NINJAS VS VAMPIRES
Ninja vs Vampires is clearly made by a group of fanboys who, to quote their own press kit, have drawn inspiration from pop-culture, cult-classic films, and energy drink induced insomniatic fits. They delight in packing the film with in-references to their favourite movies, tv and comic-books, even in-jokes about Kevin Smith films. Jay Saunders describes his intent towards Devon Marie Burt in term of pop culture referents: I want you to be more than friends. Youre my Mary Jane, my Winnie Cooper, namedropping both Spider-Man comics and, in one obscure reference, tvs The Wonder Years (1988-93). Even the end credits reflect the fanboy slavishness with dedications such as To Kevin Smith who kinda knows we exist ... and Joss Whedon who still doesnt know we exist.
One of the best parts of the film is Justin Timpanes amusingly snappy dialogue. There is a good deal of comedic mileage derived from the scenes where Devon Marie Burt forgets everything out of the ordinary that she witnesses or is said to her. The conception of vampires and their internal politics is perhaps just a little too drawn from recent tv shows, in particular tvs Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) and True Blood (2008-14) the film even uses the term glamour to refer to a vampires mind control ability that was introduced by the latter. The deference to True Blood is denoted in one of the frequently sarcastic lines at one point: Youre not exactly Vampire Bill with his mind control. There are also some amusing lines about why the vampires dont sparkle viz Twilight (2008) and sequels. The clear conception of the team of people with various powers ninja, a vampire and a witch seems to have been modelled on the X-Men and there are a number of lines thrown in this direction comparing the shaven-headed Cory Okouchi to Professor Xavier or lines like Thought you were going all Dark Phoenix on us there for a second.
Justin Timpane is serviced by a fine cast, which is especially notable given that all of them are unknowns. Particularly good is Daniel Ross who is almost a dead ringer for James DeBello from Cabin Fever (2002) and Transylmania (2009). Ross has DeBellos horndog frat boy role down pat and as such one expects him to play the role this way, only for Ross to turn the part around into one that has some surprisingly strong and sympathetic depths to it. You never expect such worthwhile acting to emerge in a low-budget film cast with unknowns.
One of the better aspects of the film is that Justin Timpane has taken some effort to choreograph convincing martial arts scenes where the cast have made a good deal of effort to practice these so that the scenes come across convincingly it is clearly them blocking moves with one another rather than stuntmen or actors pretending to. On the minus side, there are times that Ninja vs Vampires undeniably shows that its low budget. One of these is the killing of the vampires who, a la Buffy the Vampire Slayer, disintegrate into animated puffs of dust when staked, although here these are very cheaply animated, which only serves to show up the films B-budget origins.