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10 Strange Vampires from Around the World

Think vampires are all suave, seductive blood-suckers? Guess again...

10 Strange Vampires from Around the World

Most people have got a pretty solid grasp on what a vampire is – an undead bloodsucker with a loathing of garlic and a penchant for sleeping in coffins.

What you’re perhaps not aware of is how many variations of vampire there are. Every continent in the world has its own unique brand of vampires – with some legends dating back centuries.

Here are a few of the lesser-known vampires – ranging from the bizarre to the downright grisly.

1. The Leyak

Tropenmuseum, part of the National Museum of World Cultures [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This vampirical creature hails from the beautiful island of Bali – but trust me, there’s nothing attractive about this beast at all. The Leyak consists of a flying head, with body organs hanging off of its gory, severed neck. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the face is the stuff of nightmares – bulging eyes, tusks, straggly black hair, and an abnormally long tongue.

Rather than relying on a good old set of fangs, the Leyak puts its unnatural tongue to good use, sucking out the blood of foetuses or newborn babies. If they can’t get their (metaphorical) hands on a baby, they’ll make do with corpses from local graveyards instead.

Like all good vampires, the Leyak is a shapeshifter, with the power to appear like an ordinary human or a flying pig.

2. The Asasabonsam

Imagining a vampire is bad enough. Now imagine a vampire with creepy iron hooks instead of feet – and you’ve got the Asasabonsam. This highly unpleasant vampire lurks in the forests of Ghana, hanging from tree-branches and waiting for unwary victims to pass by. Once it spots you, it drives its hooks into your shoulders, lifts you into the trees, then eats you alive.

This creature isn’t too fussy when it comes to its meals – if it can’t get hold of a tasty human, it’s more than happy with animals instead. And for some random reason, it likes to eat the thumbs first. Who knows, perhaps they’re the tastiest part?

3. The Ekimmu

Generally speaking, a sudden burst of wind isn’t too terrifying. However, the ancient Mesopotamians would have disagreed heavily. They believed in the Ekimmu, or “evil wind gusts” – the souls of the dead who travelled in the breeze and liked to suck out the life force of their victims.

According to legend, you could become an Ekimmu if you died in battle, were murdered, were too young, starved, drowned, or didn’t respect the gods enough. In short, there were alarmingly many ways to become one of the windy army of the undead, which must have unnerved the living Mesopotamians a lot. Think it’s just an ancient myth? Some still believe that they exist today, roaming the sewers and abandoned buildings.

4. The Neuntoter

Brace yourself, because this is a really unpleasant brand of the undead. The Neuntoter comes from Germany and doesn’t get off on drinking blood – instead, it likes to spread death in the form of deadly disease. The name translates as the “killer of nine”, as Germans believed it took a dead body nine days to turn into one of these vile creatures.

It’s the appearance of the Neuntoter that is really a thing of nightmares. It’s coated from head to toe in open wounds and seeping, pus-filled sores. Not quite like your standard sexy Hollywood vampire, then… shame!

5. The Asema

The Asema from Suriname is a particularly unusual vampire. By day, it looks like a human. However, when the sun goes down, this demonic creature sheds its human skin and becomes a sinister blue ball of light. Gliding through the air, it’s able to sneak into people’s houses and drain their blood. Yikes!

There are ways to ward off the Asema. Like the common vampire, it doesn’t like garlic, and apparently freaks out at the sight of seeds and nails. So there you go, make sure you stock up on those items if you ever happen to visit Suriname!

6. The Brahmaparusha

The Brahmaparusha is a classic vampire in that it likes to drink your blood. However, that’s where the similarities end. Rather than necking the red stuff all at once, it drains your blood carefully into a skull, to be sipped at leisure at a later date. If that wasn’t bad enough, it also removes your brain, which is apparently a bit of a delicacy.

But it doesn’t stop there. The Brahmaparusha is also a bit of a show-off and likes to display his murderous ways in the goriest way possible – by wrapping its victims’ intestines around its entire body. Sadly, this vampire isn’t satisfied with just the one person – it has a rapacious appetite and likes to devour several poor folk before it calls it a night.

7. The Soucouyant

The Soucouyant is a Caribbean vampire, who looks like a perfectly innocent old woman when the sun is up. Come nightfall, this monstrous creature shows its true colours, shedding its skin and emerging as a fireball.

Like the Asema, this nasty ball of light can sneak through even the tiniest of spaces and into your home, where it then gets to work sucking your blood. Normally, it doesn’t kill its victims, but if it drains too much blood by mistake, there’s a risk that the corpse will rise as a fellow Soucouyant. Want to defeat one of these nasty vampires? You’ll need to track down their discarded skin and sprinkle it with salt, which prevents the fiery Soucouyant from slipping it back on. Good luck with that.

8. The Penanggal

Hey, who needs a whole body when you can suck your victim’s blood using just your head? This is clearly the philosophy of the Malaysian Penanggal – a seemingly attractive female who likes to remove her head and let it fly out into the night, draining the blood of its victims.

Interestingly, some women actually choose to be a Penanggal – using black magic to become as beautiful as possible, whilst also becoming one of the most god-awful supernatural creatures in existence. These days, plastic surgery is probably the preferred option.

9. The Yara-Ma-Yha-Who

This vampire not only has one of the best names, but is also one of the strangest looking. According to aboriginal legend, the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who looks like an unusually short man, with red skin, a huge head and a worryingly oversized mouth.

It doesn’t have any teeth, so instead, it drains its victims of its blood using suckers in its fingers and toes. Afterwards, it gobbles them up whole. Like the Asasabonsam, this vampire lurks in the trees, leaping down on people who pass by underneath. And, like the classic vampire we know and love, its unfortunate victims rise again, becoming Yara-Ma-Yha-Whos themselves.

10. Callicantzaros

According to Greek legend, any children born between Christmas and Twelfth Night were at risk of becoming a dreaded Callicantzaros. These ‘feast-blasted’ individuals were destined to become one of the undead – a manic creature with long, talon-like fingernails, who grabbed its victims and ripped them to shreds.

This belief was so entrenched in Greek culture, that many parents used to take extreme measures to save their ‘feast-blasted’ children. Their solution to the problem? Dangle the newborn baby over a fire until its toenails were singed. Hopefully not too many tiny toes were burnt in this process!

fantasylistfact or fiction
L.A Banks
L.A Banks
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L.A Banks

Hello! I'm an experienced copywriter, published author (The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost) and all-round film buff and music obsessive. If it's weird, you can guarantee I'll like it. Website: www.lucy-banks.co.uk

See all posts by L.A Banks