Seen: On my laptop, on a train ride.
Everyone who's anyone knows that Clueless is one of the greatest movies ever made, of course. It's one of my most-watched, most-quoted, and most-loved movies, and to me Amy Heckerling is just an awesome filmmaker. Her latest feature, Vamps, has been a long time coming and its floundering theatrical release kept me from seeing it for a while, but, lo, finally it made it to home video and my life could once again have meaning. Re-teaming Heckerling with Clueless star Alicia Silverstone, Vamps centers on best friends Goody (Silverstone) and Stacy (Krysten Ritter), two fun vampire ladies living it up in New York City. They attend night classes, party at the hottest clubs, and work as rat catchers, living off rodent blood instead of humans. When their master vampire (or "stem"), Cisserus (Sigourney Weaver), arrives unexpectedly, Goody reconnects with an old flame from the 60s (Richard Lewis), and Stacy starts dating a cute guy (Dan Stevens) who happens to be a Van Helsing, their lives suddenly become more complicated.
Ok naturally I wanted this movie to be one hundred percent amazing, simply because its various components made me so excited. Realistically I understood that it couldn't be perfect, and from a few reviews I'd read I came to expect it to be middling. And you know what? Vamps ISN'T perfect, and it DOESN'T live up to its awesome parts, but it is actually pretty satisfying. The script is cute and un-self-conscious, with clear nods to German Expressionist cinema and a number of digs at modern technology. There is a range of funny characters propped up by an excellent cast, from Malcolm McDowell as a reformed Vlad the Impaler to Sigourney Weaver as the bloodthirsty, irresponsible Cisserus. Silverstone and Ritter are adorable in the lead roles, perky and fashionable and sympathetic in their good-natured shallowness. You know I love stories about lady friendships, and while there are romantic subplots (Hell-ooooo rumpled Dan Stevens), the ultimate connecting thread through everything is the relationship between Goody and Stacy. It's very sweet.
I know, vampire movies are a dime a dozen these days and a lot of them are stupid or uninspired, but this one is worth a look for giving the old tropes a somewhat different spin. Because they're like vegetarian vampires (attending group meetings and everything), their vampireyness comes up more in discussions about aging and the past. I loved the idea of Goody's sort of double vision, where she would see a place as it exists now, and then flash back to its previous iterations as it changed over the 200 or so years she'd lived. I would have liked more of that concept explored, actually, but on the whole the tone is extremely light, because Heckerling isn't really setting out to get our intellectual juices flowing. As far as I can tell, she wants to provide a female-positive showcase for some great comedic actors while fiddling about with the vampire genre. The production values are kind of horrible (the CGI made me wince), the story is pretty scattered, and Heckerling is showing her age with all the anti-technology banter, but overall I found it delightful. And oh, the CLOTHES!
Pair This Movie With: If you want another ladyfriend vampire movie, there's We Are the Night. Or obviously you can just follow it up with Clueless AKA THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO ME GOSH.