Friday, October 1, 2010

I Kissed a Vampire - Review

I downloaded the iTunes-only vampire rock musical I Kissed a Vampire… and I liked it. Yeah, I had to make that joke. Seriously, though, I found it mildly entertaining and worth a watch every now and then. It’s basically like a cross between High School Musical, which it pays tribute to, and just a generic corny vampire film. One thing I like is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it’s more humorous because of it. It’s not that good, but it’s cute enough for what it is. My full review follows:

The show starts out with Dylan ranting to the camera about turning into a vampire after getting bit by a bat on a camping trip, and we see a flashback shot of him beating at this ridiculously campy bat puppet. He continues about how he’s tried to cure his vampirism by taking “anti-bloodsucking pills” ordered off the Internet from what I figure to be the supplier of Batman’s anti-shark spray, but they just gave him a rash. He’s worried about his crush, Sara, who he wants to be his girlfriend, but every time they start to kiss his fangs come out, so he’s been keeping her away. He then sings a rock song about turning into a vampire, and here’s where it loses me.

These songs are not well made. They’re supposed to be teen heartthrob stuff, but it just seems like an annoying break from the plot. The point of the songs seems to be to sexualize the actors, making the boys appealing to the girls and the girls appealing to whatever straight boys are watching this because their girlfriends dragged them into it, but cute actors singing bad songs is not enough to entertain me. Soon after Dylan’s song about obsessing over Sara, we cut to Sara for another song. This one’s about wanting to be seen as “not the girl next door”, which is even more pointless. She basically says she’s sexy, she’s not a “forbidden fruit”, and that he should just make a move. (Yeah, because the girl should always be passive in a relationship.) Well, she figures that if he hasn’t called her by now, he might be in danger, and she goes to help.

Meanwhile, Dylan is visited by his vampire mentor, played by High School Musical’s Lucas Grabeel. The vamp introduces himself as Trey… Sylvania, which is a shout out to the HSM character Troy in addition to being a silly pun. Trey is a typical eye-shadow-wearing sexy vampire dude who sings a song about how Dylan should embrace the vampire lifestyle and be a bad boy (“the bite”) with dozens of pretty vampire-loving girls to feed from and add to his harem. Dylan resists, but then Sara comes in, and Trey hypnotizes her to go to a party with him, forcing Dylan to come along.

The party is predictably filled with vampires, all female, and they all seem into Sara—as a refreshment, but blood-sucking and sex are often connected in vampire fiction and this show is no exception, so I feel justified in labeling them predatory bisexual women. Anyway, Trey feeds Sara a Bloody Mary, and he calls it “extra-extra-virgin”, which might just mean no blood as she feels suddenly warm. Trey convinces Dylan that he needs to kiss Sara now or she’ll reject him, so he tries to kiss her but tries to bite her again, and he pulls away at the last second. Sara shouts at him for continuously leading her on and stomps off, causing Dylan to break into another song while Trey has the vampire women hold Dylan as Trey tries to bite Sara. This is the only song I find at all catchy, and it has all three lead actors singing together with decent choreography. It ends with Trey biting Sara, but Dylan breaks free and punches Trey off of her.

This knocks Sara out of her spell, and the vampire women get mad at Trey for calling multiple women his “number one” and drag him off, so things look fine. Dylan admits his feelings for Sara and kisses her. They launch into another forgettable song, and then Sara grabs her neck where Trey bit her and says she feels “a little drained”. Dylan looks over at Trey, who is suddenly right next to them and makes a teasing biting motion. The end.

So that’s I Kissed a Vampire. Is it good? Well, no, but it’s not that bad either. It’s entertaining, even though I want to fast-forward through most of the songs. The jokes are so-so, but it’s cute. The special effects are really cheap, but they went the campy route and made it work. They couldn’t even afford their own vampire font for the title/credits and instead downloaded a Buffy the Vampire Slayer font from off the Internet, which confuses me. Didn’t they realize people would notice it belongs to someone else? See the comparison below (IKAV credit on left):

One other thing that confuses me is the title. “I” kissed a vampire? One would expect “I” to be the protagonist, but Dylan doesn’t kiss a vampire. Sara kisses a vampire, but I wouldn’t consider her prominent enough to be a protagonist. She gets her own song, but Dylan is the only real protagonist. It’s like if Twilight were to be called ‘I Kissed Bella’ when Bella is the protagonist; it doesn’t work.

I imagine they want girls, their target audience, to identify with Sara as she doesn’t understand her crush and ultimately kisses a sexy vampire who won’t take advantage of her, but it doesn’t work because Sara is not an interesting character at all. She is just too freaking passive. She doesn’t even learn Dylan is a vampire or ever have any idea what the heck is going on. She’s just a Muggle pawn being toyed with by an interesting character. Dylan and Trey are the interesting characters and girls will more readily identify with Dylan, the actual protagonist, than Sara. I imagine no one will care about Dylan and Sara’s relationship and will instead write slash fic pairing up Dylan and Trey because they’re the interesting characters.

Themes of the story include—as vampire fiction tends to do—sex and sexual assault symbolically referenced as bloodlust. Trey is a sexual predator who tries to bring the basically good Dylan over to his side by telling him how cool it is to be evil. Both boys feel lust, which is treated as dangerous through use of the vampire imagery. When Dylan extends his fangs and tries to bite Sara, this is likely using the common symbolism of being a stand-in for wanting to have sex with her. He resists at every point, though, while the sexy bad boy Trey tries to take advantage of her at every occasion. Trey gets her drunk or possibly intoxicated with some mystical date rape drug—I’m still not clear on what that Bloody Mary really was—and she must depend on the nice boy to save her from the sexual predator.

And that’s what really bugs me about this show. Sara is helpless. She doesn’t even know what’s going on. She closes her eyes whenever Dylan tries to kiss her, so she never sees his fangs. At least in Twilight, Bella eventually figures out what’s going on. Sara doesn’t. There’s just the tease that maybe she’ll turn into a vampire because Trey nicked her and Dylan will presumably have to tell her then. She is entirely passive and ignorant and just a damsel in distress for Dylan to rescue. It’s a shame because they could have done something interesting with her comparable to Bella of Twilight or Sookie of True Blood, but all there is to her is that she’s sexier than Dylan gives her credit for and she wants him to kiss her. That is not an interesting character and it’s rather sexist.

And here ends the review. Okay, everyone, sing it with me:

I kissed a vamp and I liked it
The taste of his bloody chapstick
I kissed a vamp just to try it
And I liked it!

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