Dir: Luca Bercovici
Star: Dean Cameron, Tawny Feré, Toni Basil, Thomas Dolby

Truly a deeply crappy concept here: a semi-musical about 400-year-old vampire, Ralph (Cameron), who is doomed to meet his one true love (Feré) every 22 years, only to lose her to murder at the hands of a pirate with a rhinestone peg-leg wielding a hambone. Throw in 'Mickey' herself (Basil) as Ralph's over-protective mom, another 80's pop eccentric (Dolby) as Ralph's nemesis, a music mogul funeral director, plus Bo Diddley and Susan Tyrell and you have a recipe for total disaster. And this is even before you get to concepts that don't stop at Rockula, but also include Rapula (surely a C is missing there...) and Cameron impersonating Elvis under the end credits. Ralph can't fly, his ability to change into other forms is severely limited, and he still lives at home with mom, while harbouring dreams of music stardom.

Yet, despite 1990 being at least five years too late for Basil or Dolby to be relevant (I say this, even though I've been a fan of the latter forever), this slides by on an awareness of its own idiocy, and the cast giving it their all, even Dolby in what was basically his sole acting role. Cameron pulls amusing double-duty, also playing Ralph's sarcastic alter ego, trapped in any mirrors, though Feré appears to be taking things far too seriously for her own and the movie's good. For the film is best when it acknowledges its own dumbness. The hip-hop song mentioned above, despite my snark, is one such sequence, likely being the only one ever to name-check political columnist William Safire. One of the few things which rhymes with "vampire", I imagine. I went in, fully intending to smirk at the film, yet ended up respecting it for resolutely refusing to give a damn. The horror-comedy-musical field is not exactly over-populated, and you can see why, since this fails in each category, for one reason or another. However, the whole ends up somewhat more than the sum of parts, and will be a blast of nostalgia for new wave kids of the eighties like me.

[April 2015]

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