Modern-day vampires have good looks, sex appeal and feelings their "misunderstood" evil predecessors lacked, a vampire researcher says.

Massey University Albany School of Management lecturer Andrew Cardow moonlights as a vampire researcher, looking at the way the mythological bloodsuckers are represented in popular culture, such as the Twilight saga.

Dr Cardow has written an academic paper on the social acceptability of vampires, now seen as an "everyman with fangs".

His paper was updated for publication in the Vampires and Zombies: Transnational Transformations journal, amidst the hype of the latest film in the Twilight series, Eclipse, which opens in New Zealand tonight.

The best-selling book and movie trilogy featured heart-throb vampire and high school student Edward Cullen who won the heart of mortal, Bella.

"The vampire of today has feelings, it has a sense of humanity," Dr Cardow said.

The popularity of vampires had been cyclic through history and the 21st century version had been "rehabilitated" from the bloodsucking monster of Bram Stoker's Dracula.

The Twilight vampires could walk around in the daytime - although sunlight made them glittery - and the good ones were vegetarians.

Vampire makeovers in the mass media had led to an acceptance "that the vampire was nothing more than a wronged, misunderstood unfortunate", Dr Cardow's paper said.