Vampires have varied a bit over the course of the past few decades of fiction, but they never seem to get too weird. There's a simple reason for this: We have to want to have sex with them. Yeah, whether we're talking about Anne Rice vampires, Twilight vampires, or True Blood vampires (or even some of the bolder characters from Dracula), all that talk about penetration and exchanging body fluids gets very sexual, which means stories rarely show bloodsuckers to be as grotesque as the imagination allows. 

If you want your vampires weirder, look at other cultures' versions of the myth. Take the Jiangshi, Chinese vampires first documented during the Qing Dynasty but possibly going back much earlier. The legend of the Jiangshi makes full use of the idea that vampires are dead. Their flesh rots, and they suffer from rigor mortis. That means they're too stiff to walk normally, instead getting around by hopping. Indeed, they are known as "Chinese hopping vampires." Their chief weakness, probably, is collapsing due to sheer embarrassment. 

In many ways, Jiangshi are more like zombies than vampires. But they rest in coffins, and they seek to suck out your life force. Below is a picture of some people wearing Jiangshi costumes. We also found many photos of cosplayers dressed as something called Jiangshi Shuten Douji, but that is not relevant, and also not safe for work. 

jiangshi costume

Dick Thomas Johnson

You can recognize Jiangshi from their dress sense, which is 250 years out of date. 

Next, let's mention the most ridiculous vampire of all. The Romani in Kosovo believed that pumpkins and watermelons may transform into vampires if left long enough untouched. Possibly, the myth of the vampire watermelon comes from how certain fruits take on the appearance of bloody skin as they age. Alternatively, this myth is so ridiculous that no one truly believed it, and the Romani told it to visiting scholars as a joke.

Allow us to quote the Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology: "Fortunately, the vampire pumpkin does not actually attack anyone in a physical way, making it quite possibly the most harmless of all vampires; however, it does ooze blood and roll about on the floor making an annoying 'brr, brr, brr' sound." The encyclopedia is not a work of comedy, and this description is based on the research of ethnographer Tatomir Vukanović.

watermelon

William Bout/Unsplash

And the research of Leo Gallagher, Vampire Hunter

Last up for today are the Cihuateteo of Aztec legend. The Cihuateteo live in the underworld then come to Earth on five specific days of the year to attack children and other victims. Though they drink your blood and paralyze you, this does not turn you into a vampire. Instead, a Cihuateteo is created when a mother dies in childbirth. The Aztecs saw childbirth as a battle between a mother and the gods. Those who succeeded got a child; those who died became Cihuateteo. 

A terracotta statue depicting an El Zapotal cihuateotl.

Vassil/Wiki Commons

And received a belt made of living snakes.

This was, you might say, not a terribly respectful way of remembering women who died in labor. The Aztecs imagined such women as evil spirits, with the breasts and stomach of someone who has just given birth but childless and therefore eager to replace the kid who never was. To that end, she'd kidnap children, or seduce men to get pregnant once more. 

See, we knew it: There's no getting around sex with vampires. It's a universal myth. Which explains why we've been seeing all those pumpkins with holes drilled in them. 

Top image: Vassil/Wiki Commons

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