Graveyard Shift Real-Life Instances of Actual Vampires  

Christopher Shultz
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List Rules Vote up the scariest real-life vampire that you'd never want to encounter in the wild

Are vampires real? If you define them simply as creatures who drink the blood of other creatures, then real vampires do exist, and they are plentiful, both amongst humans and other animals in the wild.  

But what of other aspects of vampire lore, like the fact they are undead creatures, that they are immortal, that they have sharpened incisors, the ability to shape-shift, that they can beguile or otherwise hypnotize people into bending to their will, or the idea that they cast no reflection? While many of these characteristics are the stuff of fantasy, as you will see in these true stories of real-life vampires, many are all too real. Other instances on this list do not necessarily demonstrate real vampires, but are instead documented "cases" of vampirism in the history books.
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Vlad the Impaler


Vlad the Impaler is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Real-Life Instances of Actual Vampires
Photo: Freebase/Public domain
One of the primary inspirations behind Bram Stoker's famous vampire character Dracula, Vlad's nickname is fairly self-explanatory - he impaled his enemies and displayed their corpses around his castle, as a message to anyone questioning the prince's might. But how did he become associated with creatures of the night? It is said Vlad enjoyed dipping his bread in the blood of those he defeated, one of the more tame sadistic and "unholy" acts in which the man engaged.

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Peter Plogojowitz


Peter Plogojowitz is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Real-Life Instances of Actual Vampires
Photo: UFA

Also known as Blagojevich, this man is one of the earliest examples of vampirism and the so-called vampire hysteria that plagued Europe in the 1730s. Moreover, Plogojowitz's story is credited as founding many of the most commonly recognized aspects of vampire folklore.  

It seems likely that, through the passage of time, this tale has taken on elements of the fantastic, confounding the truth of the situation, but it is nonetheless an enjoyable and chilling tale. To summarize as concisely as possible, it is said that weeks after dying and being buried, Plogojowitz was seen walking around his village, looking healthy and decidedly not dead.  

His wife even attests to having had a visit from her husband, requesting his shoes. Around this same time, several villagers began suffering a bizarre 24-hour illness and dying. All of them swore that Plogojowitz came to them in the middle of the night and throttled them in their beds. His son also reported seeing his father in their kitchen - then he too died under mysterious circumstances.  

It was finally decided to exhume Plogojowitz's body. Upon doing so, the villagers discovered the man alive and breathing in his coffin. They immediately staked him through the heart and burnt his corpse, after which the nightly terrors and sudden deaths instantly stopped.
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The Alnwick Vampire


The Alnwick Vampire is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Real-Life Instances of Actual Vampires
Photo:  shilmar/Pixabay/CC0 1.0

Some 800 years before the publication of Dracula, and long before the term "vampire" was popularized, an English historian, William of Newburgh, recorded a tale recounted to him by a devout and reputable priest. He told of a most dishonest sinner who escaped the law by retreating to Alnwick Castle.  

There he married, but was soon confronted with rumors his wife was unfaithful. He climbed atop the castle's roof to spy on her, and discovered the rumors were true. Shocked, the man fell from the roof and died. However, it was soon apparent the man was not dead at all, but rather a wandering undead revenant, spreading plague wherever he travelled.  

It was decided to dig up the man to inspect his corpse, and upon doing so, it was discovered to be bloated with fresh, warm blood. The body was immediately burned on a pyre, cleansing the air and releasing the land from the clutches of the man's plague.
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The Vampire Bat


The Vampire Bat is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Real-Life Instances of Actual Vampires
Photo:  Sandstein/Wikimedia/CC-SA-3.0

You might be surprised to learn that the bat was named for the mythological creature, and not the other way around. Vampire mythology dates back to 1730s Europe, whereas the bat was not recorded until the 1770s, in the Americas. Moreover, vampire bat saliva contains an anti-coagulant called draculin, which is of course named after Bram Stoker's Dracula.  

Despite the similarities between fiction and fact, vampire bats don't actually suck blood, but rather lap it up after biting their prey.