What was once "Pagan" in Europe became "folk beliefs." It is an interesting thing to study the various forms of paganism expressed throughout Europe. Each region has its own creatures in their story lines. One such creature is the alp demon.
Alp means "elf." These alps, in German lore, were said to come to your nightmares. They are often compared to a vampire-type creature. Typically, they are described as being male.
The alp is said to drink blood from the nipples of men and young children. This just gets creepier and creepier, doesn't it?
Legends say they sit upon a person's chest and cause trouble breathing. This makes it likely that the legendary creature was blamed for sleep issues like sleep apnea, night terrors, and sleep paralysis.
(LINK) Alps also exhibit a tendency for mischief similar to elves, like souring milk and re-diapering a baby; a maid must sign a cross on the diaper or the alp will put the soiled diaper back on her child. They also enjoy tangling hair into "elfknots" or chewing and twisting horse's tails. They will ride a horse to exhaustion during the night and may sometimes crush smaller farm animals such as geese to death during a pressing attack. Alps are also similarly blamed for minor illnesses and milking cows dry, for they enjoy the taste of cow's milk as well.
The alp is best known for its shapeshifting abilities, similar to the creatures from werewolf lore. It may change into a cat, pig, dog, snake or a small white butterfly. It has also been said that it can fly like a bird and ride a horse. The alp always wears a hat, giving it an almost comical appearance. The hat is known as a Tarnkappe (the literal translation being "camouflage cap" or "cap of concealment") which is simply a hat (or less commonly a veil) that gives the alp magic powers and the ability to turn invisible while worn (see also cloak of invisibility). The hat is visible no matter what shape the alp takes. An alp who has lost this hat will offer a great reward for its safe return. The alp also possesses an "evil eye" whose gaze will inflict illness and misfortune. Removing or damaging this eye also removes the alp's malicious intentions.
Of course, the lore includes ways to protect oneself from an alp. Some of these remedies include putting a broomstick under your pillow, putting your shoes near the bed with the toes pointing toward the door, and plugging up any holes you can find in your home.
In the mood for alp-like movies?
Cat's Eye (the segment with Drew Barrymore was one of the most chilling alp accounts!)
King of the Elves