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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Vamps
Directed by Amy Heckerling
Anchor Bay Entertainment 11/12 DVD/VHS Feature Film
PG-13 violent images, some drug material, sexual content, language

Writer and director Amy Heckerling was the creative force behind Clueless, Loser and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. After several duds, she has returned to the zest of her early work with this entertaining story about two female vampire friends in New York City who tap into the energy of night life and then retreat to sleep in their separate coffins during the day.

Goody (Alicia Silverstone) was changed into a vampire in 1841 and has participated in a lot of protests over time, including the abolitionist, women's suffrage, and Vietnam antiwar movements. Today's technology revolution hardly compares. Goody's not into computers and hasn't a clue about texting.

Her best friend is Stacy (Krysten Ritter) who was changed into a vampire in the 1980s by the same "stem" vampire, Cisserus (Sigourney Weaver). Whereas Goody worries about the future of society when everyone seems to be obsessed with screens — cellphones, computers, tv — she is delighted when tech-savvy Stacy is able to show her a computer-generated image of what she looks like; as vampires they don't look in mirrors.

Goody and Stacy attend Sanguinists Anonymous meetings where the vampires introduce themselves with the stats about how long they have abstained from feeding off humans; instead they drink rat blood. The community is upset because they have started to get official notices about audits or jury duty, activities that would flush them out into the light. They need to recruit some unlikely allies.

Things get complicated with Stacy meets Joey (Dan Stevens) in night school. The two are soon dating, even though his last name, Val Helsing, would give any vampire pause. An evening with his parents (Wallace Shawn and Kristen Johnston) proves awkward since his father immediately notices her pale skin and cold hands. If they are to be together, they are going to have to do something drastic. Meanwhile, an encounter with Danny (Richard Lewis), an old boyfriend from the 1960s, puts Goody in a nostalgic mood. In one scene, she relates to Stacy all the occupants over the years of a Greenwich Village storefront.

There is very little bloodshed in this snappy film with some funny one-liners and appealing performances by Alicia Silverstone and Krysten Ritter. Heckerling pokes fun at the excesses of contemporary culture, including the vampire craze propelled by the Twilight series; it's probably not a coincidence that the last of those movies hits theaters on the same weekend as this movie is released on DVD. Heckerling allows her characters to have fun with the silly vampire antics and then has the chutzpah to end the story with an act of sacrificial love.

 

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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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