Modern Vampires

Vampire belief still persists across the globe. While some cultures preserve their original traditions, the modern notion of a vampire tends to be influenced, even for those who believe in it, by the well known fictional image of the vampire as it occurs in films and literature, rather than by folkloric prototypes. Beyond the vampyre scenes, there are still believers in supernatural blood-sucking creatures.

In the 1970s, there were rumors (spread by the local press) that a vampire haunted Highgate Cemetery in London. Amateur vampire hunters flocked in large numbers in the cemetery. Several books have been written about the case, notably by Sean Manchester, a local man who was among the first to suggest the existence of the “Highgate Vampire” and who later claimed to have exorcised and destroyed a whole nest of vampires in the area.

In the modern folklore of Puerto Rico and Mexico, the chupacabra (goat-sucker) is said to be a creature that feeds upon the flesh or drinks the blood of domesticated animals, leading some to consider it vampiric. The “chupacabra hysteria” was frequently associated with deep economic and political crises, particularly during the mid-1990s. The chupacabra is also believed by some to be an extraterrestrial.

During late 2002 and early 2003, hysteria about alleged attacks of vampires swept through the African country of Malawi. Mobs stoned one individual to death and attacked at least four others, including Governor Eric Chiwaya, based on the belief that the government was colluding with vampires.

In Romania during February 2004, several relatives of Toma Petre, thinking that he had become a vampire, dug up his body, tore out his heart, burned it and drank its ashes in water.

In January 2005, it was reported that an attacker had bitten a number of people in Birmingham, England, fueling concerns about a vampire roaming the streets. However, local police stated that no such crime had been reported, and this case appears to be an urban legend.