Friday Film Review: Vamps (2012)

Tegan and I were looking up Wally Shawn yesterday evening, and we discovered he’d been in a 2012 film we’d never heard of called Vamps. Out of curiosity we watched the preview and, well…

So as you may have seen, the movie is written and directed by Amy Heckerling of  Fast Times at Ridgemont High fame, and it is exactly the kind of movie the trailer would lead you to expect. It’s sort of the Galaxy Quest of vampire films, and not just because Sigourney Weaver brings her best for it. It’s got a very ’90s feel, and fully embraces the fact that it is a trashy vampire comedy with an absurdly star-studded cast. In addition to Weaver and Shawn, we’ve got Alicia Silverstone, Kristen Ritter (nice to know why Jessica Jones is so strong), Richard Lewis (Prince John to you), and a myriad of others who came together for what we feel was a labor of love for Heckerling.

I’m unaccustomed to writing film reviews, but the terms “high camp” and “solid B movie” both come to mind. The plot keeps you guessing, the characters are over the top and absurdist, and yet it packs a powerful emotional punch. They might have left out a vampire trope or two, but not many, and Wallace Shawn makes a surprisingly believable Van Helsing, and a convincing overprotective father.

It’s genuine, goofy, and of course a bit gory. Most violence happens off-screen, and what we do see is pretty cartoonish and surprisingly not bloody. I will, however, give one content warning. There is a notorious clip from the 1929 French surrealist film Un Chien Andalou, which remains one of the most convincing and disturbing practical effects in film history. If you want to avoid it, look away for a minute or so when you see a black and white film clip involving a straight razor.

We’re adding this to our list of movies to force our friends to watch.

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