Vampiric folklore has been a fertile are of inspiration for millennia.
The sheer number of popular cultural icons inspired by the infamous bloodsuckers is enough to cement them as a staple in the realms of human nightmare. From Hammer horror to teen romance, our cinematic landscape would be empty without the Vampire. Yet despite this popularity, there are still some terrifying and bizarre vampiric creatures that have missed out on public representation and deserve more recognition. Our own Europe-centric experience is just a trifling taste of the full feast of folklore from around the world. Below are a few of the odder specimens.
Penanggalans are vampires of Southeast Asian legends. During the day they appear as beautiful women with seemingly normal everyday lives. Often, they are employed as midwives. But, at night, their heads detach and fly away, dangling their organs below, while their body rests in a bath of vinegar. Penanggalans thirst for blood like any other vampire but consume it through long spectral tongues. Their dish of choice is children and pregnant women.
Rather than garlic or stakes, the way to destroy a Penanggalan is to fill up the empty body with broken glass so when the head returns it slices and tears itself up reattaching to its body. A truly grisly and otherworldly creature.
Unlike your typical vampire, the Asema hunts as a big ball of blue light. According to the legend, Asemas would walk around during the day as a regular human. But, at night, they would shed their skin and fly away as a ball of blue light to enter the homes of its victim and drain their blood.
The way to destroy this South American Vampire was to wait for it to leave its skin then dose it with salt to shrink it. That way the Asema could not return to its human body. Garlic was also apparently a good way to keep them at bay.
The Yara-ma-yha-who is a vampiric creature found in Australian Aboriginal legend. This small frog-like man has red skin, an oversized head with a large mouth and no teeth. Instead, it has suckers on the ends of its hands and feet.
The Yara-ma-yha-who lives in fig trees and hunts unsuspecting travellers. It will drop onto the victim while they rest and use its suckers to drain their blood. In the end, it swallows the person whole, washes them down with some water, and enjoys a nap. When the Yara-ma-yha-who wakes up, it will spit back up the victim. The victim, alive but left shorter than before, will then play dead until the creature goes to sleep again, before making their escape.