Talk about risking your neck! If Queen of the Damned author Anne Rice or Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon have any wooden stakes handy, they may want to point them in the direction of Wesley Snipes. The Blade star suggests to TV Guide Online that his 1998 movie infused life into the blood-red-hot vamp genre.

"I think a lot of that [hoopla] has to do with Blade," he boasts. "Give a lot of love to Blade for all of that."

Truth be told, the toothsome undead have been sucking in audiences for years — long before Snipes began hunting lost boys and ghouls. Why is the appeal of the fanged club as eternal as the creatures themselves? "[Vampires are] enhanced human beings," theorizes the 39-year-old, who reprises his title role of a half-human/half-vamp in Blade 2 (opening tomorrow). "They're sexy, they're rich, they're powerful and hypnotic — all of the things that none of us are, but really wish we could be.

"They live forever," he adds. "Or until Blade comes along."

Given his druthers, Snipes gladly would sign in O-neg to continue on indefinitely as the moonlight-loving superhero. "I've seen the sequel and franchise thing work for a number of my friends," he says, "and I thought, 'That's what I need to be down with.'"

Barring a bumper crop of garlic, it looks like his wish will be granted: A third Blade already is being sharpened so that producers quickly can lay it to rest... er, that is, put it to bed. "Everybody's gearing up for it," he reveals excitedly. "We're going to try and do it next year so we can get it out of the way. Do it and get it done."