Saturday, June 02, 2007

Teenage Space Vampires – review


Director: Martin Wood

Release date: 1998

Contains spoilers

Some films have a strange lineage, take this one for instance – a joint Canadian/Romanian film set in California. Unfortunately this leads to one of the biggest problems with the film, some very bad dubbing of the Romanian cast and, bizarrely, the one character who is definitely meant to be Romanian isn’t. Oh hum…

UFOAs well as this little issue is the concept of the plot – which is preposterous to say the least. The film begins with a scene of night-time suburbia and a man walking his dog. A young lad, Billy (Robin Dunne), is asleep when a streetlight explodes. Car alarms and dogs go mad and Billy awakes. He looks out of his window and sees a glowing cloud and inside it, a spaceship.

UFO parkedThe next day, on his paper route, Billy is going past the house of his teacher, Danvers (Richard Clarkin) – a Romanian football (or soccer for our American cousins) player who was involved in a plane crash twenty years earlier and never left America. Near his house is a strange artefact flanked by a couple of gargoyles. It wasn’t there the day before and Billy is convinced it is his UFO.

Robin Dunne as BillyAt school, whilst ridiculed by his sister, Katie (Lindy Booth) and her friends and bullied by jocks Andy (Adi Cuclea) and Randy (Claudiu Cuclea), Billy manages to persuade his friend Kevin (Mak Fyfe) to ‘borrow’ a school video camera to get footage of it – before a SETI team arrive. In the afternoon lesson they are given the history of the, allegedly haunted, disused coal mine in which the world’s largest diamond was found (and subsequently lost).

funky eyesThey check out the artefact before being driven off by Mrs Gibson (Silvia Nastase) who has bite marks on her neck. The next day Billy looks at the artefact again, the street seems deserted and no one has picked up their papers. After he has gone Danvers approaches the artefact, his eyes flash vampish and he steps into it.

SETI arrive, in the form of Hank (James Kee), Mike (Liviu Lucaci) and Paula (Bianca Brad). They notice a hot spot on their equipment and go to check it out, it is the artefact and, as they arrive, Billy has touched it and been thrown back by a green discharge. They send him to school and local vampire residents get Paula and Mike.

Cosmin Sofron as VlathosSuffice it to say that it is up to Billy and Hank to save the day from evil space vampire Vlathos (Cosmin Sofron) who has a plan to steal the light of the sun and moon, during a lunar eclipse, into the diamond and turn the world into a hunting ground for his species… and I can’t go on with the plot.. It doesn’t improve.

bad hickeyLore wise we have evil space vampire, who cannot go into the sun and is injured by being stabbed by a shard of the UFO that crashed in Roswell. His turned minions are not immortal and can go out into the sun. A bite turns someone, so anyone with a suspicious hickey is not to be trusted. They either produce a grinning set of fang like teeth and funky eyes or turn into a scaly version of a grey alien. If the evil space vampire is killed, those turned will return to being human and in the meantime they can be killed by any human killing method.

Kevin as a vampireThe concept of a diamond being able to hold the light of the sun (why the light of the moon as well given that is reflected sunlight doesn’t make much sense, but what does) is pretty far out and the need to do this at the lunar eclipse is explained by some meaningless techno babble about gravity wells.

The monsters look a little rubbery but the morphing effects actually work quite well. The gargoyles are like sentient watchdog cameras and they morph too.

cross between a vampire and a grey alien, perhapsActing is about at the level you’d expect and I have already mentioned the awful dubbing.

To be honest, as preposterous as it is, the film does have a miniscule undercurrent of charm (just a little) and I have seen a lot worse. Then again I have seen so much better. Definitely aimed at a pg audience or lower, who might just take in the crap science and crapper theories, 2 out of 10 seems more than fair.

The imdb page is here.

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