires have revealed their existence to humans, their internal society is kept completely secret. America alone is ruled by kingdoms, each with a King or Queen who rule over their area with the use of Sheriffs.

Total Count: 47 out of 50

Source: Black Dagger Brotherhood (books)
A paranormal romance series by author J.R. Ward that focuses on six vampire brothers and warriors who live together and defend their race against Lessers, de-souled humans who threaten their kind.

Main Vampires: Vampire Warriors defend their race against the Omega and the Lessers, a de-souled army of humans who have declared war on all vampires.

Mythos - 10
Completely Original. Vampires are human until the age of transformation. Vampires do not take human blood but instead feed on Vampires of the opposite sex to survive. There are also Symphaths, Non-Temporal Beings and Shadows.

Creation - 8
Not addressed specifically, but with the rich religious and biological reality the creation story just is. They are another species.

Sex appeal - 10
Big strong angry men with tattoos who adore their mates and fight for the good of their race. And this is a romance series, so they do some other very sexy things too!

Danger factor - 5
They are very dangerous to each other and completely capable or wreaking havoc, however, not against humans. In fact they have little interest in humans. The story line following the Omega is more of a danger but the Brotherhood fights against them.

Seclusion and Secrets - 10
Their society is completely hidden, including royalty, aristocracy, money and social systems. They run parallel to the human world and few suspect, except Butch, but there are reasons for that.

Total Count: 43 out of 50

Source: Blade (comic book into movie)
Loosely based on the Marvel Comics character Blade, it morphed into a 1998 vampire superhero action film starring Wesley Snipes and Stephen Dorff.

Main Vampire: Vampire and human hybrid, Blade's mother was bitten by a vampire while pregnant. Comic and Movie bios vary, but it agreed that he is a day-walker (can resist sunlight) but still craves blood. He spends his life hunting vampires to avenge the death of his mother.

Mythos - 10
Well thought out and detailed, spanning generations, science and fantasy.

Creation - 10
Drake (Dracula) was the first to have the genetic defect creating Vampirism. His direct descendants are pure bloods while those who contract the virus through a bite are what we think of as Vampires.

Sex appeal - 7 - This is extremely variable. Vampires in this world are wealthy, devious and powerful, but no more appealing than their human selves.

Danger factor - 10
The Thirst in this world is undeniable. The vampires require blood because their cells cannot produce hemoglobin. No matter how much they resist the need is cellular.

Seclusion and Secrets - 10
The secret society of vampires is wealthy and organized, including a political system and social hierarchy. They have human helpers and many secret systems to keep their existence concealed.

Total Count: 47 out of 50

Source: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (television series)
American television series, aired from March 10, 1997, until May 20, 2003.

Main Vampire: Sired by Darla in Ireland in 1753, Angelus (Angel) was known as the scourge of Europe until he killed a Romanian Gypsy girl whose family cursed him with a soul. Finds purpose when he meets Buffy and falls in love.

Mythos - 10
They drink human blood and are soulless, and while the shadow of their human personality remains, they are not the same creature. Consistent.

Creation - 9
Vampires are half-breeds, not full demons, but a kind of Demon/Human hybrid. It is an original premise, but not always consistent. New Vampires are created by biting humans but not draining them to death and then having the victim drink the vampire's blood.

Sex appeal - 8
There's no supernatural sex appeal added, although Angel himself does own a pair of leather pants (and as worn by actor David Boreanaz, which ratchets the sex appeal up considerably).

Danger factor - 8
While they are killers, some have a strange kind of conscious even without a soul.

Seclusion and Secrets - 7
Intended to be secret, but not very good about it most of the time.

Total Count: 42 out of 50

Source: "Dark Shadows" (television series, soon to be a Tim Burton film)
A gothic television soap opera that aired weekdays on ABC from 1966 to 1971. Vampire Barnabas Collins arrived a year into the show's run.

Main Vampire: Barnabas Collins
Cursed by a jilted lover, Barnabas is bitten by a hell bat and transformed into a Vampire. He has many romances, time-travel and even a parallel reality. The story centers on Barnabas and his extended family over several generations.

Mythos - 9
In line with the Dracula mythos including strength, hypnotism, transformation into a bat and disappearing. Barnabas also uses sorcery.

Creation - 3
Not revealed - something referred to as the "Vampiric Life Force" allows Barnabas to be human while the Golem Adam takes on his vampire side. There is no science or fantasy to explain it and it's pretty convoluted.

Sex appeal - 10
The first popular interpretation of a vampire as a sex symbol, Barnabas is seductive and smart (and soon to be a movie creature portrayed by no less than Johnny Depp).

Danger factor - 8
Unpredictable. While much of the series shows him as the protagonist, the evil under the surface is always present

Seclusion and Secrets - 10
The secret remains confined to the players at hand.

Total Count: 40 out of 50

Based on these numbers we've rated the "awesomeness" of various vampire stories in the following order:

TIE - True Blood and Blade
Black Dagger Brotherhood
Dark Shadows

Shockingly, the need for supernatural sex-appeal appears to be the least important factor and the series' with the best creation stories and world building (mythos) rate the highest. Perhaps this comes from the need of the reader/viewer to be able to loose themselves in this other world. When the parameters of the mythos are well-defined, readers don't have to work so hard to buy into the plot.

Regardless, I love vampires. I even love Twilight. But I have to say, it's exciting to see my beloved monsters rated on more than teen love triangle appeal and instead, the stuff nightmares are made of!

For more indie books about vampires, check out Indie Reader

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