So just what it is about vampires? The concept of a malevolent creature sucking the life force from its victims has existed for thousands of years, but our current cultural obssession would not have happened were it not for the mass vampirism hysteria in Europe during the 18th Century. Particular folkloric beliefs came to a peak, and reports of deaths caused by vampires were numerous and widespread. This was most concentrated in the rural areas of Eastern Europe; offical records demonstrate how seriously these cases were taken. People would regularly dig up graves of suspected vampires to drive stakes through the heart of the corpse, and respected scholars wrote books discussing whether there may be truth in the superstitions. The panic died down after Maria Theresa of Austria ordered her own investigation, which concluded that the panic had no grounding in fact. By now, though, it seems enough had been done for the "timeless Gothic eternity of the vampires" to have been born. With the Industrial Age following hot on the heels of the Age of Enlightenment, the European folklore being left behind became popular fodder for the Gothic literature of the 19th Century. The birth of cinema came at a time when vampires were still very much in the public consciousness, and Dracula has since been portrayed on screen more than any other character. Hammer Horror, Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, The Twilight Saga, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries...it seems the public's desire for vampires is as insatiable as theirs may be for us. It is perhaps this that explains their constant popularity; as well as fear, there is an attraction towards them. The link between sex and death has always been a major cultural theme, and what better embodiment is there than a creature who roams the night wanting to feed on you in such an intimate way?