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Vampires continue to show life, even as parodies roll out
By Matt Arado | Daily Herald Staff

Rhona Mitra plays the bloodthirsty Claire on ABC's "The Gates," the newest vampire-themed show to hit television.

 

Rhona Mitra prepares to take a bite out of a victim on ABC's "The Gates," the newest vampire-themed show to hit television.

 

When vampires start skipping rope with Dick and Jane, as they do in "Dick and Jane and Vampires," is it a sign that the vampire craze is nearing an end?

 

Courtesy of Grosset & Dunlap

"After Dusk but Before Daylight," an improvised parody of the "Twilight" books and movies, will open at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights on Oct. 2.

 

"Emma and the Vampires," a new take on Jane Austen's classic novel, was written by former Arlington Heights resident Wayne Josephson.

 

Actor James Frain delivers a particularly toothy snarl in "True Blood," the acclaimed vampire series on HBO.

 

Matt Lanter plays Edward, the bling-loving vampire in "Vampires Suck," a "Twilight" parody film that opens Aug. 18.

 

The CW's "The Vampire Diaries" won big earlier this week at the Teen Choice Awards.

 

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Published: 8/10/2010 12:00 AM

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Look around: Vampires are everywhere.

On television. On movie screens. In bookstores. Frankly, you can barely turn around these days without seeing some person - usually young and attractive - baring his or her fangs.

Fascination with vampires is nothing new, of course, though it's hard to remember a time when the genre has been this pervasive. Just this week, bloodsuckers swept the Teen Choice Awards with TV's "The Vampire Diaries" earning seven awards and "The Twilight Saga" movie racking up 12.

It's gotten to the point where parodies of the vampire fad have started to emerge; consider the movie "Vampires Suck," which opens next week, and the improv comedy "After Dusk but Before Daylight," which opens at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in October.

Vampires have even infiltrated the world of children's books, where they're hanging out with Dick and Jane. (Yes, you read that right.)

All of which raises the question: Has the vampire craze peaked?

Maybe. Then again, maybe not.

Brendan Riley, a pop culture expert and English professor at Columbia College Chicago, believes that the arrival of parodies generally signals the temporary end of a genre's power.

"It's hard to produce serious works within a genre once pop culture starts making fun of it," Riley said. "Now that the vampire trend is being ridiculed, it might be a sign that it's time for the genre to take a break."

But Wayne Josephson, a former Arlington Heights resident who has written a "mashup" novel titled "Emma and the Vampires," isn't so sure that the craze's end is near.

"We still have two more 'Twilight' movies coming," he said. "I figure that gives us some time."

Josephson refers, of course, to the insanely popular series of vampire/teen-romance films starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson that are based on the every-bit-as-beloved novels by Stephenie Meyer. The next "Twilight" film - part 1 of the adaptation of the final novel, "Breaking Dawn" - comes out in 2011.

Josephson said it was Meyer's novels that prompted him to write a vampire-themed book of his own. His daughter is a huge "Twilight" fan, and he thought adding vampires into Jane Austen's classic novel "Emma" would be a great way to introduce Austen to younger readers, especially girls.

"Jane Austen can be difficult to read for today's young people," said Josephson, who now lives in Charlottesville, Va. "My daughter suggested adding a vampire element to make it more readable. I basically went through Austen's novel line by line and created this vampire story while working hard to retain the novel's original charm."

Josephson finished "Emma and the Vampires," out now from Naperville publisher Sourcebooks, just as the first "Twilight" movie came out. He admitted to wondering whether the vampire trend would last until his book finally made it onto shelves.

"I'm not worried now," he said with a laugh. "I think the new age of vampires will be with us for awhile."

Palatine resident Scott Woldman said he looks forward to taking his own whack at the vampire genre, though his will be more comedic in nature. Woldman is the director of "After Dusk but Before Daylight," an improvised parody of the "Twilight" books and films. The comedy opens in October at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights.

Woldman, a veteran of the Chicago-area theater scene, said his cast of six actors will come prepared to play specific characters from the saga, then ask the audience for scenarios to act out.

"We'll also do some of the iconic scenes from the films," Woldman said. "I can't wait; I think it's going to be lots of fun."

Woldman doesn't worry that the vampire craze is fading.

"Just the fact that we're doing this shows how popular this vampire thing has become," he said. "I'm not sure if it's on the way down, but I don't think it can get any bigger."

If for some reason you're not convinced that vampire mania has reached a fever pitch, consider this: Vampires are now hanging out with Dick and Jane.

That's right, "Dick and Jane and Vampires," written and drawn in the style of the classic children's books, hits stores on Aug. 26. In it, the iconic apple-cheeked children make friends with a cape-wearing vampire and have a ball skipping rope and playing dress-up.

"It was too good an idea to pass up," said Francesco Sedita, publisher and vice-president of Grosset & Dunlap, which is putting out the book. "Vampires and Dick and Jane - that's just what a mashup ought to be!"

Sedita said the book is designed to appeal to kids 5 and up just learning to read, while putting a smile on the faces of their parents. The idea for it came up at one of the monthly creative meetings he holds with his editors.

"We turned this around pretty quickly, because we knew the whole vampire window could close at any moment," he said. Then he reconsidered. "But you know, hot trend or not, vampires will always be a fascinating subject. They won't die."