Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Ketchup Vampires – review

vhsDirected by: Alexander Zapletal

Release date: 1991

Contains spoilers

I don’t know who to blame for this kid’s animation but it is bad. Perhaps we should blame the director, Alexander Zapletal or maybe writer Bettina Matthaei? Seriously though, you can get a German only DVD of this, which was apparently a series, which comes in at 325 minutes! It ran, from what I can gather from 1991 but the US version, on VHS only, is made up of two 90 minute features – this being the first. We can tell as we watch, however, that the features were made up from individual episodes.

Bella and PinoThe English dub is performed by unnamed voice over actors, and as this is not to be found (at time of review) on imdb, one feels that their identities are fairly safe. Not so much for Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) who narrates through the episode. So what we have is the castle Von Ravenstein, where kindly mad scientist Edgar Von Ravenstein lives with his wannabe actor brother Edgar and his granddaughter Bella. Also living there are the Ketchup Vampires, cousin Siegfried, mom Margaret, Dad Maurice and son Vampino (or Pino for short).

setting up the factorySo why have the vegetarian vampires moved into the castle. Well it would be a funny question if it wasn’t so obvious!!! It is to get the old ketchup factory modernised and up and running. Well of course, how could we have been so silly as to not realise that!

a brief glimpse of DraculaVampino finds a book and is subsequently told the story of how his mother and father stole it. It is the book of Dracula, written by the Count himself. It instructs young vampires on how to be evil vampires. Margaret and Maurice were in love and did not wish to be evil and so they stole it. With it gone the matura ceremony couldn’t go ahead – the ritual which allows a young vampire to drink blood. Thus there has been a generation of non-bloodsucking vampires. Instead, those vampires in Transylvania are stuck eating blood sausage!

Contessa HilgaOf course there is another ceremony due and the evil Contessa Hilga wants the book back, she also happens to be Margaret’s cousin and the ex-fiancée of Maurice. She sends agents to get the book, in the guise of a professor and students who have arranged to study at the castle Von Ravenstein. Within unexplained seconds she is also off there as well with her protégé Huberta and the vampire baby Chubby (with which they aim to distract Margaret as she loves babies).

attacking bad vampireOf course all their plans come to naught. Ricardo, the agent, gets stuck in a dungeon cell with the book. One of the bat spies is caught and the other becomes a ketchup drinking bat and falls in love. Hilga is drugged, the students are defeated by garlic and Huberta runs away. The film then flips, as though an episode had turned, into another story.

The MasterThe Master, an old feeble vampire, finds Dracula’s ruby ring and, when he wears it, it makes him young and powerful again. The ring carries a prophecy of one, the renewer, who will make the vampire nation strong again and he is… Vampino. However, he must kiss the chosen bride in a kissing ceremony in order to forget his past and become evil. The chosen bride is Huberta and she will take the form of Bella to steal the kiss.

fangsOf course it is all piffle and I doubt that kids will actually want to sit through this – though perhaps the biggest problem is with the English dub and it worked really well in the original German? Somehow I doubt it and, certainly, no one can change the fact that the animation is poor and has not aged too well. There are awful musical numbers, and the band involved – Bullets – should hang their heads with shame. The only real saving grace is some slicing commentary by Elvira on occasion, but it is too few and far between to raise the score. Poor, 1.5 out of 10.

There is no imdb page at time of review.

;) Q


Christine13 said...

Just so you know you hypercritical jerk, this was the first exposure I ever had to vampires as a child, not to mention my absolute favorite thing to watch until my cassettes broke. Sure the animation is low quality, and the plots a bit silly, but it's a children's movie meant to teach that it was okay to be different and not to be afraid of the dark or what was in it. The Ketchup Vampires is meant to be a light hearted series that teaches morals, while using a fun and comical supernatural overtone, come on, who wouldn't want to be a ketchup vampire?

Taliesin_ttlg said...


Thanks for your comment

To be honest here are things I remember from being a child with fondness that I know I would never wish to watch again (the TV series Children of the Stone immediately jumps to mind) as watching them as an adult will destroy that memory when I see just how poor they really were without the filter of childhood.

Maybe that wouldn't be a case for you with this, maybe it would be? But I tell 'em as I see 'em.