Sales of garlic are booming in western Serbia today after the local council issued a public health warning that a vampire was on the loose.
The official announcement came after an old ruined mill said to once have been the home of the country’s most famous vampire collapsed.
Sava Savanovic was believed to have lived in the shack on the Rogacica river in Zarozje village in the municipality of Bajina Basta.
It is said he drank the blood of anybody that came to mill their grain.
The watermill was bought by the local Jagodic family and they were too scared to use it as a mill – but discovered it was a goldmine when they started advertising for tourists to come and visit it – always during the day.
The family were worried about carrying out building work on the mill because they were scared they might disturb the vampire or unleash his wrath.
And now the property has collapsed through lack of repair.
But for locals it has sparked rumours that the vampire is now free once again.
Local mayor Miodrag Vujetic admitted: ‘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.’
He added that it was all very well for people who didn’t live in the area to laugh at their fears but he said nobody in the region was in any doubt that vampires do exist.
He confirmed that the local council had advised all villagers to put garlic on their doors and windows to protect them from the vampire as it was well known they can’t stand the smell.
He added: ‘We have also reminded them to put a Holy cross in every room in the house.’
Villagers who cashed in catering to tourists fascinated by the legend of Savanovic say they now wish they had left the place well alone.
Although he is usually said to have been the first Serbian vampire, there were claims that there is an earlier vampire in Serbian folklore, Petar Blagojević, from Veliko Gradište, who died in 1724.