Vampire movies don’t get much more adorable than Vamps, the winning yet curiously unheralded reunion of Clueless writer-director Amy Heckerling and star Alicia Silverstone. Hell, movies don’t get much more adorable than Vamps, which casts Silverstone as an ancient vampire who drinks the blood of rats because she’s too kind-hearted to feed off fellow humans. Silverstone is so sweet that she can’t bring herself to tell her roommate, best friend and fellow vampire Krysten Ritter, that she’s actually more than a century-and-a-half old, since Ritter derives comfort from thinking they’re the same age. Like the humor of the film she so confidently and charmingly carries, Silverstone is defiantly old-fashioned, a charmer from a less mean-spirited and cynical age who looks surprisingly comfortable jitterbugging and wearing fashions from the ’20s and ’30s.
Vamps combines broad Borscht Belt comedy and inspired stunt casting (particularly the terminally milquetoast Wallace Shawn as its vampire-hunting Van Helsing) with a surprisingly poignant take on the painful necessity of aging and mortality. These themes are strongly expressed in Silverstone’s tender relationship with a ’60s radical (Richard Lewis) who kept on aging while Silverstone vanished before the love of her life could figure out why his girlfriend never seems to get any older. There’s an underlying sadness to Lewis and Silverstone’s impossible love that lends a welcome element of melancholy and deep emotion to what is otherwise a clever, sweet, kicky, and funny take on well-worn vampire mythology.
Availability: Vamps is in the midst of a very limited theatrical release (New York and L.A. only), but it’s also available as an On Demand rental and was released on DVD on Tuesday.