Saturday Editor’s Pick: Vamps (2012)

by on March 31, 2012Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing Sat April 7 at 6:50 at BAMcinématek [Program & Tix]
*Sneak-preview Director’s Cut with Amy Heckerling and star Alicia Silverstone in-person

It’s a Clueless reunion! And how. One need not look any further than the synopsis and cast list to get waaaaaay excited about this very special sneak peek at what looks to be Heckerling’s return to the saddle, brought to you by Lena Dunham’s “Hey Girlfriend!” series. The power duo will also host a 9:30 screening of their original 1990s masterwork.

From the BAM press release:

This toothy romp with tongue-in-cheek B-movie special effects follows literal BFFs and vampire gal pals Goody (Silverstone) and Stacy (Breaking Bad’s Krysten Ritter) after having partied their way through several generations of New York nightlife. When Stacy falls for the youngest son (Dan Stevens in a deliciously droll performance) of the Van Helsing demon-hunting dynasty, and Goody runs into an old flame, ex-hippie turned ACLU lawyer Danny (Richard Lewis, of course), the girls must decide if true love is worth the price of eternal youth.
Heckerling’s sharply written comedy is a satirical yet nostalgic ode to an NYC of yore, monochrome silents (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Un Chien Andalou, Metropolis, and of course, Nosferatu figure prominently), cinema studies, and even the dusty obsolescence of vampires themselves. Silverstone brings an unexpected poignancy to her role as a 19th-century girl struggling to fit in to 21st-century life with all its foibles.



No one’s seen the movie, including Malcolm McDowell, but he’s willing to vouch for it to Fear Net:

I play Vlad the Impaler — vith an accent like zis. I’m in scenes with Richard Lewis, who I love. A great comedian, but he’s an actor in this and he’s very good. He plays a lawyer. Very crisp. It’s Alicia Silverstone and Sigourney Weaver, a great cast. Amy Heckerling is fabulous, a terrific writer and a lovely person, and I’m sure the movie’s gonna be good. Although I haven’t seen it, so I can’t vouch for that totally. But my bet would be on her.


Film School Rejects lists it as one of the most interesting looking movies of the year:

This is new work from Amy Heckerling, who directed Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Clueless. Essentially, she helped shape the perception of high school in movies for millions. Here she re-teams with Alicia Silverstone to mess around in the faddish vampire sandbox, but it won’t be surprising if she comes up with something more than the average storyline. Or maybe it’ll be a refreshing return to the brutal, beautiful world that vampires used to represent.


Fangoria reports:

“I was thinking about the kind of lifestyle I’d like to live,” Heckerling tells the trade, “and that it would be fun to be eternally young, go to school, have a job and horse around with your friends in New York at night.”
The film also stars Sigourney Weaver (as vampire queen Cisserus), Wallace Shawn, Justin Kirk, Kristen Johnston, Richard Lewis, Dan Stevens, Todd Barry, Marilu Henner and Taylor Negron. Quite the strong comic ensemble, though Hassell says, “We had a very hard time [with casting]. Ritter was a fast choice. She was on Amy’s list. I’d seen her so many times in movies and thought she had the potential to be great. We had two days before AFM and I shoved her down everybody’s throats. We were looking forever for the second girl. Lauren went with Amy to see a play that Alicia Silverstone was in and Lauren thought it would be special if they could work together. We had to get the linchpin name and Sigourney Weaver was offered to us and turned up at the audition with the lines memorized, and we were off and running.”



I09 also adds some details:

In an email interview, producer Lauren Versel explained the heart of the story: “What happens when being [eternally] young has gotten old.” Versel continues, “[Vamps] is an upbeat comedy about what it’s really like to be a female vampire living in the modern world, and dealing with jobs, dating, fashion, technology and the ever-changing world. The [main characters] try and keep up with fashion, gadgets, music, new dance crazes, [but] they long for some aspects of the past.” And that’s how Vamps will stand out from the rest of the recent crop of vampire flicks — by being modern, and forcing the main characters to do so as well. “They bravely forge ahead and keep on existing as long as possible.”
But the reuniting of Silverstone and Heckerling isn’t the only reason we’re quietly squeeing about this movie. Did we mention that Sigourney Weaver has been cast in this picture as the head vampire villain? Versel explained that Weaver is the vampire who sires Silverstone’s character Goody (i.e., turns her into a vampire for you non-fangbangers). Weaver goes by the name of Cisserus, and is a fearsome villain. Ritter is the “younger” vamp, Stacy.
Dan Stevens (cousin Matthew from Downton Abbey!!!) has been cast as a younger Van Helsing, and Wallace Shawn (inconceivable!) is the older vampire-hating Dr. Van Helsing. Justin Kirk (Weeds) is tackling the character Vadim, who could be either a vampire or a vampire wannabe, judging from the images we included below. Malcolm McDowell is the very vampiric-sounding Vlad. And also in this film are Richard Lewis, Marilu Henner and Kristen Johnston. This is a massive cast. But we love everyone attached.


Allie Sempberger talks to Heckerling for Michigan Movie Magazine (the film was shot with Detroit standing in for New York):

Did you draw inspiration from anywhere for Vamps?

I’ve always been a fan of monster movies, especially silent German expressionism. Films like Nosferatu, Bela Lugosi as Dracula, Mel Brooks’ Dracula Dred and Loving It. Gary Oldman was amazing in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I love Nicolas Cage in Vampire’s Kiss, and Shadow of the Vampire was awesome.
Your film Clueless has also been credited with creating new genre – “girl power.” Is Vamps a girl power movie?

Sure, I guess. But I didn’t sit down to write a girl power script or anything. I’m a female and I’m not gonna write subservient female characters. If you want to label that as “girl power,” then go ahead.
How has it been to be reunited with Alicia Silverstone on your new movie Vamps?

Alicia was an amazing young girl when we did Clueless and she’s grown into an incredible woman. I’ve been following her career in film and theater over the years and she continues to be fantastic. I have nothing but love for her.


Christina Radish talks to Weaver, for Collider:

What made you decide to jump into the vampire genre with Vamps?
Well, I’m a big Amy Heckerling fan, and I also loved the character. She was so unrepentant. I watched the whole genre, as it were, and that’s how I knew who Taylor was. I loved the company that she put together, and I think it’s going to be a lovely movie, even though I’ve only just seen a little tiny bit of it. I love playing delicious, evil parts like that.
How does your character fit into the story?

She is the person who turned the girls into vampires. So, they have to do her bidding, and she’s very unreasonable and demanding. I would have to say that the one change I made was that I thought she was not really enjoying herself very much, in the original script. I thought, “What’s not to enjoy?” She’s 2,000 years old, she can have anything, she can have anyone, she can do what she wants, so I wanted her to be totally in-the-moment. So, I talked to Amy about it and she just evolved that way. She’s a really happy vampire. She digs it.


Meredith Woerne touches base with Kristen Rytter, also for I09:

It’s been a lot fun watching the characters you’ve picked over the years, so what was it about your character in Amy Heckerling’s Vamps that appealed to you?

Well, I love Amy Heckerling. I love her tone and her quality and how she’s able to create a whole language. So I met her, in general, as a fan I read her script and I really liked it, I met her over a year ago. And finally was able to convince them to give it to me.


Are they going to give you some cool teeth?

Yes! When I got the part, it was my first day starting the TV show Gravity. When my agents called, I thought something bad was going to happen, there were like four of them on the phone call. I asked, “Is everything okay?” It was my first day on the job — am I fired? What’s going on? And they said they had the offer for the lead in Vamps. I was freaking out, screaming on the street. And the hair and make up people were big special effects people, they did everything on Sopranos, and they plucked on some teeth for me. And that’s how I celebrated the role.
I can’t wait it’s going to be fun. It’s also something where my physical appearance is going to help me because I’m pale and have black hair and I get to stay that way. Which is always nice.
Are you going to play the typical vampire type, standing in shadows and brooding?

No. Absolutely not. It’s not like any of the other vampire movies… I… I don’t know what I’m allowed to say. [Jokingly] It’s Clueless for vampires. No, no. I don’t want to give away a major plot point, but it’s not your typical vampire movie.


Recent Features

Gene Kelly retro at Film Society (thru Jul 26)

July 13, 2012

I'm happy again and like myself: 100 years of Gene.


Erich Von Stroheim retro at Film Forum (thru Jul 30)

May 28, 2012

The decadent realism of Hollywood's favorite sadist.


Migrating Forms Fest at Anthology (thru May 20)

May 11, 2012

Traveling through time and space at NYC's upstart experimental film fest.

View All →