The Fear Factor
As a species that's trained to fear all things that go bump in the night, it would seem obvious that, to humans, a vampire would prove to be anyone's worst nightmare. Fear is a powerful proponent within the human psyche, one that — like a vampire — feeds off our imagination and lays patiently in wait in the dark corners of our minds like so many sordid demons trapped behind the gates of hell. Vampires thrive on fear and the power they have in controlling it through hypnosis, seduction, or any physical means necessary (see Chapters 9 and 10).
Given that the vampiric creatures of lore were often insipid and hideous beasts, it's easy to see why the mere thought of them instantly elicits fear. Vampires in literature approach the aspect of fear with carefully measured words meant to evoke specific imagery and emotional reactions. Silver screen vampires have arguably given us the most nightmares in that regard. To actually see a vampire encircle its prey in a frenzied attack or enact a slow, macabre courtship, then ultimately watch as its fangs pierce through exposed skin, leaves a lasting impression both literally and figuratively. Among the many swirling tales of vampirism there are several major factors that play into the terrifying grip these malfeasants have on our psyche, including, among other things, plagues and epidemics.