MY BEST FRIEND IS A VAMPIRE
By Brian Owen
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RUNNING TIME: 89 Minutes
“People like Teen Wolf, right?”
“Then boy-howdy do I have a tale for you!”
Robert Sean Leonard, David Warner, Rene Auberjonois and THIN KATHY BATES
Jeremy Namelessbland [Note from Jeremy: Bio pic!] is just a normal high school student in the undefinable midwest, dealing with the pressures of dating, school and constant synthesizers. All is status quo until one night of sexual frivolity launches him into a secret underground society of vampires. Now not only does he need to decide which girl he desires, but he also needs to stay one step ahead of the local vampire hunter! Wackiness shall ensue!
Though offered for a cheaper price, the new Catholic bris was not seen as an equally classy affair to its Jewish counterpart.
You know, expectations are a funny thing. Apparently my expectations for the “lost classic” My Best Friend is a Vampire were way off. I’m pretty sure that my expectations were sitting in Tulsa waiting for a connecting flight, whereas the actual film was right in front of me in my living room. That’s how off they were. This one just snuck up out of nowhere and defied all preconceptions. If this film were trying to be an absurdist piece of parody, it would one of a kind, but as it just stands it makes me feel funny on the inside. And not in a good way.
The movie opens with a sex dream: An honest-to-God awkward sex dream that begins with Jeremy Capello (Robert Sean Leonard) being forced to decide between his love for Molly Ringwald (LeeAnne Locken) or Ally Sheedy (Cheryl Pollak) and ending with castration by gardening shears. Salvador Dali couldn’t have done it better, folks. We are then thrown directly into Jeremy’s bland family life and introduced to his best friend, Ralph (Evan Mirand – the Buddy Lembeck to his Charles, who is indeed in charge). Ralph is, simply put, a horn-dog. He also represents how this movie is so tonally all over the place. Ralph pressures Jeremy into finding a way to get laid as soon as possible – and we start getting this strange amalgam of Porky’s with Monster Squad that reminds us that we are fully in the 80s. Remember, kids, in the 1980s, sex was WACKY!!!
Opportunity for “the ultimate” arises when Jeremy winds up in the spooky old mansion on Highland Drive delivering groceries to the local VILF. Her cat bites his finger, and she pays the grocery bill by sucking the blood off his finger . . . you know . . . sensuously. Motivated by the mocking of local bland hot girls, Jeremy returns to seal the deal with the VILF . . . you know . . . sensuously. They’re interrupted in their lovemaking by the arrival of vampire hunter Professor Leopold McCarthy (David Warner) who apparently took time off from managing the TGRI labs to stalk vampires. He arrives with his bumbling assistant (Paul Willson) and they kill the VILF, but not in time to save Jeremy from being bitten himself. Also, not in time to save us from the awkwardness of watching a middle-aged woman having sex with an underage teenage boy.
Vice President Cheney still had some more target practice before his next quail hunt.
The rest of the film follows Jeremy as he deals with the transition into vampire life while under the tutelage of vampire Rene Auberjonois – who has the obligatory scene of abandonment halfway through the film bidding his young padowan adieu. (Of course, his departure doesn’t arrive until after Auberjonois attempts to teach Jeremy to use his vampire mind-powers as rohypnol) Jeremy eventually accepts his new “alternative lifestyle” in a montage set to Pat McDonald’s glorious “My Future’s so Bright I’ve got to Wear Shades.” He evades the hunters in not one but TWO synth-accompanied car chases. He also decides that he wants Ally Sheedy (What??? She’s weird! She plays musical instruments and wears glasses! She wears sweater vests, berets and sarouels! She’s so unconventional) who lives with her mother THIN KATHY BATES (Kathy Bates) at 3126 Hill Valley Dr. in 2025, if her neon lit-house is any indication. He screws up the date pretty bad in the car due to some premature teeth-jaculation. Jeremy and Ralph visit a punk club where they attempt to date rape several girls with Jeremy’s psycho-rufies. This all leads to a climax(?) where Ralph is kidnapped and Jeremy must save him, and EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER convenes in a graveyard only to accidently stumble into a denouement.
Like I said, the movie constantly defied my expectations. All conflicts within the film are resolved with a simple “Hey, it’s alright.” It happens several times, in fact. I certainly didn’t expect that. It sets up several jokes that I expected to see played out when in fact they’re all dropped far before the punchline. And then there is the tone that is, as I stated earlier, completely schizophrenic. For every attempted moment of sympathy there is a half-written dick joke. For every attempt at characterization there are the parents in the film who offer kids alcohol and let their children GET INTO CARS WITH COMPLETE STRANGERS AND COMMENT ON HOW ODD IT IS. And for how predictable the entire film was, it was utterly unpredictable. It’s as if all of the pieces are completely familiar yet they are arranged in a wholly new and unsatisfying manner. Yes, I guess it would be expected for parents to assume their son is gay and not a vampire. But I admit that the way that one was handled came out of left field.
I expected a bad movie, to be honest, but this defied my expectations. What I got instead was the equivalent of the sex dream that opens the film. It ends with some humiliation, and I awake from a fever dream wondering what it is I just experienced. It’s not necessarily bad, but I would hesitate to call it good. But it’s still better than Twilight.
Ladies and gentlemen, you may experience the majesty of My Best Friend is a Vampire in glorious full-frame! The special features are scant to none, except for a trivia track that quizzes you during the film, as well as dropping you nuggets of golden trivia. For example, did you know that Paul Willson played a character also named Paul on the beloved television program Cheers? If you didn’t, you do now! Thanks, Lionsgate. Apparently that’s all they could give us. I guess Midnight Meat Train didn’t make enough to finance a reunion between writer Tab “Monosyllabic” Murphy and director Jimmy “The Lost Huston” Huston in order to record a commentary. Or maybe they both couldn’t get the night off from Sizzler.
The artwork features the classy “Lost Collection” logo and the inexplicable presence of a scene kid, as well as what is – I can only assume – the original artwork for the movie. The locker is a coffin, get it? Which is odd because for the most part the vampires in this movie don’t follow much of the mythos of vampires. It also features the misleading title, because in fact, the film’s protagonist is the vampire, not his best friend. If the title were accurate it would read “Hey, I’m a Vampire and my Best Friend is a Horny Douche!”
By Sean Blackwell
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RUNNING TIME: 113 Minutes
Before she became the model for countless redeemed celebrity screw-ups, Drew Barrymore divorced her parents. With good reason. They were dicks.
Cast: Ryan O’Neal, Shelley Long, Drew Barrymore, Sharon Stone
Director: Charles Shyer
Nine year-old Casey Brodsky (Barrymore) sues her parents (O’Neal, Long) for emancipation when she finally has enough of their self-absorbed antics, most of which include ignoring her rather spectacularly. The road to how the dysfunctional family reached the breaking point is played out in a series of flashbacks/testimony detailing the rise and fall of the Family Brodsky. Casey’s parents come to see that no amount of fame or fortune (or young Sharon Stone) can ever replace the love of a happy family. Or some shit like that.
Despite its having aged quite poorly around the edges, the core of what made Irreconcilable Differences a modest box office success ($12 million in 1984, which is like $7.6 billion in today dollars) still holds up. Golden Globe-nominated performances by Long and Barrymore have weathered the last 25 years reasonably well (Barrymore especially), and Ryan O’Neal does an admirable job holding his own. I have to point out, however, that Sharon Stone (in her first significant film role) is really quite awful as the Brodsky family divorce catalyst. “One-note” is far too kind a term for what was perpetrated on screen here. In stark contrast to any of the other leads, she just comes off as a caricature of a bitchy diva. I guess it took a few more years as a professional to perfect that role. (rimshot)
While Righty gazed longingly into the chiseled visage of Shelley’s lover, Lefty began devising a plan to get rid of that fucking bitch of a nose once and for all.
As things progress, Long and O’Neal deliver strong performances as the divorced couple who manage to switch roles (successful asshole and struggling sadsack asshole) halfway through the proceedings without it feeling gimmicky. The deterioration of the Brodsky relationship (pre- and post-divorce) is handled well, with each parent acting in a contemptible enough manner for us to buy into Casey’s wanting out but doing so in a grounded enough way as not to look veer into “Mr. and Mrs. de Vil” territory. Their problems feel real enough (and also completely of their own doing), and the misery each feels at their respective low points comes across fairly honestly. It is an 80’s-era film, however, so there is the government-mandated amount of broad shenanigans that take place (the 80’s pool rule* comes into play). Thankfully, they never overshadow the genuine core of the story, which even thankfully manages to not completely follow through on putting the happy bow on the end (it’s assumed, but not applied with a frying pan to the temple).
“Dear Tatum, sorry I sucked. Love, Dad.”
While the adults handle their business admirably, the real winner here is little Drew. Her character doesn’t even show up for any substantial screen time until near the halfway point, but when she does, she puts on a clinic that most child actors we’ve had to stomach in the intervening years have apparently ignored. Casey isn’t shrill, cartoonish, or ridiculously wise beyond her years. She comes across as a nine year old girl, and for that I am so very grateful. As things reach the tipping point and Casey begins to exhibit some of the characteristics that make her parents so completely miserable and unlikeable, Barrymore manages to do so without going all Disney Kid School of Acting on us. She has a courtroom speech that she handles quite well, too, resisting big drama and instead going for a quiet resignation that really lets us feel the hurt. Quality work all around from the girl who would grow up and subject us all to Ever After.
While Pete was mesmerized by Top Chef, Amanda “Stinkfinger” Smith went to work…
The transfer here is brutal, plain and simple. It looks like someone just transferred the VHS version to disc on their laptop. Scenes shot at night (especially in the car during the meet cute) are often indecipherable. And it’s all presented in glorious full screen, the preferred format of DVD connoisseurs the world over. The package also claims 5.1 Dolby Surround, but it only seems to kick in annoyingly during voiceovers.
“Shh. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m thinking about leaving Cheers.”
As far as extras, this disc (like all others in this new “Lost Collection” repackaging) has the Pop-Up Video-esque Trivia Track, which tosses out random facts and multiple-choice questions that may or may not be related to what’s going down in full screen in front of you. Trailers for remastered versions of Dirty Dancing, The Monster Squad, and the original My Bloody Valentine are included as well.
Rarely seen still from Long’s Career v. Long, in which Shelley is forced during cross examination to explain the Troop Beverly Hills decision.
To be sure, the disc’s presentation and extras are pretty awful and scream “low-effort cash grab”, but the film is strong enough on its own merits to warrant a rental if you haven’t seen it.
* The 80’s pool rule – If a high-dollar property has a body of water of any kind on the premises, somebody’s going in at some point.
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