Vampire. A fictional character based on the 1897 novel by Bram Stoker. Though Stoker did not invent the character of Dracula, he popularized it through his Victorian work, which was written as a series of diary entries and letters. Stoker had named the character after the notoriously brutal Vlad III Tepes, also known as Vlad the Impaler, a ruler of Walachia (now southern Romania), whose epithet was Dracula (“Son of the Dragon”). Vlad was said to have put to death 20,000 men, women, and children by impaling them upright on stakes. Historically, the name Dracula is believed to have been derived from a secret fraternal order of knights called the Order of the Dragon.
As the legend goes, Dracula lived under the guise of an aristocratic count who would lure unsuspecting victims to his castle in Transylvania, Romania. Once he captured his prisoners, Dracula would consume their blood and drain their life force. His prey would not die in the process, but rather become zombie-like creatures of the night.Over the years, the character of Dracula reached wide renown in the horror genre, portrayed with varying degrees of sympathy and repulsion thanks to a starring role in more than 160 films, most notably in the 1930s and 1940s by Universal Studios