Daily Archives: 01/02/2012

A Season of Vamps – 5 Toothless Bloodsucking Fiends

Image via Geek Details

Not all pop cultural vampires have the longevity of a Count Dracula, the popularity of an Edward Cullen or the commitment to numeracy of a Count Von Count.

There are, it’s sad to say, a collection of fanged fiends whose legend does not proceed them and whose ability to strike fear into our hearts is roughly the equal of this guy:

That's COUNT Duckula to you, Internet Snarker...

I’m taking my life in my very hands by alerting you to the five feeblest film fangsters of recent times – a collection of vampires so useless that you won’t even need to employ garlic and can leave your stake at home.

(1) Dracula in “Van Helsing”, played by Richard Roxburgh.

There were many things to dislike about Stephen Sommer’s 2004 monster mash, “Van Helsing”.  The ‘throw everything into the mix and hope something works’ script.  Kate Beckinsale’s nominally Romanian accent.  CG apparently bashed out on a Friday afternoon by Cletus, the work experience lad.  None of these things on their own were enough to damn this movie into no-franchise-land on their own.

I’m pointing an accusatory finger in the direction of this movie’s depiction of Dracula.   Note, not actor Richard Roxburgh – he’s giving it his very best and probably is doing his best with a screenplay which sees the heralded king of all vampires as playing second or third fiddle to the Wolfman and Frankenstein’s Monster.  That, as you can probably guess, doesn’t make for a fair fight – if this movie isn’t very interested in the ostensible bad guy, why are the audience supposed to be?

And then there’s the hair: what is going on with that ‘do?

(2) Deacon Frost in “Blade”, played by Stephen Dorff.

Whether you think of him as a simpering club kid, GQ undead man-about-town or reality tv douche-in-waiting, Deacon Frost is the bad guy in the first and arguably best “Blade” film and rarely has a villain been so outmatched by the hero of a story.

That Blade’s mission to rid the world of vampires is thwarted for so long is a surprise in itself when you consider who’s he matched against – charitably, Dorff isn’t exactly physically imposing off-screen and the disparity in physical presence between the actor and star Wesley Snipes is almost comedic in the film.  Viewing the climactic sword fight in the film is akin to watching a nightclub bully pick on one of the “Big Bang Theory” nerds and beat the tar out of him – it’s just not in any way a fair fight.

The disparity is addressed somewhat in the third film, when Snipes is pitched into battle against Dominic Purcell, an actor whose physical size suggests Marvel’s ‘The Thing’ rendered into human form anew.

Frost is the whiny, power-fantasizing nerd writ large and often comes across in the film as more of a junior corporate executive on the make than the deadly creature of the night that we’re lead to see him as.  I guess that’s an interesting way of bringing the vampire archetype into the present day but making him a white-collar, chic club promoter/future business leader of tomorrow just makes him less of a threat in my eyes.

(3) Dracula in “Dracula 2000”, played by Gerard Butler.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to lose my fear of the creatures of the night when you can see their dental fillings.

(4) Violet in “Ultraviolet”, played by Milla Jovovich.

Technically, she’s not a vampire – she’s a ‘hemophage’, a futuristic super warrior with amazing abilities created after a global epidemic ravages the planet in 2078.  But, for our purposes, she’s all tooth and no franchise.  What irks me most about this film is that it makes me have to resort to clichés to adequately explain my antipathy toward it – all style, substance conspicuous by its absence, generic and vaguely religious bad guys running the show, imperilled child whose the key to solving the problem.

It’s a comic book movie without a comic to base itself on and has a future world and story so desperately familiar that it’s hard to credit that somebody actually wrote it – it seems far more likely that some time-poor Hollywood creative type urgently jabbed plot points into screen-writing software, printed it off, cut up the paper, threw it into the air and filmed whatever landed on the ground.

And I love me some Milla Jovovich – its not as though most of the movies that she appears in are award calibre fare and this is something which unduly besmirches her filmography.  I adore a good B-movie and this isn’t one of those – it’s the kind of thing that you might watch late at night on cable and hope that it does it’s job and sends you off to sleep before too long.

(5) Amilyn, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, played by Paul Reubens.

And finally, we come to the only vampire on the list who’s deliberately a bit rubbish and intentionally crap – the splendid Paul Reubens, as a feeble be-fanged henchman in the original “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” film.

He deserves his place in history for one of the few Joss Whedon-isms which seemed to make its way into the movie – at one point his vainglorious buffoon and announces to the heroine “We can do anything!” and is rebuked with an “Okay then –  clap.”

He’s just been separated from his arm, you see.  He’s quite armless.  He’s bidden goodbye to his limb. Maybe you had to be there.

It’s actually a half-decent film if you can get past the vastly superior TV series – just don’t expect the depth, wit, cast, mythology, twists and turns and journey of the beloved series and you’ll get to see a smarter-than-average 90’s teen movie with no small nostalgia factor for genre fans of a certain age.

Remember when Luke Perry was trying to be a movie star?  This film will help jog your memory.

So, five rubbish movie vampires and nobody mentioned from That Current Movie Series We Cannot Speak Of – pretty good going if you ask me.

Check back later this week for more in my Vamps season – it’s a comic to film adaptation directed by somebody who braved the sparkly hordes and lived…


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