By Mike KernelsThe Virginian-Pilot© November 23, 2009
Not all vampires are created equal.
They don't all turn into bats. Or sleep in coffins. Or call themselves Count.
Garlic. Silver. Crosses. Check your vampires at the door - that is, if you don't plan to invite them in - before trying any of these.
In honor of the recently released "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," starring Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, here's something else to chew on - some highlights, and lowlights, about the ways vampires have been portrayed in pop culture over the years.
The beginnings and beyond
With Bela Lugosi in the starring role of "Dracula" in 1931, Hollywood created a blueprint for how to sell vampires for decades to come.
The 1954 Richard Matheson novel "I Am Legend" brought us a world overrun with flesh-eating creatures and would change the portrayal of vampires forever.
The cheese factor
"Billy the Kid vs. Dracula," a 1966 movie, begins what you might call The Dark Prince's Blue Period, when he's featured in a variety of bizarro scenarios, one cheesier than the next. Consider:
"Vampirella" (1996), For once, a female was the hunter, not the hunted, in this cult comic about an alien vampire whose mission was to protect mankind while exposing herself as much as possible.
Count Chocula (1971), A vampire as a goofy, bug-eyed cereal pitchman. Dark times for The Dark Prince.
"Blacula" (1972), Dracula gets a soul brother in this blaxploitation film.
The Count (1972), The debut of this "Sesame Street" character was the final nail in the coffin: Vampires were no longer scary.
"Interview with the Vampire" in 1976 brought us vampires with a heart. Who knew? This Anne Rice novel showed how being one of the undead can take a toll on the soul.
"Salem's Lot" in 1979 countered with vampires with no heart: This frightening miniseries, based on the Stephen King book of the same name, was must-flee TV when it aired on CBS.
A joke, but who's laughing?
"Dracula's Dog" turned man's best friend into his worst enemy in this 1978 cult D-movie.
"Love at First Bite" in 1979, By now, The Dark Prince was reduced to nothing more than a punch line, thanks to this romantic comedy starring The Other Dark Prince, George Hamilton.
Lost and saved
"The Lost Boys" (1987), Think "Twilight" but with a hair band. In this flick, starring an almost legal Kiefer Sutherland, eternally young vampires party all night and sleep it off at sunrise.
"Angel" (1999), In this WB TV series, we get to see that rare vampire who saves the day - at night, of course.
The ladies' man
"True Blood" brought vampires out of the coffin in this sexually charged HBO series that debuted in 2008. But don't worry. A synthetic drink on the market called True Blood keeps them from having to drain us humans. Problem is, not every vampire has consumer confidence in the product.
"The Twilight Saga: New Moon," in theaters now, goes out to all the ladies - especially those whose idea of the perfect man is a pale, emo, undead teen. In this sequel to "Twilight," Bella finds herself in a love triangle with vampire Edward and Jacob, who is a werewolf. One question: Are all the normal guys in this town taken?