Thursday, November 12, 2009

Vampire Party – review

dvdDirectors: Stephen Cafiero & Vincent Lobelle

Release date: 2008

Contains spoilers

Vampire Party is the US release name for the French comedy that is entitled “Les Dents de la Nuit” or “Teeth of the Night”. It is a comedy, though I (partially) disagree that it is an ‘Airplane!’ style spoof – as suggested by the DVD cover. Whilst it does have elements of the spoof, it is true, it also has a black humoured streak through its centre that the average spoof could not touch.

Of course, comedies are always difficult to review as what I find funny, you may not. But I can tell you now that this one most definitely tickled my funny bone.

opening creditsThe film starts off with a girl riding atop a man, the scene seems dreamlike and, indeed, it is for as a weatherman starts to give his report on the radio she morphs into the weatherman. The man is half asleep and dreaming! The weather report becomes a faux-news report and this gives us the background on our three main characters. The man is Sam Polisatokoniminsky (Patrick Mille) and he loves to party, it is what he lives for. He tends to party with Alice Wouhou (Frédérique Bel), an aerobics instructor with serial love affairs and Prune Descoins (Julie Fournier) a banker who makes the best daiquiri’s in the world. That night the girls are going to an open bar for women only. Following the opening we get a wonderful cartoon credit sequence that, deliberately I thought, brought the Fearless Vampire Killers to mind.

Alice is invitedThe girls meet up at the bar and Alice is upset because she and her latest lover, Albarn, have split up. Sam turns up in drag – he won’t allow gender to spoil the party (or, more importantly, deny him access to the open bar). As he dances with some poor unfortunate, Alice tells Prune how she would like to end it all, this changes when Prune reminds her that the sales are in three weeks! Alice is still crying and drops her purse when a man comes up (and Barry White plays) and asks her to come to a party – he gives her an envelope containing an invitation.

Our main heroesThe invitation, Sam recognises, is for the Medici Night – almost an urban legend in the party world, it is the Holy Grail of parties. Alice believes the man is a gentleman and gave her the invite because she was crying and so Sam has Prune pepper spray him. Streaming with tears, his mascara running, he approaches the man. He returns with two more tickets – the man didn’t care about his tears so Sam stole them from his jacket. We then cut to the Chief of Police, LeFranc (Antoine Duléry), being informed by Le Duc de Journiac (Tchéky Karyo) that he is required to attend the party.

Titanic fantasyThe night of the party comes and, to get there, they all go to a skyscraper from where helicopters will fly them to their destination. We meet some of the other party goers, main characters out of the 400 guests. There is Jessica Conti (Hélène de Fougerolles), married to a mobster (actually he sells out of date sausages), she is followed by a bodyguard, Georges (Joseph Malbera), who does not have an invite himself. He is able to get on the helicopter but not get into the party. There is Serge Krinine (Sam Karmann), celebrity dentist. Finally there is Edouard (Vincent Desagnat), who bought his ticket on e-bay. Edouard sees Alice and has a ‘Titanic fantasy’ but then he does that every time he sees a pretty blonde, even if they are dead! Their destination is a castle.

Journiac vamps outAs the three main characters go into the main party, Georges looks for a way to follow his charge. He sees a car coming and flags it down asking to see the invite and then walks off with it. The driver pulls a berretta, which Georges relieves him of and then, accidentally, shoots the man dead. As he gets to the party he is given a pin and directed to the VIP area. If the main party is bacchanalian, the VIP section seems sombre. Journiac addresses them all, he mentions the book of pacts, seems obsessed with hairstylists and, as he suggests that they will reign supreme, the microphone he uses makes him look like he has a “Hitler moustache”. He reveals the main party and announces an open bar and the VIPs vamp out. The real owner of Georges’ invitation turns up and kills the bodyguard.

the party is an open barThe vampires invade the party and, at first, most don’t notice. Our main heroes, of course, try to escape. They end up with all the named main human characters at some point. Krinine has been invited to turn – Journiac wants a dentist in their ranks, when you live for eternity and rely on fangs you need good dental work. One reason this film works is because it mixes black humour, slapstick, sexual humour, stereotype humour, post-modernist aspects and genre specific humour. Jessica (played as a stereotyped dumb blonde) wants a man, her husband doesn’t touch her anymore, and is taken to a bedroom by one of the VIPs. She immediately gets on the bed and crouches with her backside in the air, whilst asking to be taken; the man sniffs her posterior – he can’t help it, he explains, his mother was a werewolf. He then pees round the bed.

fangsVampire lore wise we hear that Dracula is the competition and that this line of vampires descend from Catherine De Medici who, in 1572, massacred Protestants – referring to the historical St Bartholomew’s Day massacre. The Medici night is a massacre in celebration of that and LeFranc is needed for the cover story – the partygoers will be said to have boarded a plane that subsequently crashed, LeFranc will make the announcement. We discover that vampires have no reflections and, at one point, garlic is found. A vampire threatened with it, eats it to laugh at the myth and then his face bloats and gets sores as he is actually allergic to garlic anyway!

the charred remains of a staked vampireHoly water works and makes the vampire dissolve – there is a whole joke about the Thorn Birds that I won’t spoil. They can survive being shot and having their necks broken (decapitation is mentioned and seems to be another method) but the main way to kill them is to pierce the heart – Buffy using a stake is mentioned, so Jessica produces a vibrator from her purse but this is dismissed as a weapon. On death they burst into flames and those flames can (and in one scene do) spread. The resultant remains are a charred mess.

sunlight burnsSunlight can also kill a vampire, though the castle has metal shutters that cover every window preventing sunlight from getting in and also preventing escape. Physical transformation is possible but is by spells from the book of pacts (and thus not restricted to vampires). Such transformations can be to guinea pigs, little people and even characters from Heidi. We get a pair of vampires defeated by aerobics, at one point. Vampires can smell blood type, Alice was invited because she is an O negative.

a toilet gagI really enjoyed this, irreverent and fun with a variety of humour. The cast was engaging and the play with genre conventions refreshing – more so than some of the standard spoofs that emerge from the Hollywood stable of film making. The effects worked well and little nuances were worthwhile. Nothing within the film was over-used, and the pace kept a nice speed. I’d recommend this one, with the caveat that humour is very much an individual thing. 7 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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