Serbian village council issues warning that a vampire may be on the loose

While most of us think of vampires as creatures that lurk only in books, movies, and teenagers' bedroom walls, for some parts of the world, vampire folklore is still very serious business. One of those places is Bajina Bašta, Serbia, where officials have warned the populace that a very old and notorious vampire might be on the loose, having been displaced from his home.

According to folklore, the vampire Sava Savanović lived in an old watermill on the Rogačica river, in Zarožje village, where he would suck the blood of millers who came to grind their grain. Since the mill closed in the 1950s, it has served as a tourist attraction for those curious about its vampiric associations. But since the owners left the property untouched—for fear of disturbing the vampire—the mill fell into disrepair and recently collapse altogether. The problem? Now many locals believe the vampire is homeless and roams the town now that he has been disturbed from his slumber.

Village mayor Miodrag Vujetic has confirmed that the local council issued a public health warning, reminding residents to place garlic on their doors and put in a cross in every room of their houses, saying:

"People are worried, everybody knows the legend of this vampire and the thought that he is now homeless and looking for somewhere else and possibly other victims is terrifying people. We are all frightened."

While not as famous as some folkloric vampires, Sava Savanović has achieved his share of notoriety, not just in myth but in fiction as well. He appears in the story Posle devedeset godina (After Ninety Years) by Serbian writer Milovan Glišić and in Leptirica, a horror film inspired by the story.

Update: Commenter melymnosine says that the warning is real, but that it's being done as a publicity stunt to attract tourists to the region by capitalizing on the local folklore—which sounds entirely likely, if less exciting than the locals believing the vampire might be roaming the land.

Second Update: Another article in the AP contains more details and suggests that at least some of the locals are taking the warning semi-seriously. As for others, they say they're following the edicts more to keep the traditions and stories alive.

Vampire fears boost garlic sales [Orange via Nerdcore]