Thursday, August 04, 2005

More on Bloodsuckers

I know, I should have better things to do with my time. In fact, I do. There are any number of things I should be doing right now, including the dishes. But, as bad as Bloodsuckers was, it must have been successful on one level: I've been thinking about it a lot. I've been thinking about vampires and vampire-hunters, generally. Bloodsuckers chose to go with the John Carpenter (Vampires, 1988) vampire-hunter model, which is that the hunters are almost more bloodthirsty than the vampires. They go in, guns blazing, and kick vampiric ass into next week, swearing like sailors the whole time. I'm not at all adverse to guns blazing, ass-kickin', or cussin' up a blue streak in my action films, but there's something that happens to me when this is paired up with vampires. I find my sympathy shifts. I start asking myself deep philosophical questions, like, are these yahoos supposed to be the good guys? I think part of my problem is that I'm a vampire fan. I read and watch things in which vampires are imbued with a certain amount of humanity (tortured or demonized as it may be.) Frankly, I'm kind of a classic vampire fan. I don't mind people messing with the formula (no sun, pale skin, coffin-sleeping, what-have-you) but one part of the classic vampire that I really enjoy is the turned-human aspect... or even alien-among-us, you know? I like the vampire who thinks like a human being, albeit a twisted, potentially evil one. What I'm saying is about conflict. I found the "heroes" of Bloodsuckers unsympathetic because they were brutal against an equally brutal and brutish enemy. There was no level of skill or intellect needed to whoop vampire ass. There was no sense, even, of an intellectually equal (or superior) villain. I find I like the vampire who is smarter and more wily than his/her hunter. That makes the game a challenge. It also, strangely, makes the hunter more sympathetic. I mean, it's weird to think I can relate more to someone who is dumber than his/her enemy, but it's true. If I get a sense that the hero actually has to work to defeat the villain (who, in a best case scenario for my enjoyment, is also a wo/man struggling with his inhuman/inhumane nature). Also, I tend to question the line. You know the one. The line that differentiates between a hero and a villain. If our heroes are killers and the enemy must be destroyed because they kill, when does the cycle of violence end? One of the ways in which "Buffy" dealt with this issues was that the vampires literally turned into a pile of ashes at True Death. That served to remind the audience that these were *not* people, they were dead humans inhabited by demons. Thus, Buffy isn't a "true" killer, after all. (She does kill, but only demons). Also, Joss Whedon, being the wise and powerful writer that he is, also gave us Faith, who accidentally stakes a living human, so that we have to deal with the issue of what's the difference between a vampire hunter who kills and anyone else who kills. Also, just to mess with our heads he gave us Angel, the vampire cursed with a soul. And, of course, Spike, who was just plain hot. But, I'm getting off track. The point is, I think that when the enemy is a vampire, it's kind of a cheat to make them flesh-eating zombies without any real intelligence or humanity (or, in the case of Bloodsuckers, alien cultures.) Bloodsuckers could have been a much better film if the writers had done a little world-building and made-up some good reasons why these vampiric aliens did what they did. If they had rituals, relationships, lives, lovers... Anything vaguely resembling something human. Alas, they did not.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Bloodsuckers! (A SCI-FI channel original movie)

As someone who loves both vampires and science fiction, I felt it was my duty to watch Bloodsuckers (a science fiction channel original movie). In a nutshell, vampires are the dominant species we encounter in outer space, and our heros are a rag-tag band of science fiction stock antiheros whose job it is to hunt down and destroy the aboriginal vamps to make the universe safe for our cultural imperialism and irresponsible environmental policies. You think I'm joking about that last part? I wish I were. S P O I L E R S The main villain of the movie is a woman who leads a group of humans who are sympathetic to the vampires. She and her crew act as a kind of vampire-loving jihad who sabotage human colonies and space stations alike so the vampires can swoop in past the defenses and munch on the humans -- (no discussion for us truly skiffy folks for a) why the alien vampires from space even have a taste for human flesh/blood and why they can metabolize it or b) what happened to whatever alternate indigenous species said vampires must have munched into extinction before meeting us). Her main motivation for going traitor on the human race is the above, almost verbatim. And, yes, she's also a vegetarian. The vampires were distressingly more zombie-like than actual alien cultures. They quite literally went "blah-blah!" and wagged their tongues while dismembering various victims. Also, apparently due to the human race's (and, specifically American) cultural imperialism, they ALL dressed like biker/goths, complete with studded leather. The only vaguely interesting vampire was the one that was part of the human vampire-killing crew. Psychic and into Tantric sex, she was actually, as she explained later, a dhympr -- the sexual offspring of a two, in this case, turned-from-human vampires. She could have been interesting had the writers made more of her story, IMHO. But, other than having some humanity instilled in her from her parents, we really don't know why she's on our side, especially considering the abuse she puts up with from the crew while she drinks her microwaved plasma from a medical bag. Unfortunately, she's not even vaguely conflicted about being a vampire as far as I could tell, despite the fact that she should be embarrassed to speak the same language as the evil sock puppet of doom that the crew meets up with at one point. (Too hard to explain.) The crew held a few surprises. The annoying rookie beta male side-kick who provided the useful character to give all the infodumps to (as you know, bob, this particular species of vampires can be killed simply by "bleeding out" [aka any old puncture wound, like a bullet, instead of needing a stake to the heart] and travels in large packs) ended up being the captain, because the movie was filmed so on the cheap that they couldn't afford their major B-list star, Joe Lando (of "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman") for the entire two hours of the film. I will admit to being mildly surprised when they killed off their hard-drinkin', vampire hatin' alpha male in the first 45 minutes. Though it was probably a good move, because I wasn't sure how much of his "let's waste these cockroaches" dialogue I could take -- though, unfortunately, the extra-butch female Asian (with lavender hair, so we know it's the future,) crew member picked up the slack for him. Bloodsuckers was billed as Buffy meets Star Trek. Ah, if only. Speaking of Joss Whedon, however, as the crew milled about on the starship I kept having flashbacks to Firefly. Does anyone know? Did Joss loan out Serenity for this drek of a film? I feel I should come back to my theme about the whiteness of space, but I'm not sure I care enough about this movie to be relatively impressed that we saw at least one black vampire (especially since I'm not sure its an honor to be among the blah-blah! aliens.) The only other member of the crew (besides the Asian woman) with any kind of implied ethnicity was Roman, the slacker space cowboy. His name suggests he might be Russian or Ukrainian, though there was nothing about him other than that which gave any sense of ethnic identity. As a final comment, all I can say is: as stupid and dimwitted as these alien vampires appeared, there should have been no real challenge or conflict for the vampire slayers. The fact that there was says a lot about how bad this movie really was.