If you ran into a person who hated the sun, was unusually fast and strong, and drank blood, you would think vampire right? Not in American Horror Storyland!! In American Horror Storyland if you ran into a person who hated the sun, was unusually fast and strong, and drank blood you apparently would think: What? And then you would jump in bed with this person and get eaten because that’s how people in American Horror Storyland work.
The reason I bring this up is because of how American Horror Story treats vampire’s on the show, or rather Notpires as they are not called on this show, in fact they not called anything on this show but Notpires seems an appropriate name. They’re basically just humans with some enhanced attributes (Strength, Speed, Healing Factor) few weaknesses (Sunlight weakens them but doesn’t kill them and they can be killed by normal means) and have to use blades to get to a persons blood. Still, it’s close enough that someone who was familiar with concept of a vampire would recognize a Notpire as one.
Firstly they seem to be pretending that Dracula never happened, the movie was never made, the book by Bram Stoker was never written, and there were no popular vampire works to take it’s place and the word vampire doesn’t mean anything to anyone. The situation is kind of similar with the Walking Dead which runs on the idea that George Romero never made Night of the Living Dead and there were no popular zombie works to replace it. As such nobody recognized the zombies as zombies (Or as undead in general for that matter) and had no idea what they were dealing with.
The situation seems to be the same for American Horror Story to some degree as people don’t seem to recognize a vampire when they see one. That being said during the sequence in the second episode where whiny murderous supermodel Tristan gets turned and has the rules of notpiresm explained to him and he asks several questions about having some classic vampire weaknesses such as a stake through the heart and holy water suggesting that vampires do exist in some form in American Horror Storyland pop culture.
Which brings me to Nosferatu, the only Vampire media to have been referenced so far (Though not by name). Nosferatu showed up in the first episode as a film that was being played in the park where Lady Gaga and Donovan picked up dinner, and then later in episode 8 F.W. Murnau, the director of Nosferatu appears. In this appearance we get some very different backstory to the Nosferatu movie than the actual one, which was that this was a straight up rip off of of Dracula. In this version however Murnau went to some eastern European country (Transylvania? Styria? Romania? Who knows) to research the Notpires, this research ends up being a blood orgy in the woods and getting turned into a Notpire himself. So this muddies the waters on the vampire situation because if Murnau wasn’t ripping off Dracula and was just making some random movie about people who drank blood and had blood orgies in the woods. Even then I’m not sure if this version of Nosferatu was even popular or well remembered either since Nosferatu didn’t have any normal vampire features to begin with (It was an attempted copyright friendly ripoff...It failed) and so I’m not sure where Tristan’s knowledge would have come from if Dracula doesn’t exist in this universe.
I could be over thinking this, the whole reason vampires aren’t called vampires in the first place is because Ryan Murphy doesn’t want to make himself a liar out of himself for previously saying that there weren’t going to be Vampires on American Horror Story ever (He said the same thing about werewolves in the same statement so I fully expect WereNot’s in a future season) and he’s apparently still saying that so I just don’t know. It’s possible that Dracula is still around and 100+ years of vampire related works do exist and the characters on this show are just somehow not familiar with any of it (Not much of a stretch really) and are completely stumped by the person they were having sex with tearing up their throat. Because Hey! This show never really rewards those who give it any serious thought anyway.