Asian Horror Encyclopedia: V



Vampire Cat of Nabeshima : This tale is retold in Davis’s Myths and Legends of Japan and Hurwood’s Passport to the Supernatural.  The vampire cat in question was killed, and it possessed the body of the Prince of Hizen’s lover, O-Toyo.  The Prince became ill as the cat drained his strength but the vigilance of his retainers disrupted her evil spell caused her to flee, meeting her death in the local mountains.  The internationally acclaimed film, Kuroneko (Black Cats, 1968) was based on the vampire cat theme.  See also Cats, Phantom.

Vampire Hunter D : Kikuchi Hideyuki’s long series of vampire novels.  Published in 1983, the first book establishes the series in a far future post nuclear holocaust world.  Humanity has degenerated is largely prey for the an aristocratic class of vampires and other supernatural creatures.  To defend itself, humanity consists of different groups of hunters, such as werewolf hunters.   The highest class is vampire hunter.   Vampire Hunter D is a mysterious, romantic figure, available for hire , and he is engaged by the beautiful Doris Lang, to avenge her father’s death.  This book inspired nearly a dozen sequels, two anime movies, and a number of Yoshitaka Amano’s artbooks. 

Vampire Princess Miyu : Kakinōchi Karumi’s novelization of this internationally recognized manga and. anime appear in 1990.  Illustrated by the author who did the original manga, it tells Miyu’s early story, her stuggle against the Shinma and her search for deserving victims of her blood craving.  An interesting twist on the vampire legend, slightly reminiscent of Vampirella, who also had a male sidekick and a conscience.

Vampires : While vampires are oddly absent from traditional Japanese, they have made up for the lack with modern tales of kyuuketsuki, the blood sucker.  Vampirism is common is China supernatural tales but this did not take root in Japan.

Japanese literary historian Asahiko Sunaga stated that vampires did not appear in Japanese literature until 1930. In that year, Edogawa Rampo’s Vampire appeared as well as Konosuke Hinatsu’s essay on vampires and Masayuki Jo’s short story, “Vampire.”

Modern vampires include Hammer films inspired vampire movies and many appears in manga, the best known are Vampire Hunter D and Vampire Princess Miyu, which merited its own entry in Melton’s encyclopedic Vampire Book. 

Vampires, Chinese : In China, vampires-like beings. are called kuei. The China that believe that a human has two soul, a superior, hun, and an inferior called, po.   The hun (yang energy) usually leaves the body on death, but the po (yin) remains behind, especially if the decreased has unfinished business on Earth.  The po can animate a part of a human body, especially a skull, but typically, it reanimates a whole corpse before the initial burial.  Such a creature is a called a chiang-shi.

One of the odd characteristics that sunlight and moonlight give the chiang-shi strength.  It needs the yang energy of the light to reanimate the whole corpse.  Interestingly enough, moonlight reanimates a vampire in John Polidori’s “Vampire: A Fragment”, written in Europe in the early 19th Century.

Chinese vampires resemble the classic Nosferatu with there long claws and fiercely glaring eyes.  Chinese vampires often acquire the ability to fly without the necessity of transforming into a bat.

The chiang-shih appears frequently in Chinese literature.  One prominent instance is the “The Resuscitated Corpse” tale from P’u Sung-ling;s Liaozhai (Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio).  It’s yet another haunted inn story with a newly dead and newly fanged daughter of the innkeeper rising to feast on the sleeping travelers.  One was unable to sleep and fled, the vampire in hot pursuit.  He cleverly made the vampire run into a tree, killing her.  She dug her long fingernails so deep into the trunk that they could not free them.  The daughter’s fingernails and fangs are two classic hallmarks of the vampire.

One unique characteristic of the Chinese vampire is that is has green hair.  In Vampires, Death and Burial, the author explains that  mosses going on the corpses gave rise to this strange feature.  Willoughby-Meade also cites a Dr. de Groot’s explanation of fungi growing on the cotton grave-clothes.  Green has often been associated with horror.  Original prints of the movie Frankenstein had a scenes tinted green to achieved a more lurid effect.

Vampire story is from Yuan Mei’s Tzu Puh Yu in which a scholar wife’s found her husband’s headless body in bed.  She was charged with murder but was released when was discovered that her husband was indeed a vampire.  The corpse was burned and the woman went free.

Another vampire tale from the Tzu Puh Yu has the corpse sitting up in his coffin like Poe’s Ligeia or numerous other gothic horrors.   A corpse’s rigor mortis is an obvious source of vampire anxiety and the constricting muscles of the dead give rise to a universal fear of the reanimated corpse, sitting up before the horrified stares of the funeral watch.

The Liao zhai has one of the most famous Chinese vampire tales, “The In at Ts’ai Tien”.  Four travelers sleep in a room where the inn-keepers recently deceased daughter lay.  The daughter’s vampiric activity nearly does in the four but one is saved through his nocturnal vigilance.

One of the more recent occurrences of vampirism dates from 1761 near Beijing, where a female vampire name Chang entrapped unwary travelers at the crossroads where she had hanged herself.   In her illusory road house, the illusion of her 18 year-old self enticed the travelers to stay and be fed upon.  When she delayed an imperial message with her erotic vampire activities, the authorities return to unearth her coffin and destroy her blood engorged corpse.

In an interesting variation of the legend, the Chinese vampire is kept at bay by the ringing of a copper bell.  In the West, bells are thought to dispel evil, which explains their frequent use in churches.

Willoughby-Meade pointed out the Chinese vampires closely resemble their Eastern European counterparts in three main points.  First, they are almost entirely nocturnal creatures, unable to stand the life-giving glare of the sun on their nefarious work.  Second,  they have the power to assume different forms, as magical creatures or graveyard animals or even mist like their Hungarian counterparts.  Thirdly, they have the power to immobilize and entrap strong-minded and physically powerful people with their hypnotic powers or paralyzing cold breath. 

The differences are equally significant.  Chinese vampires do not seem to transmit vampirism to their victims, nor do the Chinese magicians dabbling in the black arts seem likely to be stricken by or become a vampire.

Vampires, Malaysian :  The vampire has two manifestations in Malaysia: the langsuyar and the pontianak.  Originally the langsuyar was a very beautiful woman who a had a stillborn baby.  The woman flew off into the trees.  She is denoted by her ankle-length black hair, green robe and her long fingernails, a Malaysia indicator of female pulchritude.  The langsuyar sucks the blood of infants through a hole in the back of her neck, hidden by her copious hair. 

The pontianak is curiously complimentary to  the langsuyar.  It’s a stillborn child that transformed into an owl-like creature.  The distinction between the two has become blurred over the years and with the variations of Indonesian, Malay and Javanese lore.  In Java, the female vampire, usually called the langsuyar, is also called the pontianak. 

The Hong Kong-based movie company, the Shaw Brothers, establish a film company in Malaysia in 1947 that was noted for the 1956 film, Pontianak.  It has a hunch-backed woman who turns into a beautiful vampire, the pontianak. 

Vanished Faces : Danish writer, Tom Kristensen’s short story in Oriental Tales of Terror is a modern update of the Japanese folktale about a class of  faceless creatures.  One of the most prominent of these tales was recorded in Lafcadio Hearn’s Kwaidan, “Mujina”.

Vetala : Evil spirits in Hindu mythology.  Demonic in appearance, vetala infests and reanimates human corpses.  When not in corpses, they live inside stones and are known to be tricksters.

Visu : Rip Van Winkle of old Japan.