Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Vampire Party (2008)

Equally quirky and entertaining, France’s Vampire Party (aka Les Dents de la Nuit or The Teeth of the Night) is a horror spoof that keeps the jokes and action coming fast and furious. What it lacks in gore (there’s really not that much worth mentioning) it definitely makes up for in laughs. Its official synopsis compares it to both Airplane! and Shaun of the Dead, though Vampire Party plays up more of the oblivious comedy of Airplane! than the clever cinematic references of Shaun. While it is never as funny as its influences, this French import is still a very entertaining film that’s worth a look.

Vampire Party tells the tale of three friends, party animal Sam (Patrick Mille), aerobics instructor Alice (Frédérique Bel) and banker-with-a-wild-streak Prune (Julie Fournier), who happen to get their hands on invitations to a very exclusive party that’s gone down in urban legend. The party is so secretive that they are flown to the remote location, an old castle perched on the mountains, by helicopter. There they meet fellow partiers Edouard (Vincent Desagnat), a young but nerdy man, Serge Krinine (Sam Karmann), a “famous” dentist and Jessica Conti (Hélène de Fougerolles), an oblivious socialite. While hundreds of partiers get their groove and drink on, several dozen vampires await in the adjoining V.I.P. room for their leader, Le Duc de Journiac (Tchéky Karyo), to announce the human buffet open. Pretty soon, carnage ensues and the remaining characters must find a way out of the castle before they become a midnight snack.

Vampire Party is a short film, clocking in at less than 80 minutes, so it’s very fast-paced and there is always constant action. The jokes come pretty quick too, one after the other, and while some of them play with genre conventions (there is a reoccurring scene involving the famous scene from Titanic where the two lovers are on the bow of the ship and “on top of the world”) it would be a stretch to call Vampire Party a spoof. Instead, it has the random humor and sight gags of comedies like Airplane!, Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles. For instance, after a vampire is vanquished, a character remarks that “the goose is cooked” and in response another character quips something along the lines of “what a strange time to be thinking about food!” The same airheaded character tears up the dance floor with some awful moves before saying about the techno music, “I love reggae!” That is the kind of silly comedy employed by Vampire Party, but even I, one who usually loathes horror comedy unless they are very well done, really enjoyed the film and its off-kilter humor!

First off, the characters are extremely likable, even the slightly odd ones, like the photo-obsessed Edouard and over-eager dentist. The film doesn’t spend a terribly long time on character development, but from the quick introductions you get a feel for all of the characters. It also bears mentioning that the entire cast did a fantastic job and all were believable in their roles. I especially liked the three main actors – Patrick Mille, Frédérique Bel and Julie Fournier – who played Sam, Alice and Prune respectably. They gave us characters to really cheer for! I also must say that I enjoyed the villain as well, played by Tchéky Karyo. His obsession for caring for his hair as opposed to chasing down victims was a fun sight to behold.

Secondly, the film was just fun to look at. From the beautifully illustrated and Fearless Vampire Killers-influenced opening credits to the clever introductions of Sam, Alice and Prune at the beginning of the film to the decadent party at the castle, there was never a dull second. The film also isn’t afraid to break the “fourth wall” and shows a character who uses a sound guy’s boom microphone to fight off a vampire while the film crew looks on incredulously.

My only complaint with the film is that it felt a bit rushed and the ending offered little resolution. Yes, the plot is clichéd, but that is the point of the movie and it shakes things up a bit with its hilarious humor, but I felt that with the ending a.) directors Stephen Cafiero and Vincent Lobelle didn’t know how to vanquish the villains or b.) they wanted to make a sequel. Whatever their intentions, the ending doesn’t quite work and left too many unanswered questions, even for a horror comedy.

Despite that flaw, I found Vampire Party to be a swinging good time and highly recommend you RSVP for this horror-comedy!

Available from Amazon!

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