Our Favorite Old-School Vampire Rules: A Refresher
Posted 11.12.12 by Mandy
Now that The Twilight Saga Is Winding Down Do Our Favorite Nightcrawlers Need a Reboot?
The Twilight franchise is coming to an end this week with the release of Breaking Dawn - Part 2, and the time is ripe for a new vampire series to work its way on to the scene. Stephenie Meyer’s series, as well as several other recent vampire franchises, ignore some of the more complex old-school vampire rules, but we kind of like those Bram Stoker laws of the undead. So for all you aspiring writers out there who want to create the next big thing, here's what we'd like to see in future vampire series. Also, for those who live in fear of vampires, feel free to use these strategies to vampire-proof your life.
Destroying a vampire can be a pretty complicated process, but it turns out that warding off or even distracting the blood-loving undead is pretty easy. Here are some of the best apotropaic objects that have been ignored in some recent vampire tales.
Seeds, grains, hairs, etc: It turns out that in older versions of vampire lore, the bloodsuckers had some pretty severe OCD behaviors. Apparently, a bunch of seeds, grains, or even the hairs on a dead cat can distract a vampire. It is thought that if a handful of mustard seeds or grains of sea sand or anything similar are scattered in a vampire’s path, the bloodsucker would be compelled to count each and every one of them. If there is a large enough pile, the vampire would be held up long enough by counting that the sun would rise before he could get any foul deeds done.
Garlic: It's delicious, it's said to prevent heart disease as well as gangrene, and it keeps vampires at bay. A single head of garlic worn around the neck can ward off a vampire, their shape-changing abilities are inhibited just by being near garlic, and in the novel Dracula, Professor Van Helsing uses garlic all over a bedroom to keep the count away. With as much cooking and Food Network watching as Edward Cullen did, it seems that Meyer's vampires were not so averse to the flavorful bulb, but that's no reason future vampires should be garlic friendly.
Religious Objects: This is one that’s definitely fallen out of favor, but religious objects — crosses, the bible, holy water and communion wafers — have been used to ward off vampires. This rule can be tricky because often it is the belief of the individual brandishing the item that determines it’s effectiveness. If the person holding the cross doesn’t really think it is imbued with the power of God, it probably won’t be. We like this vampire rule because it levels the playing field a little. If vampires can fly, change into animals, and put someone into a trance merely with a stare, it only seems fair that wearing a cross or having a St. Christopher medallion handy could prevent a vampire attack.
Thorns: Thorns are also used to ward off vampires. Hawthorn branches are mentioned in literature, but roses, particularly wild roses, are effective in warding off evil.
Luckily for humans, vampires are crippled by a wide array of weaknesses and limitations.
Etiquette: Old-school vampires are all about etiquette. They can’t enter a dwelling unless they have been cordially and explicitly invited to do so. Last summer's remake of Fright Night proved that the game created by a vampire fishing for an invitation and a human denying the invite can be quite entertaining. We're definitely up for more of that.
Daylight: In many different versions of the folklore, vampires are in some sort of coma during daylight hours, but the idea that vampires crumble apart and smoke and everything is a 20th century invention that looked cool in movies. Either way, it makes the stakes a little higher than the undead just being self-conscious about sparkling.
Flowing Water: This one needs quite a few qualifiers. A vampire is unable to cross running water except for the ebb and flow of the tide. Or he could be carried over it sometimes. And also if there’s shape-shifting involved a vampire could possibly fly over water as a bat. Even with all the complications, this is another rule we want to see used more often. No more hopping across ravines for you, Cullen family.
Staying Home: Vampires are supposed to only be able to rest on soil from the land where they were born. Of course this rule can be dodged by packing up some soil and carrying it around with them, but carrying a big load of soil around from place to place can present a challenge for a vampire that's being actively hunted.
Additionally, one source claims that one effective strategy is to "take a large black dog and paint an extra set of eyes on his forehead with white paint" as this is said to alienate vampires. We're not sure if it will alienate a bloodsucker, but it seems like a sure-fire way to humiliate a rottweiler.
Prevention: Ben Franklin was quoted as saying that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," and this logic holds true with vampires. Cloves of garlic can be inserted in the nose, eyes, and ears of a corpse to prevent vampirism, and, in some places, stakes are driven into the ground near graves to prevent a dead body from becoming vampiric. Additionally, thorns or something else similarly sharp can be placed under the tongue of a corpse to prevent it from sucking blood. It seems that a sharp object would actually come in handy for blood-sucking activities, but these aren’t our rules.
Destruction: In the Twilight series, the only real threat to vampires were other vampires or werewolves, but in order for the humans in a story not to be completely helpless, it's useful for a normal person to have the ability to destroy a vampire. According to folklore, a consecrated bullet can be used to kill a vampire, and a silver coin cut into four parts and shot from a gun is particularly effective. A stake through the heart can work — a stake through the heart where two roads meet even more so — but it’s always a good idea to separate a vampire’s head from his body after killing him. And to really do things right, separate the head from the body and then put the head in some running water and don’t be afraid to throw wild roses liberally down the stream after it and around the rest of the body. Can’t be too careful when it comes to vampire disposal.
How 'bout it, Hollywood? With all these rules, the treatment for the next big vampire epic practically writes itself.
Images courtesy Twentieth Century Fox and Universal Pictures