Ever wonder when the first imaginary, blood-sucking, bat-shifting creature stepped into the light? Believe it or not, it wasn’t in Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight… but it also didn’t start with Dracula. So, where did the vampire originate?

The cheesy modern-day vampires

These days, the vampire narrative is pretty worn out. Ever heard of a little heartthrob movie called Twilight? What about The (cuddly) Count on Sesame Street? Heck, even Hotel Transylvania turned a bruting vampire into a caring, overprotective dad with an agenda to ruin his daughter’s love life. Big whoop. So, what happened to the terrifying vampire tales of the past?

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Bram Stoker’s Dracula certainly jarred the world when it was first released, and inspired some fairly scary vampire stories throughout the 20th Century. While many credit Dracula with being the earliest introduction of the vampire as a character, it was far from the first text to mention the horrors of a blood-sucking being. But if not with Dracula, where did the vampire narrative begin?

These fairies were drunk on blood

Long before Dracula ever hit the shelves, Scottish folklore painted the first image of a vampire-like creature, referred to as a ‘baobhan sith.’ Rather than being screeching bats, however, these vampires were beautiful fairies that sucked the blood out fo their victims. Yes, this is somehow more horrifying, and no, the terror doesn’t end there.

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Baobhan siths were like sirens of the sea on steroids. These fairy women were all about the art of seduction, often appearing in a beautiful form before brutally killing their victims. They’d stab them with their sharp nails (presumably styled by a very sadistic manicurist) and drink their blood dry. Pretty spooky, right? In comparison, Dracula doesn’t hold a torch to these sociopathic forest-dwellers.

Dracula has nothing on these sociopathic creatures

While Dracula was able to transform into a measly bat, baobhan siths had some crazy shift-shifting abilities. They could become the whole circus: wolves, ravens, crows, and more. Also, Dracula could be taken out pretty easily. A wooden stake through the heart? Easy peasy. To kill a baobhan sith, you better be prepared to lock them in their coffin…if they didn’t completely obliterate you first.

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One thing that makes them seem a little mild in comparison to Dracula is the fact that they only needed to satiate their hunger for human blood once yearly. But considering they did so through seducing strangers, stabbing them with their fingernails, and drinking blood from their wounds, they hold the crown for ‘most disturbing murders’ for sure.