Vampire hunters, also known as vampire slayers, are those heroes in fiction that destroy the evil vampire villains, as well as other supernatural beings like werewolves or witches. However, vampire slayers also have their place in history through folklore.
The typical slayer knows everything about vampires and other paranormal creatures; they are obsessed with them. Focusing on vampires, the hunters must have a thorough knowledge of vampires’ powers and their weaknesses, as well as how to slay them as this is the purpose of the vampire slayer. Most slayers are humans themselves, while others, particularly in fictional tales, are part vampire or have some sort of supernatural abilities.
Vampire slayers in folklore are real life people who work as either fulltime or semi-professional vampire slayers. This job came from the Balkans, which includes Serbian, Romani, and Bulgarian social groups.
It is known that in places where people have a strong association with something, then they will have several names to describe that thing, such as the Samis from the frigid Arctic Circle have hundreds of words for snow. In Bulgarian society, there were dozens of names for vampire hunting beings including vampirdzhiya, glog, svetocher, and dzhadazhiya.
People who are best suited to be a vampire slayer in the Balkan region have a set of predetermining characteristics. A vampire hunter is the child of a woman who was impregnated by a woman, which is known as a dhampir or vampirović.
They can also simply be born on a Saturday, and this is said to allow them to have a third sight that allows them to see people who are invisible, which means vampires and other supernatural monsters. For dhampirs, these vampire/human hybrids were fed uncooked lamb that had been slayed by a wolf so to develop an inner strength to not fear the invisible creatures they could see.
Slovakians and Croatians in particular had a village vampire slayer who was called a kresnik. The kresnik would transform into an animal during the night to fight off vampires, or kudlaks, and other supernatural creatures of the night.
One of the most famous vampire slayers is Professor Abraham Van Helsing, who is included in the classic vampire novel Dracula written by Bram Stoker in 1897. Van Helsing has reemerged in more recent fiction through the silver screen in the movies including Van Helsing released in 2004 starring Hugh Jackman as the vampire hunter and Kate Beckinsale as Anna Valerious who is Helsing’s assistant. An anime television series Hellsing from Japan refers to Van Helsing in the story line, which is based on governmental organization that is manned by trained vampire hunting professionals.
Other films that are based on vampire hunters include From Dusk Till Dawn in 1996 starring George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Juliette Lewis, and Harvey Keitel. An even earlier film, The Lost Boys, was a blockbuster hit during the 1980s, starring Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland, Jami Gertz, Corey Feldman and Corey Haim.
A popular television show from the 1990s is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which stars Sarah Michelle Gellar as a vampire hunter. A spinoff from that show titled Angel is based on a vampire named Angel who was Buffy’s lover who has since turned against his own kind as a vampire slayer. In popular culture there are several video games based on vampire hunters including “Vampire Hunter: Darkstalkers’ Revenge” and “BloodRayne.”
While vampire hunters were deemed the official hunter of vampires, it was also most common that the hunter be the killer as well. Ways to kill vampires are well known even in today’s culture. Stabbing a vampire in the heart with a wooden stake, preferably of yew or oak, is said to be necessary to get at the heart of the vampire within the physical body it has overtaken.
Burning vampires, in particular with sun light, is also a well-established method of extinguishing the vampire. Due to the nature of the vampire’s condition of being sensitive to sun, as exposure will cause hyperdilation of the eyes, seizures, and severe skin burns, being exposed to the sun is a popular way to kill vampires in fiction.
However, while the sunlight does not set the vampire on fire literally, it surely would be a way to debilitate the vampire so to finish it off. Using fire to kill a vampire would also be an appropriate way to destroy the vampire.
Another common idea that is used often in movies and books is to kill a vampire by shooting them with a silver bullet. After a vampire is slain the head of the vampire is often cut off to ensure that the vampire cannot come back to life, just in case the method of killing is insufficient for some reason. Also, just to ensure the greatest chance that the vampire will die, the hunter will have all of the tools and weapons to be used in the hunt blessed by a priest using holy water, which is also hated by vampires.