- Charnstar Anderson
Vampire Dad (2020)
The best movies surprise you.
I, for one, was surprised when I was watching some screenwriting videos on YouTube (instead of actually writing) and suddenly the video was interrupted… by an ad. This was no ordinary ad, for I was not compelled to click on the little Skip Ad button. It was kitschy. It was lame. It was hilarious. It was Vampire Dad (2020).
From that moment, I knew it must be mine!
If there were ever a reason not to install ad blocker software, it is that I would never have found this beautiful beast.
Pictured: All the emotions of watching Vampire Dad (2020)
I’ll start off with the bad, because it’s a low budget movie that I could only hire or buy on YouTube, GooglePlay or the Microsoft Store. I say bad, but it’s not bad. It’s what is expected.
Based in the early 1960s, you can get away with some cheap looking decor; it was the style at the time. Unfortunately, rather than looking like the style, it just looks cheap. The set design feels bland, and seeming we spent our entire time in one house, that’s a bit unfortunate. On the same hand, this means that all the clothes are slightly misfitting, giving it a very authentic cheap feel, more akin to your Santa Girl (2019) rather than your Velocipastor (2018). If there’s one thing I like in my cheap filmmaking, it’s honesty.
Pictured: Clothes just slightly off.
The lighting was a bit flat for the most part, which seems to be a limitation of the space rather than creativity, considering cinematographer Leah Anova and director Frankie Ingrassia really lean into more interesting camera work. I particularly liked the way both women utilised their dutch angles and wide lenses at opportune moments and in particular, their use of a split diopter lens. Every time they used the split diopter it felt earned and more times than not, hilarious.
The acting is purposely over the top, mimicking the style of the time. The one really bizarre exception being Barak Hardley as the brother-in-law of the titular Vampire Dad (2020); he seems like a very modern performance and stands out awkwardly. Don’t get me wrong, he’s funny, but doesn’t seem to gel with the rest. It’s like Jack Black in King Kong (2005).
My final little nitpick is the use of comic book transitions and three scenes that were entirely just animated comic strips. I actually loved this. I loved this because it's clear that they either weren’t able to shoot these moments or what they shot was unusable. One of these scenes is the only scene in the film to take place outside of the house, and let’s face it: they definitely only had one set. The other was the opening, which I assumed was animated because of the fact that there are children, and maybe because of shooting times they couldn’t shoot with children or something? Except during the end credits, you see children at the door trick or treating, just like the animated opening tells you…which means they shot that…and it sucked…so they had to redo it with as little budget possible.
I love this because I’ve done this! I was editing a film and had to recreate a whole scene with comic strips! I know the pain! I UNDERSTAND YOU VAMPIRE DAD (2020)!
Pictured: Banana Peel Man (2019) vs Vampire Dad (2020). #Iunderstand.
Anyway, unlike Santa Girl (2019), it doesn’t appear to have been shot with a film school helping out, so they don’t have that going for them.
I know, we all want to know the story of this Vampire Dad (2020). Is he more vampire? Or is he more dad? Or is he more…psychologist? That’s right, the fact that our Vampire Dad (2020) is even a Vampire Dad (2020) is an accident; it was meant to be a different psychologist! I don’t know whether that psychologist was a dad or not, but this Vampire Dad (2020) seems pretty upset that he’s been turned into a Vampire Dad (2020) and the Goddess of the Underworld mentions that the intended guy was recommended highly…so maybe he knew? Maybe he would’ve been totally cool with it?
Of course, if that were the focus, it would’ve been called Vampire Psychologist (????) and it’s not, it’s Vampire Dad (2020). So his dadness is the main focus of our story. His dadness of a teenage daughter who can’t find out about his vampireness. 1960s suburban America was a very conservative time, so hiding your vampireness is no simple feat, especially when your skin burns in sunlight! There are loads of little moments of obvious vampireness that they have to shrug away in moments of genuine hilarity.
And of course, what could challenge his dadness more than his teenage daughter with a new teenage boyfriend? This is the 1960s, so you know that this Vampire Dad (2020) is gonna be Vampire Mad about this Teenage Lad! So now he has to control his urges (he doesn’t) and get rid of him (he doesn’t) all without slipping up that he’s a vampire (he doesn’t).
Pictured: A Vampire Dad (2020) in his natural habitat.
Look, it’s a silly time, the stakes are simultaneously nothing and everything, and it’s about a Vampire Dad (2020). It’s not giving much, but I wasn’t really asking for much. My real complaint is that it didn’t focus more on the 'Psychology for Monsters' aspect of it. It boils down to one exposition scene, one montage, and then one scene at the end. When the idea was introduced, it felt like it was going to be a big thing, but it really was just a B-plot that barely felt relevant to the teenage love story.
See, this is the hard thing about watching these sorts of films. I love so-bad-it’s-good cinema that I don’t have to think about, because I turn off my brain, stop analysing and just enjoy. Then I arbitrarily made a “Theme” section in all of my reviews to show off the fact that I’m a film school graduate and I now have to fill that section like I know what I’m talking about.
Pictured: Split Diopter is also just code for "I have a film degree".
Okay, I got something.
It’s surprisingly nihilistic in the end. It’s played for a gag, but it’s there and it’s actually a concept introduced early on in the film. His first monster client is another vampire who has a depressing monologue about how all humans are good at is dying. And now, our Vampire Dad (2020) realises that he’s going to live for eternity while he watches all the people he loves around him die slowly. It’s a bummer, but it’s funny.
Yeah, let’s go with that.
Of course it was fun! It’s the sort of film I didn’t even need to watch drunk with friends, I just genuinely enjoyed it!
I do think they really dropped the ball when it came to monster psychology. They only show two monsters in the montage: a wolfman and a generic ghoul. I thought it was a budgetary thing, but then at the end they show an invisible man and a zombie too, but there’s voice over there. Come on, there’s so many easy gags that could have been!
“I just feel like people don’t see the real me!”
“I don’t want people to think I’m just moaning.”
Pictured: Missed potential.
But alas, you can’t have everything, can you?
Also, I mean, I’ve tried to avoid specific spoilers so far, but they randomly offhandedly mention that Bob (the brother-in-law) is a super special monster and they have a special cage for him? What is that about? Did I miss something? He works in a morgue and he sucks at hypnosis and loves boning old ladies, but otherwise, I don’t see anything special. Maybe I missed something. Maybe I should watch it again?
I dunno, but it’s available now on YouTube, GooglePlay and the Microsoft Store. If you like kitschy fun times, you should like Vampire Dad (2020) too. If you like split diopter shots, well boy, do they have them. If you want something that’s genuinely tense or scary, then what the hell are you still doing here? This ain’t the movie for you! Why did you even read this far? Are you mad? Git! Git going you!
Okay, now we've gotten rid of the riff raff, there’s an acid scene because he drank the blood of a guy who died while tripping balls. So wooo! Enjoy that!