From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Vampires are mythological or folkloric beings that subsist on human and/or animal lifeforce. In most cases, they are reanimated corpses who feed by draining and consuming the blood of living beings. In folklore, the term usually refers to the blood-drinking humans of Eastern European legends, but the term is often applied to similar legendary creatures from other regions and cultures. The characteristics of vampires vary widely among these different traditions. Some cultures also have stories of non-human vampires, including real animals such as bats, dogs, spiders, and mythical creatures such as the chupacabra.
Vampirism is the practice of drinking blood from a person or animal. In folklore and popular culture, the term refers to a belief that one can gain supernatural powers by drinking human blood. The historical practice of vampirism can generally be considered a more specific and less commonly occurring form of cannibalism. The consumption of another's blood (or flesh) has been used as a tactic of psychological warfare intended to terrorize the enemy, and can be used to reflect various spiritual beliefs.