I first read Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire when I was a teenager in the early '90s. It was the perfect time to dive into a world of brooding vampires whose immortality was plagued with questions of morality. As these ethereally gorgeous undead creatures were trying to find themselves, so was a weird kid trapped in the suburbs. What a combination!
Those books would spark an interest in the nosferatu that still exists to this day, and has led to at least one vampiric tattoo. What I've found in my thorough consumption of all things vampire is that the myths and lore surrounding them are different based on who is telling their story. However, a few descriptors pop up more than others. One of them is the idea that a vampire cannot cross the threshold of someone's home without permission. Why do vampires have to be invited in? Perhaps they are polite.
Why do vampires have to be invited in? It's evil business.
According to The Vampire Book: Encyclopedia of the Undead, a seventeenth-century Greek vampirologist by the name of Leo Allatius was "possibly the first modern author to write a book on vampires." In 1645, he finished De Graecorum hodie quirundam opinationibus where he referenced the need for a vampire to be invited into a potential victim's home before they could enter.
Leo claimed that the undead would rise from their graves at night and travel from village to village knocking on various doors. While doing this, the vampire "calls aloud by name in a hoarse voice one who dwells within. If such a one answers he is lost; for assuredly he will die the next day. But if he does not answer he is safe."
The vampire's inability to walk freely into someone else's home is rooted in the concept of evil. Evil itself can exist in two ways — psychologically and spiritually — but the point of entry is the same for both. In either scenario, the victim must be willing to accept evil, either into their heart or into their hearths. In The Science of Vampires by Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D., Dracula scholar Elizabeth Miller noted that "once the commitment is made, it becomes a permanent fixture."
So-called real vampires don't need an invitation to come in.
As Dr. Ramsland points out in her book, there is evidence that some people do believe they are vampires. She refers to this as Vampire Personality Disorder, but is quick to mention this not in any version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders. "They thrive on the resources of those they encounter," she said, "draining them until they're empty, sometimes even bite or kill them, and move on in search of the next source."
Some examples of so-called vampire killers are Peter Kürten — the "Vampire of Düsseldorf"; Richard Chase — the "Vampire of Sacramento," and Bela Kiss — a Hungarian serial killer. All three men drank the blood of their victims, in what are often called lust murders. Though their methods and reasons differed, each seemed to get a sexual charge from this act.
Fictional or not, at some point vampires became less sinister and more sexy. The religious themes attached to their mythos fell away or simply became another sign to suss out a vampire. Versions of them have existed for thousands of years but if I may, there is one movie which posits an origin story I am fully behind. Do yourselves a favor and watch Dracula 2000 starring Gerard Butler as the titular Dracula. This is one vampire you will definitely invite in.