Vamps: A Movie Review
2012-12-16, 11:35 a.m.
I had wanted to see the movie Vamps since I first heard of it. I love Alicia Silverstone no matter what she does, no matter what turds she's been in, even if she's vegan and feeds her kid baby bird-style (oh god, gag). I am also super fond of Krysten Ritter and Dan "OMG MATTHEW CRAWLEY" Stevens. So why was this movie, which has a lot of good acting famous people in it, hardly released and was practically straight to DVD?
Well....there are some very good moments, and some freaking terrible ones. It's a very mixed flick.
The plot: Goody the vampire (Silverstone) was turned in 1841, which she chose over dying of cholera like her husband and sisters had. She was able to keep her kids alive and thriving, though she lost touch with the family after things got awkward with the grandkids. Not all vampires can make other vampires--Goody points out that if that could happen, everyone would have long since eaten each other-- only "stem" vampires can. Goody's stem vamp is Ciccerus (Sigourney Weaver), who's pretty batshit insane and seems to turn ladies who can model clothes for her (since they don't have the ability to reflect in a mirror). Ciccerus also turned, at Goody's request, a cute party girl named Stacy (Ritter), in 1992. They're best friends in a great Bechdel test kind of way, and she's helped Goody keep the will to live. Stacy does her best to not mentally live in the 80's and keep up with the technology and the times. Goody is...not so thrilled with that, to say the LEAST, but she tries. She also hasn't told Stacy just how old she really is so as to not freak her out. They spend their lives working, going to night school, and partying.
Stacy and Goody are also unequivocably GOOD VAMPIRES. They only drink rat's blood, which is why their night job is with exterminators. They seriously STICK STRAWS IN THE RATS and slurp on them like they're juice boxes. They've never killed anyone, they've somehow managed to avoid seeing vamp-slaughtered bodies until the middle of this movie, they're totally squicked at the idea of feeding off humans, and go to "Sanguines Anonymous" meetings. Though there is one gross scene in which Goody watches a guy get a coke-induced nosebleed and can't help herself and ah...seriously slurps the blood out of both sides of his nose. (The special effects in this movie, man.) But hell, even Vlad Tepish (that's how the movie spells it) has gone off blood for 300+ years now and taken up knitting--he loves to make the other vamps sweaters and impale his yarn. The movie even explains why Vlad got the reputation he did, i.e. doing crazy shit to scare off the Ottoman Empire. Nice guy, Vlad.
Goody ends up running into her boyfriend Ricky from the 1960's, who she felt she had to leave after he was becoming prominent in the movement. They reconnect, but not romantically since his wife is dying of cancer. Stacy, on the other hand, meets a hot guy in night school....Joey Van Helsing. Joey has not exactly bought into the whole family business thing, which leads to conflict when he introduces Stacy to his parents and they figure her out right off. Eventually Joey finds out, but deals with it. And they are cute together and their romance is adorable. But the current Van Helsing chasing vamps works for Homeland Security, and he's arranged for the vamps to start getting jury duty summonses and IRS audits. Awk-ward. However, with the help of Ricky (ACLU lawyer), Renfield (a Goth CPA in on the vamp secret), and a very convenient solar eclipse, the vamps can all go out during the day enough to mind control people into getting rid of those records.
As for the casting of the Van Helsings...well, I think they cast Kristen Johnson as the mom (and gave her a token English accent) because you could at least somewhat buy that the hunky Dan Stevens came from her loins. You sure as hell have a hard time believing that Mr. Hall from Clueless produced this dude. But the family does have a great dynamic together when they argue, and it's funny. (Though what happened to Kristen Johnson's face? Yet another Botox disaster, sigh.)
I'll admit that I...well, I can't say I tend to think that Alicia Silverstone is a terribly good actress when out of her cute n' perky comfort zone. I have seen some damn turds with her in it (Excess Baggage). However, she actually does well in this one. You can see it in her eyes that she's older that most of the folks around her and how sad that makes her feel--frequently. She feels lost in this ever-advancing world, she's sick of having to learn new technology, she's tired, and you know it. And this is more of a love story for her and Stacy rather than her and Ricky. She even talks another stem vampire into vamping Ricky's wife for him--such a nice girl. It's refreshing.
Pretty much all of the special effects are so supremely bad that I can only assume they are deliberately so (like the juicebox rats). Stacy crawls down buildings like some kind of praying mantis (wtf?). There is a scene where a robbery breaks out and Goody mind-controls everyone there and they completely forgot to put in the mind control eyes used in the rest of the movie.
But oh, the movie's scientific logic. Or lack thereof. Some things are well thought out and some are not. For example, Goody stops an old man from having a stroke because she has a blood thinner enzyme in her saliva a la vampire bats, and explains this to Ricky as to why she bit the guy enough for her to spit in him, but didn't feed. That is some kind of detail there. But having actually seen a total solar eclipse by now....man, does it not work that way to be dark enough for vampires to run around. Hoo boy, it does NOT.
And then at this point, I need to go into the Super Spoiler Space Territory. Be forewarned. If you care, stop reading now.
And Stacy...well.... pretty much doesn't age 20 years at all. The movie tries to cover this up with "Hey, I didn't smoke or do drugs for 20 years or get a tan!," but it's the biggest plot-related aging fail I've seen since The Time Traveler's Wife.
As for Goody's sudden aging...well, nobody really does that well. Somehow she survives long enough to go to Times Square and eat a pretzel and say goodbye before she disintegrates away.
Yeah, the last thing you probably expected from a comedy movie like this was that the heroine's happy ending was to die. It's not quite the whiplash that's the ending of Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, though. You're okay with that. Though I am still wondering how the hell Stacy's daughter (also Goody) has fangs and her grandpa is okay with this. Huh?
I don't know...it's both very sweet and super campy bad at the same time. But overall, if you can take campy bad--or like it-- I'd say to rent it. I'd probably buy that movie because I enjoyed it so much I watched it twice in two days.