Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ancient Vampire on the Prowl in Serbia

Eastern Europe is home to the original vampire myth that inspired John Polidori and Bram Stoker. While the modern vampire fiction canon has incorporated a number of foreign elements, such as the incredible speed that was first described in the works of Anne Rice, mentioning Transylvania still evokes the vampire in the popular imagination. Bram Stoker's Dracula is the most famous vampire of all time, having been featured in countless films, and in real life the legend lives on in that part of the world. Recently, villagers in the Serbian town of Zarozje fear that a local vampire named Sava Savanovic may resume his attacks after lying dormant for several centuries.

Legend has it he would kill and drink the blood of the peasants who came to grind their grain at his watermill on the Rogańćica river. A local family bought the building in the 1950s and re-opened it as a profitable tourist attraction. But they were so terrified by what may be lurking within that they refused to go near it — even to perform repairs. Recent trouble began when the old mill collapsed due to decades of neglect.

Now that the mill lies in a pile of rotted wood, everyone is terrified. Particularly since mayor Miodrag Vujetic told Orange UK there had been numerous reports of "strange growls, neither animal nor human" coming from the mill, along with sightings of a "dark tall individual" standing next to the mill in the "dead of night." "People are worried, everybody knows the legend of this vampire and the thought that he is now homeless and looking for somewhere else and possibly other victims is terrifying people. We are all frightened," Vujetic said.

An interesting study was done years ago showing that claims of vampire attacks coincided with tuberculosis outbreaks. The disease attacks the lungs in such a way that its victims seem to slowly waste away as if the life were draining out of them. Furthermore, they often cough up blood which is found around the mouth. Garlic, thought to ward off vampires, was also used as an herbal medicine for treating coughs and other respiratory problems. Nonetheless, the idea of an undead fiend rising from the grave to drink the blood of the living appears to be especially intriguing to the imagination based on its longevity in popular culture. One wonders if any scientific evidence supporting the existence of this Serbian vampire could be collected, or if it's all just based on a story from long ago.

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