Even hardcore vampire aficionados like myself admit that the subgenre is stale and stagnant. What we need is a fresh approach, a new spin on the mythos that de-romanticizes it. How about portraying them as springing from the ashes of the plagues that ravaged Europe between 1300 and 1700? And let’s call them “shroud-eaters.”
Nope, that’s not the beginning of a new indie flick; according to Reuters UK, it’s the backstory of a female skeleton that was recently unearthed in a mass grave from the Venetian plague of 1576 on Lazzaretto Nuovo, which lies around three km (2 miles) northeast of Venice and was used as a sanitorium for plague sufferers. What makes the dearly departed so special? She was buried with a brick jammed between her jaws, which researchers believe was done to prevent her from feeding — like a vampire — on other victims of the disease.
During the height of the “Black Death”, gravediggers reopening mass graves would sometimes come across bodies bloated by gas, with hair still growing, and blood seeping from their mouths and believe them to be still alive. The “undead” would then suck the remaining life from corpses until they acquired the strength to return to the streets again. As for the nickname, the shrouds used to cover the faces of the dead were often decayed by bacteria in the mouth, revealing the corpse’s teeth, and vampires became known as “shroud-eaters.”
“This is the first time that archaeology has succeeded in reconstructing the ritual of exorcism of a vampire,” anthropologist Matteo Borrini told Reuters by telephone. “This helps … authenticate how the myth of vampires was born.”
It’s certainly not as glamorous as Dracula and his ilk, but a talented filmmaker could do something pretty cool with this particular legend. And even if it sucks, at least we know eventually the lead actress is going to wind up like this:
A real beauty, isn’t she?
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