MVD Visual // 2009 // 85 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Roman Martel (Retired) // January 20th, 2012
Sometimes stepdads can be a real pain in the neck.
No, this is not part of a strange series of films that includes I Was a Teenage Werewolf, My Stepmother is an Alien, and My Best Friend is a Vampire. I can't even imagine what the series guide for that would look like.
As if Rusty (Lahcen Anajjar, Rigged) didn't have enough problems; he's a teenager getting over the death of his father, an amateur magician, and had to grow up with the last name Funkouser. I can only imagine what middle school was like. Now his mother has gone and married Richard (Larry Peterson, The Battle for Bunker Hill), who annoys the hell out of him.
So when Rusty discovers the dead body of local mailman in the attic, he's convinced his stepfather is a murderer. Well the truth is even worse: he's a bloodsucking vampire bent on world domination. The only people who believe Rusty are his reluctant best friend and the school's misanthropic janitor. Can Rusty fight the forces of darkness and save his mom from her poor choice of falling in love with the undead?
Love the title. My Stepdad's a Freakin' Vampire! sets up its goals right there. Some laughs, some scares...perfect stuff for a weekend rental. Sadly, though the script has plenty of great ideas at its core, the movie never delivers what its title promises.
Part of the problem is Rusty; I really didn't like him. He's supposed to be the typical teenager with an attitude problem. The thing is, I just couldn't get behind his quest to rid the town of vampires. It's bad when you want the main character to be the first victim of demonic forces. The janitor, Gert (John Redmond, American Maniacs), is actually a more interesting character. Sure he's a grouchy unlikable jerk, but we find out why -- his family was slaughtered by Richard. Rusty is just a jerk because he can be.
My Stepdad's a Freakin' Vampire! also suffers from pacing problems, much of which has to do with the comedy. Most of the jokes fall flat and the ones that do connect are too few to comment on. This makes the film's 85 minute runtime feel like a full blown two hour endurance test. Yes, there are a few effective jump scares, but it doesn't get the horror element right either.
I feel I should say something good about the film, because it's obviously something the cast and crew put a lot of work into. The production values are solid, especially for a low budget film. Composer Douglas Edward puts a great deal of gothic fun into his score, which helps...a bit. And did I mention the title is really awesome?
My Stepdad's a Freakin' Vampire! gets a decent DVD release. The standard definition 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is crisp and strong, even the darker scenes. The Dolby 2.0 stereo mix is well-balanced, with music and dialogue coming through loud and clear. For extras, we get a commentary track with Edward and a blooper reel.
This might have looked good on paper, but the film fails to reach its horror-comedy potential.
More guilty than I hoped. Stake 'em!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: MVD Visual
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site