Sunday, May 3, 2009

Teen Vampire Fun

Time to broaden your cinematic horizons again with a film that has been out-of-print for quite a long while. It came out during the teen film craze of the 80s to fuse teens, comedy and horror all together. It is much closer to Teen Wolf than Return of the Living Dead but that does not mean it is not great. AT least it's not Twilight. If you have not seen this in a long time, never watched, never heard of it or just would like to hear what I have to say - read on for my comments.


In the eighties there was a rush of the teen sex comedy. Plenty of randy teenagers trying to lose their virginity at any cost could never run out of plots, especially when they began to mix genres. The young virginal boy is seduced by vampire and slowly turns into a member of the undead family. No, I'm not talking about Jim Carrey in Once Bitten. Though the plot does have some similarity to that of 1988's My Best Friend is a Vampire.

While delivering groceries one day Jeremy (Robert Sean Leonard) meets a curious woman who seems to want him rather badly. When he goes back he is bitten in the act of making love after being interrupted by who he thinks is the woman's husband. Actually it is Professor Leopold McCarthy (David Warner) and his bumbling sidekick Grimsdyke (Paul Wilson) - vampire hunters. Over the next couple of days strange things happen like his lust for protein, more specifically blood, and he seems to be followed everywhere. Soon it becomes apparent that he is indeed a vampire. While he tries to woo the girl he has a crush on, Darla (Cheryl Pollak), he has to deal with his newfound immortality and try not to catch a stake through the heart from McCarthy.

What you have to love about movies from the eighties is the complete lack of reasoning. Not to say this still does not occur in film today, it just seemed a bit more prevalent in comedies twenty years ago. When Jeremy does not see his reflection in the mirror he does not freak out like one would think, instead he says, aloud, that the mirror must be broken. What kind of reasoning is this? A few minutes later in the flick he meets Darla's parents (Kathy Bates plays her mom) before their date the dad takes a couple of Polariods of the happy couple. After they leave he sees that only his daughter is in the picture and thinks the camera must be broken. Nevermind that where Jeremy was standing you can see everything behind him crystal clear, sometimes when cameras break they just see through certain people.

However, the aforementioned illogical thinking does not take away from this film. This comedic look at becoming a teenage vampire is not to be taken too seriously. While the script is not perfect it has just the right amount of horror and comedy elements to make it something fans of both genres can enjoy. Comedy fans will not be turned off by gore or scares, but the normal vampiric conventions will surely satiate horror fans. It has probably been quite a while since anyone has seen this, save for late night cable, since it has been out-of-print for some time. The performances are decent by the majority, though some smaller characters could use some work. Veteran actor Rene Auberjonois has a part as a sort of vampire trainer to Jeremy. Auberjonois, along with Warner round elevate the cast, while Paul Wilson's (who played the barfly Paul on Cheers) over-the-top cheesy performance drops the films credibility a few points. All in all it evens out to your everyday eighties flick.

After seeing this on video, and a few years ago on cable I have been wanting a copy and luckily Lionsgate has made this a reality. MBFIAV is part of The Lost Collection they have recently started to release. A series of never released movies in most every genre that are light on pretty much everything. The only bonus feature here is a trivia track, they did not even include a trailer. When was the last time you bought a DVD that did not have the trailer? I thought it was a standard issue kind of thing. The biggest complaint about this release, and most of the others in Lionsgate's new series, has to be the bonehead decision to make this the full screen presentation. That's right, not even the option of the widescreen. At least the prices are low, around ten bucks, and the fans will probably want this in their collection. The Lost Collection is a great thing I just hope on the next wave of releases, if there are any, they give us more extras and a better transfer.


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