Reuniting Clueless star Alicia Silverstone with Clueless writer/director Amy Heckerling is Vamps, a goofy but charming comedy that follows two female vampires living an enternally-young life in New York City, while also abstaining from indulging in drinking human blood. Vamps benefits well from its excellent cast and it comes close to being a solid comedy, but it doesn't quite hit the mark.
Vamps follows Silverstone as Goody, a vampire who lives with her BFF Stacy (Krysten Ritter) in New York. The two share an apartment and mainly feed off the blood of Manhattan's ample rodent population, spending their days asleep in their coffins and their nights trolling the town. They enjoy hitting the clubs and trying to live fun lives, though we often see them complaining about modern life and reminiscing about the good old days. Stacy was turned in the early 90s, while - unbeknownst to Stacy - Goody is much older than that, and both more experienced with a deeper historical perspective. In addition to occasionally dating and club hopping (and trying to avoid drinking human blood), the duo also attend college and are probably as non-threatening as two vampires can get. They even attend group meetings with other vampires trying to avoid feeding from humans.
Rounding out the cast are Sigourney Weaver as Goody and Stacy's "stem" vampire Ciccerus (she made them), Wallace Shawn and Kristen Johnston as Dr. and Mrs. Van Helsing respectively (as you can imagine they're not fans of vampires), Dan Stevens as Joey, Stacy's love interest, and Richard Lewis as Danny, a man Goody once romanced. And then we have Justin Kirk playing Vadim, a Ukrainian stem vampire who really plays up the whole ‘creature of the night’ thing in a humorous way. Malcolm McDowell also plays a friendly vampire. Sigourney Weaver is great, as always, as is Wallace Shawn, another Clueless alum reuniting with Heckerling for this film.
Tonally, Vamps reminds me a little bit of Robert Zemeckis' Death Becomes Her in the way it offers a slight edge of dark humor and some exaggerated special effects (the sight of Kristen Ritter crab-walking down the side of a building will stay with you). Like Death Becomes Her, the emphasis is on two not-quite-living females, although Goody and Stacy are on much better terms than Helen and Madeline. Vamps may have been better off either playing up the goofy humor or toning it down. Instead, it falls somewhere in between, making it difficult for the movie to find a rhythm and fully become whatever it is Heckerling wanted it to be. There's also the issue of the story, which seems to jump around a bit, never really building up any suspense or momentum before it finally ends.
On the more positive side, Vamps has a great cast and a lot of funny moments. I also loved the flashback scenes, which give us a glimpse of New York through different time periods, and Goody's life through the years. Silverstone and Ritter have great chemistry together, and that definitely elevates the movie overall. If nothing else, these two make Vamps a fun watch. It's also a sweet story and one that wraps up with a conclusion that's surprisingly emotional given the tone of the rest of the movie. It may not be an instant classic, but Vamps approaches modern-day Vampire life from a fun, less gory (for the most part) perspective. It makes good use of its cast, and the whole endeavor amounts to an amusing, charming, fun girl-movie about vampires.
Vamps' Blu-ray is a pretty bare bones set. The cover features the two leads dressed in cute black dresses and set above a New York City skyline, playing up their love for Manhattan nightlife. With the exception of a couple of trailers that play before the menu loads, and aren't accessible from the menu, the Blu-ray lacks in bonus material. A digital copy, a commentary or some deleted scenes/outtakes would have been nice, but it looks like the additional features are limited to the option for English and Spanish subtitles, which really isn’t a feature.
Then again, given how limited the release of this film was, at the very least, the Blu-ray will allow people to see the movie.
Reviewed By: Kelly West
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