“As the vampire capes are dusted off once again for innumerable Halloween parties, it’s worth reminding ourselves about the contrast between modern “vampotainment” and the genuine terror inspired by the vampires of folklore.
For hundreds of years, vampire beliefs had a vital sociological function. The vampire was often the prime scapegoat for death or disease (and occasionally even for severe weather). Exhuming the person who had died most recently, peasants might find (or claim to find) the corpse undecayed. This would then be judged a vampire, and destroyed by various means, from religious exorcism to staking, decapitation and burning.”
The rest of the article can be read for free on the Times Higher Education website.