Through the Skin of One’s Teeth

“I was stopped by a vampire, a rotting old wreck It showed me its teeth and went straight for my neck.”

—Lauren Oliver in ‘Delirium’

The art of wearing lipstick was revolutionized by vampires. They moved over from the conventional formula of oils, waxes and emollients when they found out that their teeth could replace cutlery and blood could replace water at their dinner tables.

Yes, I am indeed talking about those creatures the silver screen portrays with bodies as spindly as needles, skin the pallid hue of curdled milk, eyes that can freeze you in place and canines that resemble an icicle.

To every diehard Twilight and Underworld fan, how about a little walk through the ages to explore the myths surrounding the undead?

  • Lady, you suck! (Mesopotamia)

Her accursed name is Lilith (yes like Jodelle Ferland in Case 39, only much worse). Some ascribe her as a sterile harlot, while others pronounce her Adam’s first wife whom he left in Hotel Heartbreak- sorry, Eden- for Eve. Perchance, she formed an alliance with the serpent while she waited on the population to explode. That having been done, she assumed the nature of a bloodsucker. Ignoring the wine she could have inebriated herself on at every banquet, she opted for the river of life that flows through mothers and their offspring. But she was- like every creature of her kind- terrified of the Ball of Fire and… amulets.

  • Stealing the Heart of a God and the Blood of a Man (Greece)

Zeus would seem like an insulator to physicists because he holds lightning bolts like lollipops and throws them about like paper rockets. But we don’t need a scientist to explain the art of cheating that our man here was a veteran at. Hera (Zeus’ wife) could be used as proof for a variation of Newton’s third law of motion: For every cheating husband, there is a cheesed off wife. Because Lamia took Zeus’ heart, Hera took Lamia’s progeny. Anger probably scorched Lamia like the sun and she resorted to suckling at children’s necks at night.

  • Beware of Being Bad (India)

Imagine a lonely soul with no place to go… but a body- the body of a person who is six feet underground. Sanskrit dubs them vetalas. Their lives- no, their afterlives­- are so messed up that they’re upside down, looking at the world from a different angle like the creatures they bear the most similitude to- bats. They are believed to be the spirits of bad guys and people whacked in the head who weren’t content with the silence and peace the grave had to offer that they broke out like criminals from prison to hang upside down from trees.

  • Hungary and Heresy (Hungary)

What must it feel like when your enemy spills about his enemies? The Hungarian Inquisition saw the interrogation of this pagan shaman who described a demon called the izcacus that was as loyal to the pagans as a dog is loyal to its owner when it comes to lunging at arch foes.

  • Anomalies and Abnormalities (Romania)

They say that too much of something is good for nothing. Well, meet this lot from Romania that were blessed or cursed with one too many hearts/souls/nipples/tails (makes you start to ponder on cross-breeding, doesn’t it?) and weirdly, extra hair. Also, if the mother looked at a black cat or was looked at by a female practicing the dark arts, the chances of being born an average mortal were slimmer than a porcupine’s spine. And if a person’s mane was the color of blood and his eyes the color of the firmament, then he was dreaded to be a fang-bearer.


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