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Vamps (A Movie Review)



Vamps director Amy Heckerling has a good track record for taking books and turning them into light comic entertainment. Her two biggest films are Clueless, in which she gave a glossy 90s sheen to Jane Austen’s Emma, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which fictionalized Cameron Crowe’s non-fiction sociology experiment about California teens in the early 80s. With Vamps, she takes the Dracula legend, lightens it up and turns it into a cute romantic comedy and fish-out-of-water tale. And while Vamps has some really nice parts, it is generally not close to being a complete bullseye.  Those other two are deserved classics.  Vamps will never be in that rarified air.

That said, taken on its own light level, Vamps is rather amusing.

In Vamps, Heckerling teams up with her Clueless star Alicia Silverstone again (also continuing the Clueless nostalgia Wallace Shawn has supporting roles in both films.)  Clueless made Silverstone a star in the 90s and now that her career has returned to more earthbound levels, it is a nice reminder of the actress’ natural likability and charm.  She plays Goody, a 200 year old vampiress who is trying to deal with life in modern Manhattan.

Her best friend is also a vampiress, Stacy (Krysten Ritter, a.k.a. The B—- in Apt. 23) has only been undead for about 20 years.  They share a bachelorette pad (complete with matching coffins), go out to the clubs most nights and sleep all day.  They are sweet, good vampires – they refuse to drink human blood, instead surviving on the blood of small (non-cute) animals, usually rats.  In fact, these two gorgeous night-crawlers have a very unlikely gig as late night exterminators – but it does get them a huge food supply.

Their simple lives become complicated – as life so often does – because of love.  Stacy meets a hot British grad student (Dan Stevens), not realizing that he is a non-believing member of the legendary vampire-hunting Van Helsing family.  His father (Shawn) is certain that his son’s odd new girlfriend is a vampire, which turns out to be the ultimate in dating a girl your parents hate.

In the meantime, Goody runs across an aging lawyer (Richard Lewis) who she had dated back in the 60s and always felt was the one who got away – but how can she explain that she hasn’t aged forty years as he has?

In the meantime, their crazed Mistress (Sigourney Weaver) is on a killing bender and causing all the other vampires to be in danger of being hunted down.

It all sounds vaguely dramatic, but it really isn’t much.  Vamps is light as a bat and almost never takes itself seriously.  It is so slick that the one semi-tragic thing that does happen in the film happens on a crowded, spectro-vision lit Times Square.

First things first. Silverstone and Ritter have a nice chemistry together.  And Heckerling’s direction is probably much more skilled than Heckerling’s screenplay deserves.  It has an extremely strong cast beyond that – hell, they even got Gael Garcia Bernal to play a cheesy pop star on Telemundo and Marilu Henner to be a critically ill hospital patient.

You just can’t take Vamps seriously.  It’s all rather silly, a tiny bit stupid, but more amusing than it really has any right to be.

Alex Diamond

Copyright ©2012 All rights reserved. Posted: November 13, 2012.

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