Vampires Suck (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
21Aug/102

Vampires Suck (2010)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

Danny INDIFFERENTThe punchline is violence, you see.

That's pretty much what ran through my mind during the entirety of Vampires Suck, the newest semi-parody, semi-pop culture madlib from Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the impresarios behind Date Movie, Epic Movie, and Disaster Movie. That this film escaped the moniker of Vampire Movie boggles the mind.

Before I delve too far into Vampires Suck (and, yes, that title is indicative of the humor represented here), I'd like to do a brief digression into Disaster Movie. It was the fourth Freidberg/Seltzer collaboration as writers/directors and it truly hit the bottom of the barrel in terms of every imaginable conceit. Luckily, at the time, this included the box office.

Disaster Movie isn't any sort of parody but a parade of obvious pop culture references used as a  punchline: Iron Man shows up, says "I am Iron Man," gets flattened by a cow. Cue guffaws.

But that just saying that belittles the streak of artless depravity that really instructed Disaster Movie. One scene in particular, of the pregnant Juno parody getting eaten alive by ravenous and horrifying puppet chipmunks while pieces of bones scatter is only the gateway into the violent secular religion of gory fetishism that these two men delight at displaying. The subversion with which they demonstrate such macabre horrors indicates that they are not only presenting to you the blandest, most base level of pop culture referentialism, but they have utter contempt for said pop culture.

Most other pop parodies actually seem to care about what they're parodying (Airplane would hardly be half the movie it is without Leslie Nielson's sprouting the cliches with an unwavering determination), but it's unbelievably safe to say that Friedberg/Seltzer loathe popular culture. They violently and angrily deconstruct it, laying references on the table that are open to interpretation as "punchlines" and then transition between them with gore, body parts, and violent evisceration. In Disaster Movie, besides the over-the-top Savini-esque mutilation of Juno, we got other scenes like a meteor slowly crushing Hannah Montana to death or the princess from Enchanted begins to fervently eat glass, spreading blood everywhere.

I guess I'm getting wildly off topic, because as much as I wanted to work on my theorem of Disaster Movie being a companion piece to Tom Green's Freddy Got Fingered as neo-surrealistic meditations on the consequences and nature of humor and its links with violence, I'm supposed to talk about Vampires Suck instead.

Vampires Suck is a parody of the Twilight franchise. Parody might be a strong word here, but, unlike the rest of the Movie-canon, this one sticks with a consistent target.

Many reviewers are claiming that the Twilight series itself has descended into a form of self-parody, but that seems like wishful thinking. There's still plenty of targets available for riffing on in the wildly popular series, and Vampires Suck takes the bold move of ignoring all of those possibilities.

Instead it focuses on an unbelievable amount of violence perpetrated on its leads, ranging from maulings and beatings to compound fractures and decapitations. These are interspersed with jokes that are basically someone yelling "PENIS" and vampire jokes that you'd find in a children's coloring books ("The vampires want you to go to the blood bank!"). That there were two eight year olds laughing heavily through most of the film was not surprising to me.

But that's a misrepresentation, an easy and a cheap one. I saw Vampires Suck in a packed theater on a Friday night, and the crowd adored the movie. When Edward Sullen (!) tells his sister he's found someone as weird as him at long last, the camera pans over to a man who vaguely resembles Lady Gaga dancing to a generic background song; the audience exploded. That's Lady Gaga! they thought in unison. And she is weird!

Whether Friedberg/Seltzer find this funny or not is a matter of subjectivity, but these gags are executed with such soulless mechanical routine that when you arrive at the next scene involving Edward being mutilated by a vampire squirrel doll or the town cop having his mustache ripped off, skin and all, you can see how these 'gags' get actual care given to them. Hell a few of them even have setups before the punchlines.

What redeems the movie ("redeems" as in saves it from being a complete disaster) comes in the form of actually following the plots of Twilight and New Moon semi-faithfully and then the lead actors themselves, who actually give their parts a strange level of gravitas. Jenn Froske and Matt Lanter as the film's Bella and Jacob do a good job of imbuing their parodies with the same strange ticks that the real characters do, and they manage to play the jokes with just enough of a straight face to not feel as one note as most other Friedberg/Seltzer protagonists.

That might not forgive some of the weaker aspects of the film, notably Anneliese van der Pol who plays Bella/Becca's best friend in the whole world. Der Pol who is apparently playing a high schooler at 26 while looking like she's in her mid-40's, plays each scene like she's scratching nails on a chalkboard.

Also notable is Ken Jeong as the lead vampire and Dave Foley as Dave Foley because he really had nothing better to do that day. This implies that Dave Foley doesn't know how to masturbate, or, I guess, at least know how to masturbate and get paid money for it.

Am I rambling? I can't tell any more. I sat through Vampires Suck with a twisted grin on my face, amazed that Friedberg/Seltzer had learned some form of coherency for once and that the audience was lapping it up with unmitigated glee. One gag actually managed to catch me off-guard enough that I even laughed. I laughed at this film.

But only once, and I was in the minority. I wrote something the other day about film critics becoming separated from general taste at some point because of the sheer breadth of experiences and levels of quality inherent within versus a general easygoing interpretation and enjoyment of films. Hell, if I were still in my early (early, early) teens I might have enjoyed this film, and admired the glee at which it lays into the indomitable Twilight franchise.

But I'm older now, and I've seen good parodies and I've seen bad parodies. Then I've seen most of the Friedberg/Seltzer output, all of which read like a violent moldy love letter to the movies. Said envelope probably also has anthrax tucked in for good measure.

Vampires Suck (2010)

This film is currently playing in theaters.

Directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer
Starring... well, "Starring" Jenn Froske and Matt Lanter

Posted by Danny

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  1. Saw nothing about this film until you reviewed it, but looking at the photos you picked I have to know: Did they really shoe-horn a Taco Bell dog joke into this movie? Really?!

  2. They didn’t! I was completely in awe. But then the fact is that the oldest movie they reference is quite literally Twilight, I suppose I can’t be that surprised. The generation that appreciates– “appreciates”– Taco Bell dog jokes is too savvy by default to be able to watch this movie.


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