Tag Archives: vampire

Elementary School Vampire Joke

Main Performance:

The informant, TB, recounted a joke she picked up in elementary school.

TB: “What do you call a vampire in the winter?”

Me: “Hungry?”

TB: “Frostbite.”


She had heard this joke back in elementary school and latched onto the use of the punchline, so she decided to dedicate it to memory for whenever she needed a joke. It’s the sort of back pocket comedy that kids used to exchange and it stuck.


These sort of jokes are a bookmark on a period of time in life when everyone is still forming a sense of humor, so the jokes that were told often had a repeated/memorized feeling like this one. I’ve heard it before as well, also from someone at school, and was reminded of that innocent test of knowledge that would take place during recess. The joke being more self indulgent for the teller, as their laugh comes from getting to tell the recipient the answer.

The Aswang

Context: X is a 20 year old Filipino American college student who spent the first seven years of childhood living in the Philippines, before moving with his close family to California. The piece was collected over an audio call. 

Intv: “Can you think of any, like, ghost stories, or urban legends from the Philippines?”

X: “Probably the most famous one is the aswang, typically depicted as a vampire but can also be a ghoul/were-beast or something of the sort and like to kill and devour humans dead or alive. Can also be a witch but that’s not as common. Their strength is severely reduced during daytime/in sunlight so we tend to fill our wakes/funerals with candles and leave some on the grave after to protect the wake/corpse from being attacked. They are a very varied monster because of how varied the cultures of the 3 main islands and even the tinier islands inside of them are, but the most common one is basically bat-like ghouls/vampires”

Intv: “Where specifically in the Philippines were you told about the aswang?”

X: “So my (dad’s) family that told me most of the folklore lived in the very southern tip of the Province of Pangasinan (used to be in north Zambales before territory changes) in a village/town named Nayom and we primarily saw them as ghoul-bat creatures that range from monstrous looking to almost humanoid not really a definite one shape (not too sure if this is the only thing my family thought but that’s what they told me as a kid). Filipino media typically depict them as ghoul-bat vampires still but some of them could transform to look just like a really pale human.”

Analysis: I find it interesting how all across the Philippines they have many different stories of the aswang, going so far as to have the aswang often being viewed as different things across different cultures. The friend that I interviewed also informed me that he believes that it’s known as a man/bat creature where he’s from because of the golden crowned flying fox bat, which is native to the Philippines and X argues the tale of the aswang comes from before our knowledge of the bat as a species and therefore has been misidentified in the past.

The Soucouyant

BACKGROUND: My informant, OR, was born in the US. Her parents are both immigrants from Grenada. OR is always joking about Carribeans being a very superstitious people and this piece is just one story out of the many that OR told me about her family’s beliefs. This story in particular stood out to OR because her parents always jokingly warn her brother to watch out for seductive soucouyants. 

CONTEXT: This piece is from a conversation with my friend to discuss the role of superstition in Caribbean culture. 

OR: Okay. So basically, um, the soucouyant is kind of like half vampire, half fireball. 

Me: Fireball?

OR: She’s like a blood-sucking hag, essentially. I think other islands literally just call her the hag. She sucks your blood and… okay, she usually appears like, um, either a woman or like a reeeally sexy woman during the day. And then at night, she peels off her skin and puts it in a mortar and pestle and grinds it up. (laughs) And then she turns into a literal fireball and like runs around the sky at night and she can enter your home through like a keyhole or like any crevices, or if you like leave the windows cracked. So you gotta close the windows. And um, they say, if you want her to not come in your house, you have to drop, um, like rice outside your house and you have to drop a lot because basically, she will be counting the rice until morning. I think the Haitians actually call it the Lougarou, but in Grenada, Lugar is actually a totally different thing.

THOUGHTS: I really like this story for its specificity. The concept of a half-vampire half-hag half-skinless witch creature really says a lot about the specific fears and taboos of this community. The fact that this story was aimed at OR’s brother and not OR points to the fact that the Caribbean community may fear the control that women can possess over men. OR mentioned that the story is a variation of the European version of a vampire so I think the gender swap is notable in examing the significance of this story in Caribbean culture.

For another version of this legend, see: Simpson, George Eaton. “Loup Garou and Loa Tales from Northern Haiti.” The Journal of American Folklore, vol. 55, no. 218, 1942, pp. 219–227. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/535864.

Grand Canyon Vampire Encounter

Informant’s Background:

My informant, JD, is a undergraduate student at Arizona State University. He currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. His family is American and he was born somewhere in California, but his family moved to Arizona shortly after his birth.


My informant (JD) and I (AT) are friends, after meeting online through a mutual friend during the pandemic. I asked him if he had any folklore to share.


JD: “So when my dad was hiking the Grand Canyon and it was like 3AM in the morning and he had his headlight on… He saw a dude walk past him without a headlamp on and the dude was like REALLY pale and he was kind of like staggering about and… he didn’t look at him or say anything and my dad was overall kind of creeped out about the guy.”

AT: “When did your dad tell you this story?”

JD: “Uhh… He just said it to me after his trip. In my kitchen, I think.”

Informant’s Thoughts:

JD: “I think it’s kind of weird. One thing he did say is-just jokingly, I guess, that it might’ve been a vampire or something but he was getting vampire vibes from the dude.”


I think it’s interesting how grim situations can be made light by comparing them to pre-existing myths and legends, such as those of vampires in this case. I don’t believe its my place to say whether or not the informant’s father’s encounter with this forest wanderer was a vampire encounter or not. But if theoretically it wasn’t a vampire encounter, then this could have been a meeting with someone who is potentially lost, mentally ill, or otherwise seriously unwell, and potentially dangerous, but the father is able to change the narrative into a humorous and mythical encounter by mentioning the possibility of the person being a vampire, thus recontextualizing the original grim and bleak encounter into a more fantastical, funny, and spooky story.


Pontianak is a female ghost, or the Southeast Asian equivalent of the vampire. A woman could become a pontianak by committing suicide upon discovering that her husband is cheating on her, or if the woman dies during pregnancy. They live on banana trees, and there are many banana plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia. When I was a kid, my grandmother would warn me not to get too close to banana trees. Or don’t look up when you’re near a banana tree. They like to hang upside down too. I’ve never seen one and I haven’t known anyone who’s seen a pontianak, but they’re usually seen by village folks. Pontianak have long black hair, long fangs, and a white dress, and they usually haunt only men. They don’t suck blood like Western vampires do, but they suck out your organs.

The informant grew up hearing stories about the pontianak. The legend of this creature could be a reflection of expected gender roles in Malaysian and Indonesian societies, and also fertility and faithfulness.