A vampire is a supernatural creature that has to drink the blood of humans or animals in order to sustain its immortal life. A vampire is a living corpse, commonly referred to as the undead. They were once a living, human being, who through various circumstances became a victim of vampirism.
- 1 Characteristics of a vampire
- 2 Powers of the vampire
- 3 Becoming a vampire
- 4 Destroying a vampire
- 5 Curing a vampire
- 6 List of known vampires
Characteristics of a vampire
Becoming a vampire has an adverse effect on an individual’s psyche. As they are considered to be creatures of black magic, it is not uncommon for a vampire to commit acts of deliberate evil. The vampire Barnabas Collins, while by nature a moral person, has routinely committed acts that he would likely not engage in had he not suffered from the curse of vampirism. An example of this would be the abduction and subjugation of Maggie Evans in 1967 (230). Barnabas has also been known to be violently abusive to his servant, Willie Loomis, sometimes beating him across the face with his silver-handled cane (230).
Some of this loss of humanity may be due to the fact that in order to sustain its existence a vampire must attack living people or animals for blood, and if need be to protect itself from mortals who might identify or who have already discovered its true nature - often by committing murder. Barnabas, for example, murdered Dr. Woodard to prevent him from revealing his true nature (341).
Blood is the only component of a vampire's diet. If a vampire fails to drink blood, their body will become severely weak. A vampire's hunger for blood can be controlled up to a point, but eventually, it must feed. Vampires are capable of feeding on animals, but humans are their preferred prey.
In the 2012 film the strong implication is that vampires cannot feed without killing.
Existence during daylight
During the day, a vampire is for all intents and purposes dead. As such, it is extremely vulnerable to any who might seek to destroy it - for example, on a number of occasions Barnabas awoke in his coffin in the cellar to find someone waiting for him (250, 432, 456, 661, 1069).
Due to this, vampires often create servants to protect them during the day.
Vampires cast no reflection in mirrors (288). (704), (718) However, in several episodes Angelique was a vampire seen in various mirrors (559, 575, 576, 606). Barnabas himself was reflected in mirrors (709), (744), (957).
The 2012 film shows Barnabas able to function during the day, but only by avoiding sunlight.
Powers of the vampire
The vampire has an array of supernatural abilities. All vampires possess superhuman durability, healing, stamina, and strength. They are immortal and unaging and will live forever unless destroyed.
A vampire possesses two fangs, which they can use to puncture the jugular vein of their victims and drink their blood. Vampires also possess the ability to adequately conceal these fangs when they are in the company of those who are unaware of the vampire’s supernatural nature. How this is done exactly is unknown, but apparently the fangs are retractable (227). Victims of vampires are almost always under the control of the one who bit them. Victims are not always turned into vampires. It is only when the vampire takes enough blood from its victim over a long period of time, that they are absolutely drained, then the transformation takes effect. But if a vampire takes a victim only in order to satisfy its bloodlust and not directly transform them into a fellow vampire, then that victim is in danger of dying from natural causes such as blood loss, shock, infection, or even asphyxiation. Most of the women whom Barnabas Collins attacked on the Collinsport docks died natural deaths this way.
A vampire can transform another human being into a vampire. Once this is done, the secondary vampire is traditionally subservient to the primary vampire, mainly because the primary vampire is stronger and more experienced than its unnatural offspring. This is not always the case, however, and some vampires, such as Megan Todd and Dirk Wilkins, have been known to turn against their masters.
A vampire has the ability to hypnotize other human beings. In order to do this, they must stare into the eyes of their victim. Once the vampire drinks blood from their victim on at least one occasion, he is able to exert this power at will. Once this is done, the victim will fall into a malaise and the vampire can command the thrall to do its bidding from a distance (217). Julia Hoffman is the only known victim of a vampire who successfully resisted the psychic "call" of the creature that bit her (566), but the effort evidently proved exhausting. Curiously, on at least one occasion a vampire has been known to summon a human being they had not in fact bitten at that time - Barnabas Collins, whose spirit had been transported to his original body in 1897 (at that time still chained in its coffin), sought to summon someone to release him (701) and later to let Amy Collins know he needed help. If a victim is isolated from the vampire and is not bitten again for some time, the "spell" fades. This control also vanishes if the vampire is destroyed (571) or cured (468), along with the tell-tale bite marks and any memory of what they knew. In the 2012 film, Barnabas' hypnotism involves the movements of his fingers.
A vampire has the ability to shape-shift into the form of a vampire bat. Although the bat in question is larger than the average vampire bat, it is limited by the physical restrictions commonly attributed to such an animal. (Note: In the WB Pilot and the 2012 film vampires evidently cannot shape-shift).
Evidently, vampires have a kind of ability to teleport, vanishing from one place and appearing elsewhere (661, 781). Not all vampires demonstrated this power, however, and it apparently is subject to odd limitations. For example, Barnabas Collins could not use this power from within his coffin, nor could the vampire Roxanne Drew. Angelique did this often when she was a vampire, but had lost her powers as a witch (575). Tom Jennings may have been able to do it, had he not been weakened by the makeshift cross Barnabas was holding over him (631).
When Barnabas killed Carl Collins in 1897, he was able to close the doors to the foyer from across the room. He was also able to keep them shut when Carl was desperately trying to open them (780). Whether or not this ability comes from the vampire curse or his prior magical knowledge is unknown.
A vampire appears to have an unnatural affinity when it comes to certain animals. Canines especially can perceive a vampire’s presence and recognize one as being something unnatural. It is possible that a vampire can maintain limited control over such animals and use them to suit their own purposes. Barnabas Collins was known to use packs of wild dogs for eerie effect as a means of frightening people (219, 224). Whether Barnabas was actually controlling these animals to behave in such a way, or whether the animals reacted of their own accord in his presence is unknown. The exact nature of the relationship between a vampire and certain animals remains a mystery.
Super Speed and Strength
In the Tim Burton version of the story, Barnabas demonstrated the power to move at extraordinary speed, so fast as to be almost invisible to the naked eye. This even extended to increase the speed at which he fell--otherwise he would have been unable to "catch up" with Victoria when she jumped from Widow's Hill. More, he showed enough strength to easily pick up a grown man with one hand. Though not shown with as much frequency as other vampiric powers, vampires also possessed inhuman strength in the original series. Prominent examples of this strength include Barnabas' offscreen bending of the iron bars in Dr. Woodard's office (242), and his ability to quickly strangle victims in the powerful, vice-like grip of his hand.
Becoming a vampire
There are two known ways of turning a human being into a vampire.
A powerful witch or warlock can enact a curse, which will transform a living person into a vampire. In almost all instances, this effect is permanent and the curse can only be lifted by the willful action of the original caster (405), although it is more difficult than expected - even when the one who placed the curse is strongly motivated (411).
A vampire can also be created through the wilful act of another vampire. If a vampire drinks blood from a human victim to the point of death, the victim will die and be reborn three nights later as one of the undead. These vampires are usually subservient to the vampire that created them, but there have been accounts where vampires have been shown to be rebellious against their masters. In House of Dark Shadows, for example, Carolyn Stoddard disobeyed Barnabas' orders to stay away from her fiance Todd.
The 2012 motion picture presents two other factors in becoming a vampire. Dr. Julia Hoffman evidently came close to success in her plan to become a vampire by transfusing Barnabas' blood into herself. Her mouth even showed fangs! Likewise both Barnabas and Victoria Winters each became vampires after committing suicide. He had been cursed, and she was also bitten by a vampire (Barnabas) so how much this impacted the outcome remains unclear.
Destroying a vampire
There are several known ways of confounding a vampire or destroying one permanently.
A sharpened weapon embedded into the heart of a vampire will destroy them. Traditionally, a wooden stake is the preferred tool for carrying out such a task, but any solid, sharpened object will do, such as a crossbow bolt. However, removing the stake (or another sharp object) from the vampire's heart will restore them to "life".
Exposure to sunlight will destroy a vampire. A vampire can only withstand direct solar radiation for a few seconds before he or she will be forced to find shelter.
By holding some form of a crucifix in front of a vampire, a potential victim can cause the vampire to halt, or even to turn and flee. A cross presented strongly enough can even cause a vampire to be unable to return to their coffin, destroying them at sunrise (631). Direct physical contact with a crucifix will severely burn a vampire, but will not destroy them. However, it is also a matter of record that at least twice vampires were trapped inside their coffins by placing a cross on their chest or on the inside lid of their coffins (460).
Water that has been blessed by a clergyman will burn a vampire if it makes contact with one. A sufficient supply of such water will likely destroy one entirely.
The 2012 motion picture established that a vampire's flesh bursts into flames at the touch of silver (one reason that Barnabas Collins sports an ivory-handled cane). This is only true for the 2012 motion picture, as in the original series and the 1991 revival, vampires can touch silver without any ill effect. Barnabas's wolf's head cane has a silver handle (which he used to fend off at least one werewolf). However, in the original series, it was stated that a silver bullet shot through the heart could destroy a vampire.
Curing a vampire
Angelique implored Diablos to cure her of her vampirism, saying that complete destruction would be better than this curse (628). He agreed to cure her if she could outwit Nicholas Blair, the Warlock who made her a vampire. Since she was later able to return (655, 664) we can assume he chose to cure her rather than destroying her.
The condition of vampirism is as much biological as it is mystical. As early as the 1960s, advancements in modern medicine succeeded in actually isolating diseased “vampire” cells from healthy ones (466-467). The process is a long and arduous one and requires multiple injections of a specially designed serum in order to have any cumulative effect. Thanks to the contributions of scientists such as Dr. Eric Lang and Dr. Julia Hoffman (490), the curse of vampirism can be successfully exorcised through scientific means. By all accounts, Barnabas Collins is the only existing beneficiary of this radical medical breakthrough (although Angelique schemed to use part of the process).
Once a vampire is cured, they are in effect human again. They can eat, breathe, and go out in the sunlight. They will also age naturally as their body adapts to the new healthy cells. However, a cured vampire is just as susceptible to the effects of vampirism as any other human. There is nothing about the process which states that a cured vampire cannot once again become one of the undead.
When a vampire is cured, evidently their victims lose all trace of their thralldom, in most cases losing all memory of the event.
List of known vampires
Original series continuity
- Angelique Collins (temporarily)
- Barnabas Collins (has been uncursed and semi-cured on several occasions)
- Dirk Wilkins
- Roxanne Drew
- Tom Jennings
- Megan Todd
Parallel Time continuity
Gold Key Comic book continuity
- Barnabas Collins
Paperback Library novel continuity
MGM movie continuity
- In House of Dark Shadows, Sheriff Patterson distributes silver bullets to his men when they are looking for Barnabas, and Professor Stokes was destroyed by Jeff Clark shooting him with silver bullets.
Revival series continuity
- In the revival series, Barnabas somehow prevented the full development of a set of photographs of Julia Hoffman's diary; the pictures turned out blurred and essentially useless. In the original series, neither Barnabas nor any other vampire displayed such an ability.
- The cremation of a destroyed vampire will prevent its revival, as the ghost of Sarah Collins pointed out to David when he feared Daphne might return.