Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Stepdad's a Freakin' Vampire – review

Director: David Matheny

Release date: 2009

Contains spoilers

With a title like My Stepdad's a Freakin' Vampire you feel like you are going to get one of three things. Either a fun, campy romp that has cult written over it, or maybe a real stinker of a B movie or, finally, a Disney movie (okay the "freakin’" in the title is out of place but it otherwise fits into some of their pedigree).

What we actually got was none of the above. It isn’t a real stinker, not by real stinker values… that’s not to say it is a work of genius, just not a real stinker. It certainly isn’t a Disney but, by the opening credits, it seemed to aim for fun, campy romp, the credits wobbling away in such a manner that it seemed deliberate and hip.

Lahcen Anajjar as Rusty
The film is about Rusty (Lahcen Anajjar) and he isn’t exactly a n’er-do-well. His room is full of prestidigitator paraphernalia – it turns out that his dear departed father was a stage magician – and he certainly is wanting to be a showman. He has little respect for his new step-dad, Richard (Larry Peterson), who seems to dislike him (in a less than malevolent way, as the film starts, but given the title you know that isn’t going to last).

the other side of Richard
In the eyes of Stan, police officer and dad of Rusty’s best friend Travis (Brandon Martin), Rusty is disrespectful and gets Travis into trouble at school. The principle, known to Rusty as Mr B (Jeremy Spencer), dispairs – but then it is his own brother, Chuck (Casey Myers) , who has supplied the blade for Rusty’s science project trick guillotine. With mom out of town, however, Richard is going to show a new side of himself to Rusty.

a vampire
Richard is not only a vampire, he is the leader of all vampires. His vampire army are trapped in another dimension and the key was given to a bloodline of a knight to protect… that would be Rusty’s bloodline and the reason Richard married his mom. The vampire lore is a bit funky, however. Richard can walk in the sunlight – but his vampire brethren, when released, cannot.

impaled by broom
Gert (John Redmond), the school janitor, is a vampire hunter and runs a line in stakes. Indeed he rescues the boys from a turned Chuck by staking him with a broom. All well and good, but the stake doesn’t kill him, neither does self-impalement later. So, why the vampire hunter bothers with stakes… who knows, probably because they are meant to be used. They do discover that running a vampire down in a truck makes it explode in green goo. It is also the only film where you will see a vampire decapitated, the head continue to talk and then be microwaved (at least I think it is the only film, but stand to be corrected). At one point the dead are raised and you’d think they’d be zombies (as they are the long dead) but they seem to be vampires too.

hand from the earth
The problem with the film is threefold really. First is the characters. Teen boys run down someone and they think it is a Halloween reveller. They freak, of course, but as soon as they realise it is a vampire they are suddenly fine and dandy… the reaction didn’t work and I felt that a lot through the film, the characters were just slightly off-kilter. Next is the production and it is really a shame because I thought it teetered on the edge of being rather good for the budget, but stayed teetering and never quite crossed over. There is a mugginess to the film (which I can’t explain better than that, in honesty).

the raised dead
Finally there are the effects. Again, for the budget, they weren’t entirely bad. But… to illustrate… 15 year old number one son walked in as I watched the film and commented “worst effects ever”. Now he is being unfair (or, more honestly, I’ve not exposed him to the worst effects in other vampire movies), however the remark was telling. All I can really do is repeat that, for the budget, I have seen worse and that they gave them a go at least.

Which is the theme for the film, I’m afraid… they gave it a go at least… but I wasn’t as impressed as I should have been and the film gets 3.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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