Happy Halloween! Though on the off chance your spooky night goes slightly wrong, we're bringing you an excerpt from the new book How to Kill a Vampire: Fangs in Folklore, Film and Fiction by Liisa Ladouceur. Part culture guide and all practical guide, Ladouceur lays out the rules of vampire engagement. Here, she outlines the uses of crucifixes, holy water and other sacred objects, dispelling myths and establishing facts citing sources from Bram Stroker to Buffy.
Vampire: “Ha ha! Garlic don’t work, boys!”
Edgar Frog: “Try the holy water, death breath!”
—The Lost Boys
Traditionally, vampires fear religious symbols. The sacred objects most commonly used for protection are Christian: water blessed by a priest, the cross or crucifix and the holy Eucharist or “Host,”—a consecrated unleavened bread or wafer meant to represent the body of Jesus Christ. These are key items in any vampire killing kit and have been used to great effect by many a fictional slayer, sometimes to kill but mostly to repel or maim.
In Stoker’s Dracula, the crucifix plays a significant role in helping the characters evade vampire attacks. Early in the story, a superstitious gypsy forces a rosary on businessman Jonathan Harker for protection after hearing he is en route to visi …