Writer/director Amy Heckerling made a name for herself in the ‘80s and ‘90s with Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Look Who’s Talking and Clueless. After her last two features, 2000’s Loser and 2007’s I Could Never Be Your Woman were colossal failures, Heckerling has returned with Vamps. While not entirely successful the film has some of the “spunky” humor that made Heckerling’s films such a success in the past.
Alicia Silverstone stars as Goody, a 120 year-old vampire living as a modern girl in New York City with her newly turned vamp best friend Stacy (Krysten Ritter). Having chosen to survive on the blood of rats instead of humans, the two engage in a routine of night life—college and work—as well as sisterly chatter. Stacy finds herself falling for a dashing British import named Joey Van Helsing (Dan Stevens). There’s a problem though: Joey was born into a long line of vampire hunters and his father Dr. Van Helsing (Wallace Shawn), has his suspicions about Stacy’s true intentions. Goodie and Stacy have a pretty sweet life. Unfortunately, their maker is a crazy ego-maniac by the name of Cisserus (Sigourney Weaver). While all the vampires are trying their best to keep a low profile, Cisserus is living the high life and drawing much attention to herself, meaning it’s only a matter of time before Dr. Van Helsing finds out who Stacy really is.
Meanwhile, Goody faces a dilemma when she runs into old boyfriend Danny (Richard Lewis) who was the love of her life. His reappearance forces her to evaluate whether she wants to reconnect to the years she left behind. Danny is a counter-culture type she met back in the ‘60s and while they can’t really reconnect because his wife is dying of cancer, there’s definitely still a spark between the two. Naturally, several shenanigans occur between the two. Also, while government officials try to interfere in the vampire’s lives, Goody is more motivated than ever to find a way to break Ciccerus’s control, hoping to preserve Stacy’s bright future in the process.
Heckreling has a lot going on here and I respect her attempts to make a statement about technology—Goody is her mouthpiece, as she takes every opportunity to chide us for spending time using Facebook, Twitter, SMS and texting instead of talking to each other. Unfortunately, Vamps doesn’t quite capture the tone of the culture the way Fast Times at Ridgemont High or Clueless did. Nonetheless, it’s impossible to hate a film that offers a gravity-defying sex scene and Todd Barry in fright makeup wrestling with Wallace Shawn. It would be a stretch to say that Vamps is worth purchasing, but it’s definitely worth a rent.
Presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, Vamps’ 1080p transfer looks pretty spectacular. The vibrant, candy colored palette comes through very nicely and the photography is sharp and detailed. Skin tones look natural throughout and contrast remains consistent. With no digital anomalies to speak of, this is a fine transfer.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack mostly utilizes the front channels, with some music and atmospherics in the surrounds. This is a dialogue heavy film, and all the words are clear throughout. There’s some bass involvement; nothing that shakes the room, but that’s not necessary here.
English SDH and Spanish subtitles are available.
There are no special features included.