Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Cinema File #82: "Vampire Dog" Review

(slow, muffled sob)

Okay, let's do this thing.

So I'm a big Norm MacDonald fan. If you don't remember him, he was the last good SNL Weekend Update anchor, and now shows up mostly to be the one funny joke in Adam Sandler/Rob Schneider movies. I loved his one and only written movie Dirty Work and his sitcom The Norm Show is on my list alongside Get A Life as one of the most underrated of all time. He's always been one of my favorite comedians, so whenever I see him pop up in something, I'm always curious to see what he brings to the table. Often, this instinct betrays me, as in today's feature, the second time Norm has suckered me with a talking dog movie, in this case, the Canadian straight to DVD effort Vampire Dog.

Vampire Dog is the story of, well, a Vampire Dog. I guess. I mean, he doesn't drink blood or turn into a Dog Bat, and he claims to be allergic to sunlight, but then goes into the sunlight with no ill effects. He has super speed and can mesmerize people, but for the most part, his supposed vampirism is as inconsistent as it is completely arbitrary to the plot. He might as well be Super Dog or FrankenDog for all it matters. Then again, talking about things mattering to the story is a luxury that a viewer of this movie does not have. Vampire Dog is where logic, reason, and entertainment go to die, and they don't come back to life at any point, undead or otherwise.

As a fan of the lead voice actor, this movie exists purely to make me sad. Macdonald is one of those comics whose lack of more mainstream success has always been befuddling and even somewhat tragic considering the classic comedy he's already managed to produce. The fact that he felt the need to do this movie is a testament to the un-meritocratic nature of comedy, that Carlos Mencia could become a household name, while Norm languishes in straight to DVD family movie obscurity. I can only assume of course that he did this movie for the money, as I can't imagine what he saw in the script that could have seemed creatively rewarding. Why hire Norm Macdonald if you weren't going to let him be funny? This movie is Nature Calls all over again. This thing is a humor void from which laughs cannot escape.

It simply mystifies me that anyone thought this would be a worthwhile endeavor. What is the audience for this movie? Who would find this amusing? As they were making it, did they laugh at anything that was being filmed? Okay, that last part I do know, because the movie is kind enough to provide possibly the most unnecessary blooper reel in the history of film. Fudging a line, chuckling, and then trying again, is not a blooper. A blooper is by nature something unexpectedly funny that arises from a blown take, not just a blown take presented as funny because they didn't say the thing they were supposed to. I wouldn't bring it up except the complete lack of enthusiasm on display in these candid moments belies the utter lack of passion had by everyone involved in making this movie.

That may not sound like anything strange, that people making a movie wouldn't care if it was good or not, but the fact is, I want to make movies some day. I've written scripts, worked on amateur productions, and one day hope to be a major creative influence on a professional film. This has been a dream of mine for sometime, and I literally cannot conceive of a scenario in which I would become so jaded with the process of filmmaking that I would let something like Vampire Dog be a reflection on my talent. Even if I only get as far as the Asylum making insane mockbusters of big budget movies, assuming I even make it that far, the day I can't take pride in my work is the day I find another career. Considering how hard it can often be to mount any sort of movie, even a low budget one, to take it for granted like this just seems like an insult on top of a waste of time and effort.

As you might have guessed, I can't recommend Vampire Dog at all. The shittiness of this movie not only bored me, it disturbed me, shaking my self esteem as an amateur screenwriter with the reminder that, like Norm Macdonald ironically, I haven't been able to turn my talent into anything close to mainstream success, while other, clearly less worthy projects are realized. This movie is my Carlos Mencia, and coincidentally enough, its also about as funny as Carlos Mencia, which is to say, not at all.

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