Have you ever wondered how everybody seems to know all of the famous horror monsters? Why all over the world, the same ghoulies and ghosties seem to plague our nightmares and make us afraid to go out at night? Turns out, some of them have some pretty interesting reasons...
Possibly the most famous supernatural creature of all time, vampires have gotten where they are in our culture thanks to having stories of them that go back thousands of years. Cultures like the Mesopotamians, Norsemen, Hebrews, Ancient Greeks, and Romans all had stories of demonic creatures that come back from the dead. These were often blamed for famine and disease spreading across the land.
The myths we know the best about them originate in medieval times, with accounts coming out of "revenants," undead creatures that came back to drain the life of the living. Superstitions about these creatures spread around the world for the next several hundred years, most notably in the Slavic territories in the east.
Two historical figures that are often linked with vampirism include Count Vlad Tepes, the prince of Wallachia best known as "Vlad The Impaler," who was the inspiration for Bram Stoker's influential novel Dracula, and Countess Elizabeth Bathory of Hungary, a serial killer of young women who was rumored to bathe in the blood of virgins to preserve her youth.
The idea of wolves disguised as men goes back quite a long way! Ancient Germanic tribes believe that the greatest warriors were the wolves of the gods, who could assume human form and smite the tribe's enemies.
As Christianity took over, werewolves became the subject of folk tales. Funnily enough, more than a few accusations of it were probably just a form of Hypertrichosis, a rare condition that causes people to grow massive amounts of hair across their entire bodies.
Classically shown as another way that the dead can come back to life and stalk the living (I'm sure vampires are jealous), the real-life origins of zombies are a lot weirder than you might think.
The term "zombie" (or "zombi" as it was first spelled) is a combination of the Kongo words "nzambi" (god) and "zumbi" (fetish). The legend of dead bodies animated by magic soon moved to Haiti, where supposedly practitioners of black magic called "bokor" would enslave the dead to do their bidding.
While zombies appeared occasionally in the fiction of horror writers like H.P. Lovecraft and Richard Matheson, it wasn't until George Romero's Night of the Living Dead that we got our more modern idea of them.