Matthew Bright sets up an appealingly slick scenario an elite of chic vampires who live in Hollywood and run vampire nightclubs. The script is full of quirky touches vampires seen filing their teeth; a vampire woman who has been pregnant for fifteen years; and some funny scenes with Van Helsing having to recruit L.A. gangbangers as his team of vampire hunters. There are all manner of wittily acerbic one-liners Kim Cattrall meets a producer at a party: Did you ever do any hardcore porn? Im a tv producer, he replies indignantly. I can see that youre short.
Unfortunately, Modern Vampires falls flat. Matthew Bright seems to want to create a smart, savvy modern vampire film; Richard Elfmans approach is light and cartoonish. Every time a vampire bites someone, for instance, Elfman throws in ridiculous fast-forward montages of lightning bolts, flowers and graveyards. Bright may well have intended the vampires to utter bitchy barbs but the way they come out is campy. Almost every member of the cast Casper Van Dien, Kim Cattrall, Udo Kier and The Drew Carey Show (1995-2004) regular Craig Ferguson overacts atrociously. Robert Pastroellis beefy, swarthy, lisping Dracula must surely be if not the, at least a strong contender for, the worst ever airing of the Dracula role. Amidst this, Rod Steiger, a prize over-actor, is uncustomarily restrained and not too bad as Van Helsing. The best player in the show is Natasha Gregson Wagner, whose tough, brattish street vampire is one of the few restrained performances the scenes with her are the most convincing in the film. This is one occasion where a style-heavy director full of flashy poses and edgy attitudes Razor Blade Smile (1998)s Jake West would have been ideal would have suited the film perfectly, whereas Richard Elfmans campy, unsubtle approach ruins a good script.
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