A few years ago, I saw an interesting item pop up on eBay: a “genuine” vampire hunter’s kit with a starting bid of $1,000.
Obviously, I was skeptical but nonetheless found it to be really fantastic looking, particularly since it reflected the best of the vampire lore times: the Victorian era.
I did a little digging and ran across this really good 2014 article from the site Vamped that talks quite a lot about the history (and hoaxes) of vampire hunters kits. Specifically, why you should never buy an “antique” one.
Hoax or not, I had always wanted one, since I love classic horror and spooky stories. However, I am not a wealthy owner of a misty manor on some hill able to spend countless dollars to protect my clan from creatures of the night.
This year, as our opportunities to attend festivals and spooky events have been cut back in the area, I took advantage of the spare time to put together the ultimate in Halloween and haunting season props: my own small Vampire Slayer’s Kit.
If you look at images of these kits, you’ll find they come in all shapes and sizes from little “pocket kits” and utility pouches with a couple of small items to tabletop props filled with attractively arranged pieces to wall-mounted cabinets, hollowed-out books, and shadow boxes to big, massive tactical foot locker-size monstrosities packed with more vampire-killing goodies than Buffy, Van Helsing, and the Winchester brothers could ever imagine.
Now, before I go on, know this idea is something I made for myself, as a “grownup” that is safe (most of the time) around sharp items. If you want to make a fun kit with younger crafters, many of the following items I have found in “papercraft” form from a fantastic haunted toy site called Ravensblight, including a flintlock rubber band pistol and a collapsible wooden stake. They look really good and are much, much, safer.
For my kit, I opted to make a small table-top “starter” kit with just the basics, and I did find these are the items that most had in common:
A cross (often a crucifix). My dad had acquired several cheap wooden crucifixes from a charity he gives to, which had the perfect “antique” look. Similar crosses can be found at most dollar stores, or use a jewelry charm on a large chain. I’ve seen rosary beads in several kits as well.
Vials of “essentials.” Almost always, these kits have a few little glass vials filled with useful substances like “holy water” and “garlic.” I don’t think my church would take too kindly to me hitting the holy water basin like the Frog brothers, but plain old water looks the same. Also, you can hit the pantry and back yard for dried herbs and leaves that you think would look neat. Some bigger kits have several items, but even just two or three little bottles look good. I saw one kit with a vial of “vampire blood,” just in case you need it, so good movie-style blood (corn syrup and red food coloring) works. I used little empty perfume and craft store-bought glass bottles, sealed them with a glue gun, and melted some candle wax around the corks to prevent leaking.
Assorted Weaponry. Yes, lethal force may be necessary to get rid of those pesky bloodsuckers, especially the traditional old wooden stakes, pistols, and daggers. Disclaimer: I am not telling you to go out and buy an old pistol, but thanks to costume props being everywhere right now, you can use plastic pirate-era guns. I have an old Jack Sparrow toy I painted and modified to look a little more aged.
For a dagger, I found a little ornate dragon letter opener. For the wooden stakes, an old soft wooden stick can be whittled, as well as little balsa wood pieces (found in most craft stores). I used some giant pencils someone gave me several years ago I just kept displayed in a vase. They worked perfectly.
Some sort of reference material. There is usually some sort of important info to look at like a scroll, parchment, or old photographs to manuals, small Bibles, or spellbooks. I decided to print out a few famous pop-culture vampires in old sepia colors and write their names and info on the back. I made a little aged-looking paper envelope to keep them bound.
Other items I saw included: mirrors, beads, mallets, gloves, framed images from a variety of religions, antique dental items (pull out those offending fangs), and assorted magic amulets from rings to statuettes. This is where each vampire kit builder’s own individual tastes and imagination comes in handy.
Finally, once the items are gathered, hit the attic, garage, craft store, or pawnshop for a wooden case or box. Some vampire hits included separate compartments to keep everything and others were nicely fitted on the foam-like surface. I did the latter, taking a sheet of soft floral foam and pushing the items down in it. I removed them and covered the sheet with a piece of cloth. I glued the entire thing in the bottom of the box and place the heavier items down in it.
Inside the lid, I held some of the smaller items in place with a faux leather strap (ribbon also works) and some heavy push pins.
I kept the outside pretty simple, with one little costume jewelry “evil eye” charm. It is best to keep them simple, so the vampires can’t find them too easily.
Wow, I have my own little “real” vampire hunter’s kit… and it is epic. I left it by the fireplace for people to look at and discover the “purpose” on their own, and I am planning on keeping it out year-round.
Whether or not you believe there are vampires lurking in the shadows, or whichever pop-culture vampire incarnation sparks your fancy—be they sparkly or sinister—keeping a hunter’s kit on hand will always turn a quiet space into one of curiosity and conversation.
Happy haunting… and happy hunting.