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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Vamps

November 12th, 2012

Vamps - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Vamps was written and directed by Amy Heckerling and stars Alicia Silverstone. The pair previously worked together on Clueless, which is arguably the highlight of the careers of both women. This film won't be as big as Clueless was in theaters (although bizarrely, it did better in its second weekend than its first). But will it find an audience on the home market?

The Movie

The film begins with Goody introducing herself to us. She was bitten in 1841 and turned into a vampire. Since then, she's learned to adapt and live off of rats. As the world became more modern, life for vampires improved. Electrical lights meant the nighttime was just as exciting as the day time. Subway systems meant traveling was easier. Except for that time in the 1960s when she fell in love, she's had a great time. And now, she has her best friend, Stacy, who is a much younger vampire. Goody helps Stacy deal with being a member of the undead, while Stacy helps Goody deal with the modern day technology like e-mail and smart phones.

While at work, they are summoned by their stem (the vampire that created them), Ciccerus. Ciccerus is an old-school vampire, so much so that she's a little disappointed in her sires. (This is especially true when she finds out Goody and Stacy don't even eat pigeons, because they became too attached to them.) Later that night, Goody meets Vadim, another old school vampire. After Goody blows him off, Vadim warns that if their stem dies, they revert to their actual age. It's not a very fun night for Goody, especially after a little incident with a drummer and a nose bleed. At least she has Sanguines Anonymous to help out. (It's a help group for vampires who have sworn off human blood.) It is a little comforting, especially when Stacy explains how Goody saved her life, not just convincing Ciccerus to turn her instead of just eating her, but also how becoming a vampire got her off drugs and gave her a second chance at life.

Meanwhile, one of Ciccerus' victims was found by the police. Cut into pieces and drained of blood. An investigator from Homeland security, Dr. Van Helsing, is very interested in the case. He's especially interested in seeing if they found his neck. It doesn't take a vampire fanatic to hear the name Van Helsing to know where this is going. In fact, there appears to be a conspiracy against the vampires.

Later, while at night school, Stacy meets a boy, Joey, and there's an instant connection. (He stares at her boobs while she's not looking, she stares at his jugular.) Even after she learns his last name is Van Helsing, she still wants to date him. Goody is not happy with that, because she's convinced he's a relative of the vampire hunter (and of course he is) but she doesn't have time to fret about Stacy's possible relationship, because she has a relationship issue of her own. Her former lover from the 1960s, Danny Rutherford, sees her at work and tries to talk to her. She claims Goody was her mother, but he still wants to talk. Will she finally reveal her secret?

Vamps currently have exactly 50% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, and that's pretty accurate assessment of the movie. There's a lot that works, including the chemistry between the two leads, Alicia Silverstone and Krysten Ritter. In fact, there's a lot of excellent acting in this movie, which is arguably its biggest asset. Shawn Wallace, Sigourney Weaver, Richard Lewis, Malcolm McDowell, and others are all great. There are some parts of the movie that are funny and touching. Goody's yearning for the past hits the right notes. There are also parts that are cheesy and corny. The movie spends a lot of time poking fun at our obsessive culture, especially social media; however, this part of the movie isn't as sharp as it needed to be. Also, the film only cost $2 million to make, and you can tell at times. There were several special effects that were weak, sometimes distractingly so.

Overall, there is enough that works in Vamps that it is worth recommending, but there is also enough that misses that it doesn't have the same replay value as Clueless. Then again, few films do.

The Extras

There are no extras on the Blu-ray. The film does look good with excellent DVD levels, lively colors, deep blacks. There are no problems with compression issues or digital manipulation. The audio is likewise solid with clear dialogue and good use of the surround sound speakers. The Blu-ray also only costs 30% more than the DVD, which is an acceptable price.

The Verdict

Vamps is a fun movie that is worth checking out. However, the replay value isn't great and the DVD and the Blu-ray have no extras, so perhaps a rental is better than a purchase.

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Filed under: Video Review, Vamps, Sigourney Weaver, Alicia Silverstone, Amy Heckerling, Justin Kirk, Richard Lewis, Malcolm McDowell, Krysten Ritter, Wallace Shawn, Dan Stevens