Halloween is just around the corner, and perhaps the only thing more frightening to me than the fact that I have YET to figure out what my costume will be this year is the sobering realization that vampires–real life blood suckers and night stalkers–do exist among us.

Granted, with the popularity surrounding books, films and television series like True Blood and Twilight, it may come as no surprise that there are people who claim to be so fascinated with the dark side that they take to living nocturnal lifestyles in order to fulfill their own grim fascination with today’s vampiric sub-culture. But these individuals are mere neophytes; initiates by choice that could be headed down a long, dark road to something far more sinister… something so horrifying that the existence of which, though shrouded in mystery, can’t be ignored.

Worst of all, it’s real.

In his new book Real Vampires, Night Stalkers, and Creatures from the Darkside, Brad Steiger yet again takes the psyche of the reader into a veritable neither realm of dark foreboding mystery surrounding one of mankind’s most ancient foes: the vampire.

Most of us who have been scholars of vampire lore are well acquainted with the likes of Vlad Tepes, King of Wallaschia, or Montague Summers, the self-proclaimed clergyman, witch-hunter and author of the 1928 thesis on vampire hunting, The Vampire: His Kith and Kin. Arguably, Dracula himself (though a fictional character, nonetheless a close cousin to King Tepes) dominates the majority of the twilight neither-studies of the vampire. Lesser known are the varieties of murderous vampiric stalkers who have haunted and ruthlessly killed right here in the United States within only the last few decades, and that in many instances, to become a “vampire” requires not a bite, nor a curse, but merely a choice.

Take for instance the story of Sean Sellers, a self-proclaimed “Devil Child” who made his own evil pact that began with storing a jar of his own blood in his refrigerator, used for ghastly purposes of ritual imbibing. His thirst for the life-liquid eventually led him to murder a 36 year old night clerk, and even his own parents who he claimed to love. Along these same lines, Santanic ritual murders carried out by the likes of the wayward Steven Hurd, who professed his right to “snuff people out” as justification for murdering a defenseless mother of two and using portions of her remains in a blood-sacrifice to the Darkside.

Better known for his devilish bloodlust is serial killer Jeffery Dahmer, who Steiger refers to as a “Vampire-Cannibal-Werewolf all in one.” The mysterious Zodiac killer–whose identity is still unknown more than 40 years after his reign of terror in San Francisco–is also taken into question. Steiger supposes “Perhaps the spirit parasite that had held him in thrall had grown weary of the hunt in San Francisco and moved on to possess another student of the occult in another city,” referencing Stanly Dean Baker, who infamously contacted an California FBI agent and told him, “I am a cannibal.” Baker, who seemed to take the name “Jesus” for himself, had used his misguided logic to determine that the Christian words “eat my flesh and drink my blood” were meant literally, prompting him to remove the heart from one of his victims and devour it. One witness at a “beer-and-pot party” even claimed they watched Baker drink an entire mug of human blood.

By intensively analyzing reports such as these, Steiger manages to unveil the sick, twisted, and startling reality of a vampiric element present among us today. This is nothing new; it has existed for longer than we can imagine, stemming from demonic rites and ritual sacrifice, to notions of possessive “demon-parasites” borrowed from his earlier books (namely the Shadow World trilogy). But demonic serial killers aren’t by any means the only strange parallels Steiger manages to weigh in with. Shadow People, Black-eyed Beings, Chupacabras and, yes, even UFOs are recounted with an insightful look at their various vampiric elements.

One relaxing camper, Gretchen, recounts a vivid encounter with “toad-like” beings that emerged from a spacecraft in the wooded mountains of Oregon. The creatures, which carried a large metallic box that seemed to detect her presence, approached Gretchen, and in a rather typical abduction scenario, took small samples of flesh and blood, as evidenced by the strange marks covering her body the next morning. How often do we question the consistency of reports occurring during UFO encounters like this, where contactees claim to have had blood removed? Strange conspiracy notions do exist, supported by the likes of former Air Force officers like John Lear, that suggest aliens actually bathe in human blood, much like several of history’s most notorious human-vampires including Elizabeth Bathory, the “Blood Countess.” Might there be a more sinister truth behind the UFO enigma than we realized?

Whether or not you buy the notion that vampires and flesh-consuming devils exist among us, Brad Steiger’s Real Vampires, Night Stalkers and Creatures from the Darkside will keep you awake at night, and makes for a chilling read this Halloween season. Rest assured, you’ll want to sleep with the lights on… though to be fare, I must warn you that this may be the only way you’ll rest at all.

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Author: Micah Hanks

Micah Hanks is a writer, researcher, and podcaster. His interests include areas of history, science, archaeology, philosophy, and the study of anomalous phenomena in nature. He can be reached at info@micahhanks.com.