After moving to a new town, two brothers find out the area is infested with vampires.
As I sat down to watch this movie on a Saturday afternoon with my roommates, I had in my mind an image of what this movie would be; I was hoping for something along the lines of “An American Werewolf in London”- a film that is both hilarious and sometimes a little graphic. Instead, what I received was Kiefer Sutherland cackling while he flew through the air and said things like “Join us, Michael,” multiple times. While there were a few fun bits in this film, I was more shocked that this was considered a cult classic. But then, movies that are considered cult classics are strange. A lot of times, I feel like the first time you see the film sets how that movie will be forever set in your mind. For people who say this film in theaters as teenagers in the summer of ’87, I’m sure they still find this movie awesome. It’s everything that a ‘cool’ 80s movie needs: feathered and bleached hair, a rock and roll soundtrack, some cool gory practical effects, and an overall feeling like “The Goonies”, only with vampires. For those that grew up on this movie, I’m sure they still find it amazing, and I can sort of see why- it appeals to an audience that’s still nostalgic for that time. For me, however, I’ve seen films that parody this movie before I ever saw this one, and those films did it better. This movie certainly didn’t live up to its reputation- it wasn’t terrible, but it certainly wont be one I ever go out of my way to see again.
The Bloodsucking Brady Bunch
Michael (Jason Patric, “Speed 2: Cruise Control”) and Sam (Corey Haim, “License to Drive”) move with their mother Lucy (Dianne Wiest, “Hannah and Her Sisters”) to a new town where their Grandpa (Barnard Hughes, “Tron”) lives. As the boys adjust to the new town, their mother starts dating a friendly man named Max (Edward Herrmann, “Annie”). Micheal meets some strange people who live in an underground hall including David (Kiefer Sutherland, “Dark City”) and Star (Jami Gertz, “Sixteen Candles”) who force Michael to drink something that makes him start experiencing changes to his body. Meanwhile, Sam meets the Frog brothers, Edgar (Corey Feldman, “Stand By Me”) and Alan (Jamison Newlander, “The Blob”) who insist that the town is crawling with vampires. At first, Sam thinks the Frog brothers are crazy, but the longer the boys stay, the less crazy the idea sounds.
So first and foremost, I do appreciate the tongue in cheek humor that permeates throughout this movie, but I will say that not all of it works entirely. About 50% of the lines that were meant to be funny landed for me, and the other 50% were bad enough to make me want to roll my eyes. There were some rather clever lines that made me chuckle (“Read the TV Guide, and you don’t need a TV”), but a lot of the humor felt forced. The biggest problem this movie has is mistaking pop culture references for humor; a good example of this is when Laddie (Chance Michael Corbitt, “The Rocketeer”), a little vampire boy (who hasn’t fully changed- but more on that later) attacks one of the boys. The boy who he attacks screams: “It’s the attack of Eddie Munster!” That’s not a joke, that’s just saying something we all recognize and hoping that we latch onto it. There are a dozen more lines like this too, and every time it just feels like the writers are trying to connect with the kids that would come to see this movie. It’s as if they keep saying, “Remember comic books? Remember 50s TV shows? Remember rock and roll? Remember every other vampire movie you’ve seen?” I wanted to yell at the screen, “Yes, of course I get these references; now do something with your story, don’t just try to be cool!”
But alas, be cool was all this movie aimed to do, and that became more and more evident with Kiefer Sutherland’s character and his character’s droogs. Kiefer spends every moment he’s on screen just completely chewing the scenery. I can’t say I’ve ever been a huge fan of Kiefer in general, but his acting here was so over the top that it’s laughable. Corey Feldman also thought he was hot stuff with his red bandana tied around his head, and he comes off so cocksure that it becomes more annoying than anything else. Even Jason Patric, who plays Michael, is rather rough, and the sex scene between Michael and Star is the most 80s thing I’ve ever seen. It feels incredibly dated and is borderline awkward to watch. There are some parts that are cool near the end of this film. When the movie finally starts to ramp up, and the boys start fighting back against the vampires, there are one or two honestly interesting kills, but then Schumacher ruins it by having a giant explosion at the end. I think the thing that drove me nuts about the climax was the fact that they didn’t stick with their own rules of how vampires worked. Vampires aren’t allow into your house unless you invite them, but somehow they still find their way in. They also twist the known rules a bit to hide a reveal until the end, and that sort of worked.
I think my problem with this movie was that I didn’t see it at the right time. If I’d have been a kid in the 80s, I probably would’ve loved this movie and have been able to look past all the little things that irked me about it. As it is now, I just can’t bring myself to care about the film; I don’t hate it, but I also don’t particularly like it either. This is a film that I don’t think I’ll ever fully grasp the allure of, but that’s all right; different movies are made for different people. You might like this movie; I couldn’t care less about it.
This is part of our 31 Nights of Thrills Series. Not all of the movies we review for this series will be strictly horror, but all will have something to do with the spirit of things spooky or scary. If you like those types of movies, be sure to check back throughout the month of October!
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