Scary: 9 Vampire Legends That Are Actually True

Hold onto your garlic: These vampire myths are actually rooted in fact, which makes them all the more creepy.

By Reader's Digest Editors
  • Loading
    Wikimedia Commons

    The Legend of the Blood Countess

    Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who lived from 1560 to 1614 in Hungary, was accused of vampire behavior: biting the flesh of victims and bathing in their blood as a beauty treatment.

    Wikimedia Commons

    The Legend of Dracula, "Son of the Dragon"

    Vlad of Walachia, better known as Vlad the Impaler, is most likely the root of several vampire legends, including Dracula. In addition to impaling enemies on stakes, Vlad would eat bread that had been dipped in his enemies’ blood.


    The Legend of the Ka

    Egyptians also had their share of vampire lore and blood suckers. The Egyptian goddess Sekhmet was known for her taste for blood; and according to the Egyptian Book of the Dead, if a certain part of the soul called the ka didn’t receive adequate offerings, it left the tomb to drink blood.


    The Legend of the Ch'iang Shih

    In China, vampires had long, hooked claws and red eyes. They were known as ch’iang shih, which translates to “corpse-hopper.”


    The Legend of the Ekimmu

    A Sumerian and Babylonian myth dating from 4,000 B.C. describes an ekimmu—a spirit that isn’t buried properly that returns to suck life from the living.


    The Legend of the Rising Dead

    Throughout northwest Europe, stones called dolmens were placed over graves to prevent the dead from rising.

    Hulton Archive/Getty Images

    The Legend of the Vampires of the Plague

    During the 16th century, it was believed that vampires fed off the bodies of plague victims, and that female vampires spread the plague. Those suspected of being vampires were even buried with rocks wedged in their mouths.


    The Legend of the Vampire Coffin

    Sometimes grave robbers would open a coffin and the corpse would move or sit up—a natural reaction that can be caused by decomposition. This may have led to the legend of vampires sleeping in coffins.


    The Legend of the Vampire in Medicine

    Medical ailments can mimic symptoms of vampirism. For example, haematodipsia is a sexual thirst for blood, and hemeralopia is day blindness. Porphyria causes sensitivity to light and teeth that are stained reddish brown. 


    Become more interesting every week!

    Get our Read Up newsletter

    Sending Message
    how we use your e-mail

    Your Comments

    • Marie M Davis

      they might give you Disease and i don’t know about anything that cause anything i am not doctor or scientist cause you have talk with them cause i not a doctor or scientist and so that you know more about vampires disease

    • Marie M Davis

      vampires are rule cause i can see them but i think cause i can image them in my mind

    • jojo12344

      are vampires real?

      • bone crusher

        I think that someone should get a vampire and show every one

    • Louis Gilbert Ting

      In 6/10, is the photo edited? It looks there is a woman ghost there

      • Victoria VonEvilina

        A chinese lady with a white dress?

    • Helen McCaffrey

      Most modern vampires run for office and run the government sucking the lifeblood of citizens.

    • Caroline

      There are so called ‘vampires’. They have a liver disease called porphyria. They are allergic to sunlight so tend to go out after dark, preferring a full moon. in some cases hair grows on the face..;hence the myth about ‘werewolves’. They often have a ‘taste’ for blood as their own lacks certain enzymes. Porphyria sufferers are allergic to garlic, in fact if ingested they get severe abdominal pains that may even lead to death. Teeth, even the skeletal system turns pink colour, and gums recede making their incisors look like blood stained fangs…Fortunely this disease is rare.(the King George iii suffered from it),

      • c.ann

        WOW!!…very informative…assuming it’s all accurate. .Thanks

      • Athena

        Wow, so much misinformation here about Porphyria. I have Porphyria, I am not allergic to garlic. Triggers for a Porphyria attack can be anything from household cleaners to medication. We do not have a “taste for blood”. That is just outlandishly wrong. There is one type of Porphyria that has manifestations in the teeth, but it does not cause “fangs” as this person has imagined.

        Also for those who cared to read this far, the issues with sunlight do not occur in all manifestations of Porphyria. Those manifestations being HCP, VP, PCT, EEP, CEP, HEP.

        This is a real disease and not some fairy tale come to life. It is one that comes with stigma attached from people just like the one that wrote the very misinformed story above. Instead of making things up about a disease, read about it and try to understand it from a medical perspective, and not one that was invented in the minds of uneducated and bigoted people. It is this type of poor understanding of health and body mechanics that caused persecution of the mentally and physically challenged for centuries.