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Vampires Anonymous

The Cinequest film festival is usually a place for films about gay folks struggling for acceptance and masturbation, without a single film to appeal to the fanboys of the world.

This year, a film made it in that changes all of that: Vampires Anonymous, a movie dripping fanboy love for 87 minutes.

The film's plot is silly. Vic, a vampire played by Paul Popowich, makes a call for help after eating his most recent girlfriend in the back of his '57 Chevy. In this moment of clarity before the credits, Vic realizes that he wants to give up the vamp lifestyle, and admits he has a problem.

He contacts Vampires Anonymous and they set him down the twelve steps to a normal lifestyle. He is given a sponsor, played by a bearded Michael Madsen, who wears loud shirts and has mob ties. By this point, the comedy has started to gel around the steps themselves, all of which are modeled on the Alcoholics Anonymous structure.

As part of his rehabilitation, Vic is sent to a small town in North Carolina, where, as the VA testing has shown, he will dine on the tastiest sheep in America. He sets up shop in a taxidermy shop next to a haunted house right at the start of the house's busy season. With everything in place, he dines on the resident sheep population, and meets Maggie (Nicole Forester) and starts to fall in love.

As always, complications arrive and Vic has himself a nice feed on the real deal. Flying back and forth to LA for meetings with his sponsor, Vic is shown as a confused vamp who's not sure if he can actually live a regular life. He is also hunted by a "Corporate Slayer," played by the beautiful Michelle Stafford, a young woman who regularly injects herself with vamp repellent serum.

While she is obviously tough as nails, she's not very bright, and Vic outsmarts her in a diner interrogation. The love story between Maggie and Vic blooms, and the entire climax takes place in the only location it could in a story like this: the haunted house, while folks are taking the tours.

The first thing I loved about this movie was the soundtrack. Ska rhythms and a touch of psychobilly set the tone. Vic himself rides a Vespa, wears a maroon flight jacket, skinny ties, and two-tone spectator wing-tips. He's the reluctant rude boy vampire, and it adds a layer of comedy to the film beyond the sheep jokes. The framing device, the illustration of the twelve steps, is a good one, and the filmmakers play with the graphics themselves.

While I went into this wanting a Michael Madsen vamp movie, it is really owned by Popowich. He's not the over the top vampire that he could have played, and his subtle bursting in the small town adds a layer, though his performance is the only thing that keeps it from being too thick a coat.

Madsen is good in the role he has, though they only had him for one day and it shows in the rushed feeling of some of his scenes. I was most impressed with Steve Monroe, a local sheriff wannabe who regularly drinks before noon but solves the case of the mysterious sheep disappearances. He plays the yokel/narrator for laughs, and it gives the film a fresh comedic scent, even though it's just the same joke you expect in a different, hilarious package.

If you get a chance to see Vampires Anonymous, do so, for God's sake! It's a movie made with fanboys in mind, and it does our type proud. It will likely be available on video in the near future, and a theatrical release is not out of the question. For the time being, keep an eye out for showings in festivals around the country, or at cons in your neighborhood.

Chris Garcia

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