Amy Heckerling reunites with her ‘Clueless’ star Alicia Silverstone for a look at two undead girls trying to find love in New York City. It’s basically every romantic comedy from the past ten years with vampires added. While it isn’t as good as it could have been, it was cute enough for me to ignore some of the dialogue and low budget SFX.
Silverstone is Goody, a nostalgic woman always looking to the past because she has a hard time keeping up with all the new fang-led gadgets and slang. She was turned in 1841 by her “stem” or maker Ciccerus, played by Sigourney Weaver who really seemed to enjoy getting to ham it up in designer clothes. Her best friend and roommate Stacy, Krysten Ritter, is much younger having been turned in the 80’s, but still misses the good old days of Devo and big shoulder pads.
The girls refuse to drink the blood of humans, opting for the blood of the rats they catch on their exterminating job. They also prefer to be called “ELFs” or “Extended Life Forms” instead of the dreaded V-word. In between going out to clubs and night school, they try on outfits for the reckless Ciccerus who can’t see herself in the mirror. They also have a friend in “day player” Renfield, played by Zak Orth, who longs to be undead and fabulous like them.
For whatever reason, Goody has been lying about her age to Stacy since they met, blaming her knowledge of the past century on her love of The History Channel. To complicate things further, Goody sees her old love Danny (Richard Lewis), in the hospital while he is there taking care of his cancer stricken wife Angela, Marilu Henner.
Danny notices Goody, but she tells him that she is “Susan,” Goody’s daughter but they strike up a friendship anyways. Stacy becomes involved with Joey Van Helsing, played by cutie Dan Stevens, whose dad is the famous Dr. Van Helsing, Wallace Shawn. He and his wife (Kristen Johnston), instantly recognize that something isn’t right with her, but she and Joey continue to date and she even gets pregnant.
Every vampire movie has it’s own set of rules, and the dead being able to impregnate, or get pregnant, will never not be weird to me. On top of all of that, vamps are being audited and summoned for jury duty which would require them to go out into the daylight. This is when an unnecessary plot point where Danny tells the group of vampires at one of their ELF meetings about how the government spies on all of us through our phones, driving home Goody’s hatred of modern technology.
If the movie had stuck with the girls’ quest for something more than bar hopping and hookups with wannabe rock stars, it would have been a solid flick. Instead it ventured off into conspiracy-land, and then ended with the two friends deciding to kill their stem so they can be human again. There are some good laughs, but the “young people try too hard to be cool” dialogue was too forced. Maybe it was a joke to how people still quote ‘Clueless‘ 17 years after it came out. As Goody says in one scene, “acting young is getting old.”
Justin Kirk who plays a sleazy Ukranian vamp and Malcolm McDowell as Vlad The Impaler are decent here even though we don’t see much of them. I get what Amy and co were trying to do here, I just wish they had done it better.
So ‘Vamps‘ is worth checking out, even though it’s missing some bite.