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Blu-ray Review: "Vamps"
on November 28, 2012
Amy Heckerling's name on a film as director is usually enough to get me to watch it. She has an undeniable talent for presenting life lessons through her work while capturing a snapshot of a certain cultural time period, whether it be the 1980s through "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," the 1990s with "Clueless," or the 2000's with "Loser" and the CW's successful "Gossip Girl." "Vamps" is Heckerling's latest movie and continues the trend.
Goody (Alicia Silverstone) and Stacy (Krysten Ritter) are modern day vampires living life to its fullest. Every night they feed on rats which are easy to come by thanks to the rodent control business they work for. They're part of a new movement of vampires who don't drink the blood of humans. After work, they hit the clubs and hot spots of New York City before heading home at dawn for a good day's sleep in their coffins.
The girl's soon begin to realize that being young forever isn't all it's cracked up to be. Goody has trouble adjusting to the modern technologies and trends of the 21st century. Stacy finds herself falling in love with the son (Dan Stevens) of the descendant of Van Helsing and longing to be human again. Unfortunately, the only way for the two to get their wishes of ending their immortality and getting on with their real human lives is by killing their maker, Cisserus (Sigourney Weaver).
Heckerling does a superb job exploring the mid-20s age range and our difficulty facing the fears we have or had of growing up and getting older. Being a woman in her late 50s, she has a lot of experience dealing with the subject matter. It just so happens this time around she uses vampires as her vehicle to deliver the messages. What viewers get is an entertaining and humorous film that leaves you with something to think about in the end.
The cast is a very impressive combination of talents. Many of them have appeared in Heckerling's films in the past, giving this a sort of "connection" to her other works. Besides Silverstone, we get Wallace Shawn ("Clueless"), Meredith Scott Lynn ("Night at the Roxbury"), and a cameo by Brian Backer (Mark "Rat" Ratner in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"). Add to that the star power of Sigourney Weaver, Malcolm McDowell, Richard Lewis, and Marilu Henner and you have a winning combination.
The audio and video quality of "Vamps" for its Blu-ray release is hit and miss. The 5.1 surround sound does a great job administering the sounds of New York City around a home theater. However, the lighting for some scenes is drastically different from shot to shot. This caused me some distraction when watching the film. There's also some questionable CGI and green screen work, but for the most part the picture is clean and vibrant.
I'm disappointed in the lack of special features for the movie. Amy Heckerling is the type of director and writer movie enthusiasts would love to hear talk about the making of one of her movies. I'd be willing to bet Blu-ray producers could have convinced Alicia Silverstone and Krysten Ritter to be involved in some sort of commentary as well. It was probably just a question of budget to put together featurettes or a commentary track.
The "Vamps" Blu-ray is a required purchase for any fan of Amy Heckerling's works. Her trademark off-beat charm, sincerity, and wit emanates from the film. Fans of light vampire fare will probably find more enjoyment in this than ones who enjoy the harder edged gore flicks like "30 Days of Night" and "Fright Night." I'm a huge horror fan and still found it enjoyable.