Remember when my boss was all "Hey, you guys should make Erik watch Vampire Dog, it looks terrible, ha ha ha, I'm a jerk" and you guys were all "Aye aye, whatever you say, Steve!" and then you all voted to make me watch Vampire Dog? But then I tried to get out of it? But then I gave up?
Okay, well, fine. Here's your review of Vampire Dog, jerks. I hope you're happy.
OH BUT WAIT! Because I am super popular, I invited my favorite Blogtown commenters to watch Vampire Dog with me—and because I am super smart, then I tricked them into writing my review for me! Please welcome atomic, Fruit Cup, kiala, Joneser, Graham, and Commenty Colin, who I just listed in the order in which they contributed, not the order of my most favorite to my least favorite. (That list is a secret.) Anyway, all of these fantastic rubes watched Vampire Dog with me and drank a bunch of booze with me. Please enjoy my/their/our review of Vampire Dog.
- "VAMPIRE" DOG A real vampire dog would be eating that kid's face.
It's been a big year for Geoff Anderson: Not only did he work on the special effects for arguably the year's finest film—the harrowing Zero Dark Thirty, which tells the brutal, nerve-wracking story of the search for Osama Bin Laden—but he also directed Vampire Dog, a direct-to-video tale about a nerdy kid named Ace (Collin MacKechnie) who gets a dog from Transylvania named Fang, and Fang talks and sounds like Norm Macdonald, and also Fang is a vampire. Except not REALLY, because this "vampire dog" is only "allergic" to the sun and instead of drinking blood, he eats red jelly. For reasons I was not 100 percent clear on, there's also a battle of the bands and a principal who gets hit in the dick with a drumstick and—
—the timing of the nut shot, a staple of the young adult direct-to-video market, was deployed far too early. A well timed blow to the genitals, generally accompanied by a "boy-yoy-yoing" sound effect, is not some opening gambit, it's a crescendo moment. But setting that aside, Vampire Dog competently dealt with the universal themes of preteen alienation and being willed a 600-year-old vampire dog who can hypnotize people with his eyes. My concern is that Anderson was not given a free enough directorial hand to fully explore the moral and social implications of vampire dog ownership. For instance...
—the lazy decision to name both the county and the school after famed vampire actor Bela Lugosi (Lugosi County and the Lugosi School for Gifted Youngsters). The in-your-face reference stinks of some heavy-handed contribution from some too slick Canadian producer, not someone of the incredible Hollywood movie making stature as Mr. Anderson. This film reeked of Canada more than refuse from the Potato Champion garbage bin. Further complications arise in the character of...
Susan, Ace's mom. Susan is perhaps the most ineffectual fictional mom since Lori Grimes first let Carl go zombie hunting with a bigoted redneck while she boned her maybe dead husband's best friend in a tent during the apocalypse. Ostensibly the new music teacher at the Lugosi School for Gifted Youngsters, Susan stands idly by while her son (who clearly suffers from severe social performance anxiety) is filmed by his entire class (who all have smart phones? kids are spoiled jerks nowadays) taking a massive header off his drum stool on his very first day. The only scene cringe-ier than this one was...
… Any scene involving Ace’s horrible, probably devious, young love interest, Skylar. She was too tall for Ace and I think she was bad news; kiss-asses usually are. The BEST scenes in the movie definitely involved the “bad kid” whose name was Arbuckle. ARBUCKLE! THE BADASS BULLY WAS NAMED ARBUCKLE. I don’t really remember much of what Arbuckle got up to but who cares. ARBUCKLE. Anyhoo, this movie had a lot to say about the modern Canadian-pretending-to-be-American condition. For example:
Vampire Dog made a valid and interesting examination of the cross-sections of the socio-political impact of celebrity-culture and how it influences the deteriorating educational infrastructure. For reasons that are never adequately explained, ALL of the schools in this area are slated to be closed down; except for one. The one school that will remain open is to be determined by the results of a so-called "Battle of the Bands" in which the champions of the schools create music in an ensemble format. THIS MAKES NO FUCKING SENSE AND SCHOOLS SHOULDN'T BE RUN THIS WAY. This organizing principle of scholastic bureaucracy is maddening until the viewer realizes that in fact this entire film should be taken as the apex of irony rivaling that of Johnathan Swift's treatise on fine dining. Or at least one hopes. Instead, this work...
... Should be taken for what it truly is—a chilling parable of a pharmaceutical industry run amok and the youth-worshipping culture that enables it. Vampire Dog is pursued at all times by a mad scientist and her eunuch henchman who want to uncover the source of his immortality, and use the secret to produce an anti-aging facial cream. Anderson’s film plays with the viewer, confounding expectations—is this a chase movie? a battle of the bands movie? the Bildungsroman of Ace & Skyler? Anderson’s genius lies in deploying what might seem to a casual viewer as COMPLETELY FUCKED FILMMAKER CONFUSION to tonally convey our deep cultural ambivalence. Inscrutable to its end, when it comes to our complicity in animal testing to achieve our civilization’s most fervent desire—a perpetual state of taut nubility—any answers the film might suggest exist beneath a disorienting haze of COMPLETELY FUCKED CANADIEN CONFUSION.
EPILOGUE, by GeekPortland:
"Lessons Learned from Vampire Dog"
BIOLOGY: Red jelly and blood are exchangeable. Good news for those of us who fear needles at the next blood drive.
SOCIAL SCIENCES: Teenage American boys love American flags, having upwards of three of them in their rooms. That is how you know that they are American, not Canadian.
HISTORY: Jack Russell Terriers were loyal war dogs in 15th century Europe, much to the chagrin of the final human vampires.
CHEMISTRY: The Law of Conservation of Mass is a lie. Or at least vampire dogs know how to subvert it to store their expanding doggie coffins, along with the donkeys and cats, in their carriers.
ENTERTAINMENT: Norm Macdonald's career is still at rock bottom.
Okay, that part about Norm Macdonald's career isn't technically true. But he still shouldn't have been in Vampire Dog.