Monday, December 10, 2007

Vampires Anonymous – review

Director: Michael Keller

Release Date: 2003

Contains spoilers

I must admit to being torn by this movie, as I watched it on Zone Horror. It is a comedy that takes the genre and plays around with it and… there in lies the problem, you see with a comedy it is either going to hit the mark or not. I found the more genre orientated areas of the comedy funny, but the filmmakers also fell back on low-brow humour – sheep worrying for example – that missed the funny bone completely for me.

The film begins with make-out noises. We see a car, rocking away quite nicely, as we get a voice over from Vic (Paul Popowich), telling us that things are going really well. This is his fifth date and there have been no mishaps. There is a squelching noise and a scream. Vic staggers from his car and straight to a phone booth. He contacts Vampires Anonymous and, having admitted he has a problem, they promise to send someone over.

Someone is Geno (Michael Madsen) who arrives with a couple of guys. As their car arrives we hear a radio warning about possible corporate slayers on route (more on these later). Geno checks the car, and has a quick taste of Vic’s victim – 77 he asks, 76 Vic replies. Vic is taken to Vampires Anonymous and, it appears, Geno is to be his sponser.

A quick word about Geno, his mortal family are unaware he is a vampire but he is also a mobster and his other family insisted he go to VA. Madsen is fantastic in the role and the character is great but under-used in the film. It is a shame as I found myself wanting to know more about Geno and his exploits.

Vic is taken to a VA meeting and put on a twelve step programme. An evaluation concludes that his ideal human blood substitute comes from sheep and so he is sent to Rock Creek, a small farming community known for quality sheep. He is told to blend in as it is not known for numbers of sheep but quality.

Whilst there we get his misadventures as he tries to stick to the twelve steps. These include run ins with the local redneck thugs, falling for a mortal girl named Maggie (Nicole Forrester) and trying to catch sheep undetected. Of course the farmers notice their sheep vanishing and, when the useless local constabulary fail to act, call in a corporate slayer – due to an advert that mentions missing livestock – in the form of Tafeta Munro (Michelle Stafford).

The film draws obvious parallels with alcoholism, not just through the VA/AA simile but through the character Diesel (Steve Munroe). Having failed to get into police academy several times, Diesel is propelled into privately investigating the missing livestock through Vic’s suggestion, though Vic also throws a red herring towards him. Diesel, however, is quite a good investigator, or he would be if it wasn’t for his dependency on the bottle.

Lore wise we have Vic sleeping in a coffin, he can go out in the sun with a little protection – sun screen and umbrellas. He can eat garlic - they have been taken off the repellent list - and he is over 500 years old. Vampires can be poisoned as some lapsers in VA discover after heading to a Swedish bikini model convention and, as they are all enhanced, succumbing to silicone poisoning. Vampires have relections.

We do not hear as much about the corporate slayers as we would like to. We know that Taffeta injects herself with vampire repellent before going on a hunt – which forces a biting vampire back. Staking is the order of the day for killing a vampire, though the finale sees a bow in action, so I guess it is any form of heart piercing.

The film brings in some, quite atmospheric, dark moments but falls back onto an easy going light atmosphere for the main. I’ve mentioned Madsen but should also mention Popowich as Vic who comes across as very personable indeed. The problem, as I said, was that the humour didn’t consistently hit the mark for me. Because of this I’m holding back to 4.5 out of 10, but give it a go, it might resonate more fully with yourself.

The imdb page is here.

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