I posted this on GetFanged.com on April 24, 2011, where it became a featured blog post! Pretty good for my first on one the site. So here it is for you to enjoy.
At the basic level, vampires are a personification of the fear of death. They are not the only one that we made. We also have The Grim Reaper and the Banshee, but vampires stand out. Because of all of the personifications, they have become the most human (some will complain, lately, too human).
Vampires were a warning to the family and friends of the deceased to make sure they followed the funeral rites completely. If something had not been done, the recently dead would come back and take you with them. It makes sense. Someone that was improperly buried or cremated might still spread disease. Vampires came back to the family first. The ones closest were the ones that were in the most danger.
Fear of death and the lack of understanding of what happened when people die, led to our idea of what a vampire was. Most of them were corpses, closer to our idea of zombie. Most were mindless, but many did retain their memories of their former life. Sunlight was not the deterrent, some vampires needed the sun. Holy relics had no affect on them. Those pieces of protection came later.
As we changed, so did the vampire. Traits of the incubus and succubus were blended into the corpse. Some would come back and exhaust their former wives or husbands to death. Others would sire children. The sexuality of the vampire was born. Now the vampire was not just a creature that would bring death, but could seduce and tempt you to join them.
But what happened? What happened to the fearsome creature that anyone that came across would have to find a way to escape? Many modern vampires come across as, non-vampire. The only thing that defined them as vampires was the drinking of blood. But even now, that is being ignored. Many vampires do not drink blood any more.
Why blood? Blood is life. Without blood you die. Vampires would take the most precious thing from us and use it for their survival. Some would go further and eat the flesh too. Anyone that has tried to sleep the night in a room or tent full of blood sucking bugs, knows that you wake up tired and sick. A vampire visit would do the same.
Some modern vampires look down their noses at blood drinking. They would rather drink animals, or take their energy from people around them. Does this make them any less of a vampire? As much as I hate to say this, no. They have changed with us again. Zombies have taken over their role as mindless killers. Vampires had to change, they had to become more like us.
But as they change, a bit of the fear still remains. These new breed of vampires may seem nice, and sweet, but if they truly are following in footsteps of the vampires that came before, we should still fear them. Because what a better way for a killer to let himself or herself into your life, than appearing as your friend.
We still need vampires. Maybe the violent killers will make a comeback (I hope so, those are type I write about). Or maybe we will see them evolve yet again. Time can only tell.