In a way, "Vampires Suck" is the spawn of "Scary Movie." That's because writers Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer worked with the Wayans before striking out on their own to write screenplays for "Date Movie" (which received a 6 percent rotten rating from Rotten Tomatoes); "Epic Movie" (2 percent rotten rating); "Meet the Spartans" (another 2 percent rotten rating); and "Disaster Movie" (you guessed it--another 2 percent rotten rating).
Nothing against the Wayans--because I did enjoy some of those "Scary Movie" spoofs--but I wish Friedberg and Seltzer had interned with Mel Brooks or the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker trio instead.
Two rules of comedy apply here: humor is subjective, and parody is tougher than it looks. Brooks and the ZAZ boys are among the best, if you ask me, and I don't think it's a coincidence that Brooks cut his comic teeth in vaudeville, while Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker did live improv in Madison, Wisconsin. In such circumstances, out of sheer self-defense you begin to develop a sense of what works and what doesn't, or at least an exit strategy in case a joke bombs. I can't say for certain that Friedberg and Seltzer don't have onstage comedy experience, but I'd be surprised if they did. Not that the others are perfect, but Friedberg and Seltzer's gags seem to flatter more often. Then too, both Brooks and the ZAZ boys really pack their films with jokes, so that if one gag fails there's a laugh just around the corner. And they both cram a lot more cultural references into their parodies than Friedberg and Seltzer.
Other than scant allusions to "Blacula" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Vampires Suck" stays pretty close to a true parody: it lambastes a single work of art--in this case, the "Twilight" series by Stephanie Meyer. Which is to say, if you haven't seen "Twilight," you're probably not going to appreciate the funniest stuff in "Vampires Suck." Too bad, because the "Twilight" haters--the ones who instinctively pull back in terror the way the old vampires used to shrink from sunlight--are the ones who'd get the biggest kick out of this, and they won't have seen enough of the films to really enjoy the parody.
"Vampires Suck" received a 4 percent rotten rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and earned only a 3.3 out of 10 at Imbd.com. I wouldn't be the first to say that this movie sucks, but that would be too easy, and it wouldn't take into account the clever parodic elements that don't evoke a LOL response. For example, it all takes place in the town of Sporks (not Forks), and the father of Becca (not Bella) who hasn't seen his daughter for a while makes inappropriate comments that creep her out. Things like this don't even make you smile, much less laugh, but there's an element of appropriate cleverness involved. Same with the whoosh-whoosh zip-speeding around that the vampires do in "Twilight," which is aped here. The fact that Edward using his zip-speed at mundane or non-tension filled moments makes it amusing . . . but not laugh-out-loud funny. Elements like these are what mostly fill the cinematic pages of this parody, and darned if the guy who plays Edward Sullen (not Cullen) doesn't look an awful lot like the original. Matt Lanter will never be mistaken for Robert Pattinson, but made up to look excessively pale and with his hair poofed up in an impeccable Conway Twitty pompadour with just a little too much "pomp" on the front end, he makes you smile just to look at him. And Chris Riggi comes darned close to being a Taylor Lautner look-alike, so when he plays his lines straight there's something a little funny about it.
But only a little funny. I'd have to agree with the critics and fans who said that this film didn't have much in the way of laughs. Jenn Proske does her best to maintain an anxious and angst-filled Kristen Stewart look the whole time, but the gags that the filmmakers surround her with aren't enough to work with. When she drives the beat-up old pick-up truck to her new high school and there's a sign that says something to the effect that only angst-filled girls with crappy pick-up trucks can park here, heck, that's funny. Same with all the kids at the school who go out of their way to hurt her rather than simply being mean to her the way they were to Bella in "Twilight." And it was certainly amusing to see the Jacob character scratch his head with his shoed foot as he talks to Becca, and then scamper off when he sees a cat. But of course that gag is recycled from the Tim Allen version of "The Shaggy Dog," and it all but confirms that Friedberg and Seltzer just don't have sound comic instincts when you watch the unrated version and see them squeeze a fire hydrant joke in between these two. Not funny, and it brings down the other two jokes. Stuff like that happens throughout the film, unfortunately.
There's but one instance I can recall where I laughed aloud, and it came with this exchange:
"Your skin, it's pale white. You dress fashionably and you refrain from sex. I know who you are."
"Say it out loud. Say it."
"A Jonas brother."
And it was kinda funny that he goes on to say that he's a killer and pulls out a gun and shoots . . . hitting Alice, in the distance, as she's looking into the hole.
There should have been many more moments like that. Casting two lookalikes and coaching your young actors to mimic the trio from "Twilight" isn't enough to make for a great parody. If Friedberg and Seltzer watch "Blazing Saddles" and "Airplane!" again before attempting their next one, it can only help.
"Vampires Suck" is presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and for a standard DVD it's pretty strong in the detail department. Edges aren't as fuzzy as they often are with standard def, and the colors are brilliant and realistic-looking.
The audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround that offers some fairly active rear channels. An additional audio option is available in French 2.0 Dolby Surround, with subtitles in English SDH and Spanish. Dialogue, music, and effects are nicely mixed, and while the main soundtrack is louder than it is fully formed, but it's clear, at least, and precise-sounding.
Apart from deleted scenes and a gag reel there's nothing more to be seen--just the theatrical version of the film (which is superior) and the unrated extended version.
Parody looks as deceptively easy as making fun of someone, but it's a lot harder than it seems. Ernest Hemingway once said that every writer needs "a built-in shock-proof shit detector." Parody writers need that more than anyone else. Friedberg and Seltzer just haven't developed that instinct yet.