..

AMERICAN VAMPIRE

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Johnny Venokur, Trevor Lassaver, Danny Hitt, Debora Xavier, Carmen Electra, Adam West
Director: Luis Esteban
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, English DTS Surround
Video: Standard 1.33:1
Studio: York/Maverick
Features: Commentary, Trailers
Length: 99 Minutes
Release Date: March 20, 2001

Film (zero stars)

PAGING MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER, YOU'RE HECKLES ARE CERTAINLY NEEDED!!

Movies have the ability to raise questions, and American Vampire raises a question indeed, and it raises such a question few films have been able to do, which is “Is it humanly possible for a movie to suck any worse than this?!” I am happy to say that I can provide an answer to this question, which is no. I seriously doubt that I will come across a movie as excruciatingly awful as this dreadful piece of garbage. Compared to this, Battlefield Earth is a masterpiece. Heck, I would rather endure a day long, repeated listening of William Shatner singing “Mr. Tambourine Man” than have to sit through this horrible excuse for entertainment. It's a movie that tries to be both a comedy and a horror movie about vampires at the same time. I would like to point out something to the filmmakers; there was a little movie made about five years ago called From Dusk Till Dawn, which did a much better and more professional job of entertaining and spoofing itself in the process, which this movie has failed miserably at.

I had kind of already predicted it would be somewhat non great before viewing it, except one element drew me in, which was Carmen Electra, one of most gorgeous women on the planet. Since she had top billing on this film, I was hoping to see a lot of her. Much to my surprise, in the midst of despising this movie already, I am sad to note that she was only in about three or four scenes, and she hardly had a line of dialogue to spare. I, mean, the movie didn't even spare me to catch of glimpse of her knockout figure. Honestly, if this was a two-hour movie about Carmen Electra's figure, I'd give it four stars on the spot, that's how much I am in love with her. It's perfectly clear that the filmmakers are using her small supporting role in the movie as the primary marketing tool to fans just like me who are going to be let down tremendously, just like me.

Anyway, enough of my disappointment concerning Ms. Electra's presence, let's talk about how bad the actual movie is. The story, or in this case the sorry excuse for one, simply involves a young slacker named Frankie (Trevor Lassaver), who has the house all to himself when his parents take a summer trip to Europe. He meets up with his best friend, Bogie (Danny Hitt), and the two plan to party the summer away (uh, I'm sorry, are we still stuck in the 80s, people?). One night on the beach, the two encounter a strange looking guy named Moondoggie (Johnny Venokur), who ends up conning his way into staying at Frankie's house. We know right away that Moondoggie is a vampire, because before the two guys meet him, Bogie and Frankie are attacked by a bat whose size is apparently that of an elephant, at least from the filmmakers' perspective. The stranger also brings with him two luscious babes named Katrina (Debora Xavier) and Sulka, played by Carmen Electra, my future wife ladies and gentleman, but only if Cameron Diaz rejects me first, lol.  Then you can pretty much predict the rest of the movie from there, vampires terrorize the party, young guy teams up with a former vampire slayer, in this case played by that of “Batman” himself Adam West, in what I suppose the filmmakers thought of as a wonderful in-joke (nice try, guys).

American Vampire appears as though it was intended to be nothing more than a B movie, but it doesn't even work on that level either. I can appreciate a movie that's as obviously stupid and knows that it is, but a movie that knows it is stupid, and is even more stupid in the process is a horrendously bad movie experience. My suggestion is to skip this movie, as if it never existed, and take up a better vampire flick, such as From Dusk Till Dawn, Fright Night, or John Carpenter's Vampires. You'll be glad you did!

Video **

American Vampire is presented in a full frame format, suggesting that it was meant to be kept away from theaters, which was very much a good thing. Picture quality is good at times, but from what I could tell, the picture was mostly soft, and not as clear as it could be. I try to steer clear of watching standard versions of movies on DVD, because they tend to be not as clear and as impressive, and also because widescreen is the big deal. However, on this disc, I didn't have much of an option, since only the standard version was available.

Audio **

The disc claims to have Dolby Digital 5.1 track, but from I could tell, the audio job wasn't all that impressive. I can certainly say that this is the first horror film I've seen on DVD where the impact that the format was there to enhance a creepy feeling, not that this movie provided it, but you'd simply expect more than the treatment that American Vampire gets.

Features **1/2

Essentially, this disc simply contains the trailer for this movie, which titles it as An American Vampire Story, implying that it was very hard to decide on what the title of the movie should be. It also features trailers for three other York/Maverick releases, Thrill Seekers, Prophet's Game, and The Hunger, and a very amusing commentary track meant to heckle the film much in the spirit of Mystery Science Theater, so it appears as if my request for them was somewhat fulfilled.

Summary:

American Vampire is one for those who want to make fun of a seriously bad movie. In fact, if I ever find myself watching it again, I'll be doing exactly that, because I can certainly say that it's the only thing the movie is good for. I strongly suggest avoiding this movie for any other reasons.