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  Vamps Blood SistersBuy this film here.
Year: 2012
Director: Amy Heckerling
Stars: Alicia Silverstone, Krysten Ritter, Dan Stevens, Richard Lewis, Wallace Shawn, Sigourney Weaver, Malcolm McDowell, Kristen Johnson, Zak Orth, Justin Kirk, Scott Thomson, Marilu Henner, Todd Barry, Taylor Negron, Brin Backer, Gael García Bernal
Genre: Horror, Comedy, Romance
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Goody (Alicia Silverstone) has been around since the nineteenth century, so how has she lasted to present day 2012? That'll probably be down to her being a vampire who has seen America change dramatically in many ways, though in others it's remained much the same: people will always want to socialise, and Goody has her own best friend Stacy (Krysten Ritter) to help her out in that department. Stacy was turned into a vampire in 1992 when she was twenty years old, so like Goody has stayed looking the same as she did when the so-called "stem" sank her teeth into her; Goody's stem is considerably less moral than she and Stacy are, for she is Cisserus (Sigourney Weaver), and she looks down on these two for their vow never to take a human life...

It might seem strange for renowned vegan Alicia Silverstone to be playing a bloodsucker, essentially a carnivore, but here she was reunited with writer and director Amy Heckerling two decades after their huge success with high school comedy Clueless. Vamps didn't make anywhere near the ripples that their previous project had, basically an indie movie taking a comedic look at the popular obsession with vampire fiction by turning its fanged heroines into party girls with their own way of talking, except that way of talking brought up references which were informed by Goody's favourite pop culture of many years past, with a heavy dose of Golden Age Hollywood entering into the mix.

Somehow, this didn't create a musty, dusty bunch of nostalgia but thanks to Heckerling's bright and chatty script was consistently amusing, even laugh out loud funny in places, in a manner suggesting it wasn't taking itself too seriously until the occasional moments where it slipped into sincerity, most notably when Goody begins to think she is probably getting too old for these times which revealed the actual impressions of the screenwriter who sees fads and crazes and various popularities come and go and wishes there was something more concrete to hold onto other than what looks more like ephemera with each passing year. If that sounds a bit heavy, well, it was, but Heckerling wasn't going to get down in the dumps about it, she was going to do something positive.

Therefore at times Vamps came across like a history lesson, though not so much that the fun was elbowed out of the way, far from it, the film absolutely welcomed the things in life (or undeath) that made it worth living, those times when you were hanging out with your friends, watching your favourite movie or hearing your favourite music, going out dancing, the reasons we keep going because there are many aspects to existence we enjoy. There are more serious reasons than that to keep going, and there was room for those too, not to spoil the final act, but Stacy finds an ideal boyfriend in Joey (Dan Stevens), the catch being his surname, Van Helsing; somewhat improbably, Joey with his English accent is the son of Wallace Shawn and Kristen Johnson, dedicated vampire hunters as the name suggests.

Meanwhile Goody reconnects with an old flame, former sixties activist Danny (Richard Lewis) who is now getting on in years and is astonished to see she doesn't look any different (Alicia is well-preserved). Danny's wife is suffering from cancer, another indication of the more tragic side to living that Vamps skips around when not being playful, which is most of the time, with deliberately goofy special effects at points reminiscent of Ray Harryhausen and such sights as Alicia and Krysten sticking straws in obviously fake rats then sucking the blood out of them as if they were cans of soft drink (this is how they get around the whole neck-biting bother). Also showing up was Malcolm McDowell as oldest vampire Vlad Tepes who we have to assume is Dracula under an alias, though the Count's name is never invoked: this was not entirely dedicated to the traditions of vampire fiction. That said, what it did with what it had was genuinely engaging, Goody and Stacy a lovely example of non-bitchy gal pals oddly not seen often enough on the big screen; for that alone this was worth a look. Music by David Kitay.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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