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Vamps

Author: Amy Heckerling
Genre: Romantic Comedy/Horror
Storyline: 4
Dialogue: 7
Characterization: 5
Writer’s Potential: 6

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Recommendation?

Pass

Logline:

Two vampire party girls face persecution and find love in New York City.

Synopsis:

GOODY (20s), adorable in an old-fashioned way, wakes from a nightmare about happy beach bunnies frolicking on a sunny beach. She sleeps in a coffin, and she’s waking up at sunset. Her best friend and roommate, STACY (20s, also a vampire), sleeps in another coffin. Goody wakes her up. Stacy complains about running low on home soil, which is making her wake with back pain. Stacy talks with a college academic advisor. When he says she needs to retake classes she took decades ago, Stacy hypnotizes him into giving her the classes she wants. Goody and Stacy have a night job for a pest-control company. They kill rats and drink their blood, poking them with straws like juice boxes. They’re summoned by their “stem” (the oldest surviving vampire in their line), CISSERUS, a beautiful and commanding woman. She wants them to try on the latest fashions for her and chides them for not feeding on humans. Stacy and Goody go clubbing and try to pick up guys. They run into RENFIELD (an accountant who desperately wants to be turned into a vampire) and VADIM (the vampire equivalent of a date rapist). Goody has a hard time keeping up with the trends. Vadim warns Goody that Cisserus must stay alive, or else any of her “offshoots” (i.e., Goody and Stacy) will rapidly progress to their real ages. This will, in effect, bring Stacy back to life but age her to her 40s (she was turned 20 years ago), but the much older Goody will surely die.

After picking up their guys, Goody and Stacy separate for the rest of the night. Goody’s beau, a bland rock singer, snorts some cocaine and gets a nosebleed. Goody can’t resist the temptation to lick up the blood. Meanwhile, Stacy has a similar response when her beau talks nonstop about her “sucking” him — but both resist the compulsion to kill the men. When they return to the apartment, the girls commiserate about the weird experiences. Stacy checks the mail and finds her expected shipment of hometown soil has arrived — but it’s been destroyed in transit. Stacy thinks it’s a Homeland Security conspiracy, but Goody laughs off the suggestion. Meanwhile, police have found Cisserus’s latest victim in a dumpster. DR. VAN HELSING, on behalf of Homeland Security, wants to investigate the unusual rash of “animal deaths,” but the cops scoff at his lack of jurisdiction and send him on his way. The next night, Goody and Stacy attend a “Sanguines Anonymous” meeting. Privately, before the meeting, Goody confesses to VLAD TEPISH (a Bela Lugosi type), a Romanian stem, that she was turned in 1841. She asks about Vadim’s warning, and Tepish insists he’s seen it happen. Goody’s afraid that the heat will come down on Cisserus, and she’ll end up dead, but she’s glad to hear Stacy will be somewhat okay.

The group goes around the room. Tepish describes his story, making it clear that he is Vlad the Impaler. Stacy explains her story, and that Goody saved her life by insisting Cisserus turn her into a vampire. After the meeting, Goody complains about current trends and how stupid young people are. Stacy seems unfazed. Goody hasn’t told Stacy how old she truly is, so she’s surprised that no photos of Goody exist. Stacy quickly whips up a composite photo on her computer, which looks identical to Goody. Goody is touched and sort of shocked. The next night, Stacy starts a class on Surrealism. She sits in the back of the class and cracks jokes with JOEY VAN HELSING, a cute Indian guy. When she finds out the name, Stacy shrugs it off — he couldn’t possibly be related. Stacy and Goody go to work, this time at a hospital. Stacy accidentally eats some lab rats that have been injected with drugs. She begins hallucinating. Meanwhile, Goody spots someone from her past — DANNY (60s, an ex-hippie), whose wife has been diagnosed with cancer. Danny spots Goody. She hides from him, then drags Stacy out under the cover of darkness.

The next day, Danny investigates who last night’s exterminators were. That night, Stacy receives a jury duty summons. They’re both shocked, as they live entirely off the grid — however, Stacy is still listed as alive, and she voted for Mike Dukakis before she got turned. At their SA meeting, a fake vampire infiltrates it, but the real vamps scare her away. The group discusses the harassment they’ve been experiencing. Stacy’s jury summons is just the latest in a string of government interference in their lifestyle. They decide to get as many vampires — including stems and “human feeders” — involved as possible. They need to know the full extent of the conspiracy. Goody and Cisserus are at a loss, because they don’t know where her resting place is. Later, Stacy goes on a date with Joey. He takes her home, where she meets Dr. Van Helsing and his Indian wife. They’re polite but suspicious. Stacy flees quickly. During the day, Van Helsing uses Homeland Security resources to track and kill vampires in their resting places. At work, Goody is shocked when Danny shows up and starts talking to her. She quickly lies that Goody was her mother, who has passed on now. Stacy is impressed by the smoothness of her deceit. Dr. and Mrs. Van Helsing sit down and encourage him to stop seeing Stacy. He refuses.

Goody spends time catching up with Danny and falls in love with him all over again — but before anything can happen, she’s summoned by Cisserus. Goody and Stacy discuss with her the conspiracy, but she’s uninterested — she wants their help getting her on a cargo jet to Spain. She’s obsessed with having a Spanish rock star. Joey calls Stacy and tells her that her parents liked her well enough, but they thought she was suspiciously pale. Stacy makes excuses, then immediately goes to town with every fake-tanning scheme available. She ends up looking like a ridiculous orange mess. This makes the Van Helsings even more suspicious. Joey shows Stacy the family’s weapons, which includes a special decapitating sickle designed to be placed inside a coffin with suspected vampires. They have an awkward dinner. Shortly after Stacy and Joey leave, the fake vampire who crashed their SA meeting comes out of a hidden room. She can’t positively identify Stacy as a vampire, to Van Helsing’s annoyance.

Goody prepares for a pseudo-date with Danny by dressing in a hodgepodge of fashions from the 20th century. Danny’s house is a mess — he works for the ACLU, which occupies most of his time. He tells Goody he’s done the research on her “mother” but found that she lives completely off the grid. He dismisses her by saying he’s going to the hospital, but she agrees to go with. While on the subway, they see an elderly couple attacked by two muggers. The elderly husband starts to have a heart attack, so Goody reluctantly intervenes, using lightning-fast skills and super-strength to incapacitate the muggers, then tears open the elderly man’s chest and spits in it, causing his condition to stabilize. She hypnotizes everyone on the train into thinking they saw something else — except Danny, who’s horrified. Danny realizes the vampire explanation makes a surprising amount of sense. Goody explains that she has venom that thins the blood, so spitting in his chest saved the elderly man’s life. Now that he knows he’s with the right person, Goody apologizes for abandoning him years ago.

Stacy and Joey have wild sex. Joey is blown away by the experience. Stacy has to rush to get home before sunrise. That night, the vampires finally have their meeting. Goody brings Danny into the meeting. He explains that, legally, Homeland Security can do all the things it’s doing to get the vampires. The only possible way to get rid of them is to avoid being located — stop using technology, go completely off-grid. After the meeting, Joey confronts Stacy — he’s realized she’s a vampire. He’s not mad, though. A montage follows as their love grows, culminating in Joey driving to Boston to get some hometown soil for Stacy. Just before sunrise one night, Goody thumbs through her farmer’s almanac and realizes a total eclipse is coming up in two weeks. She brings the news to the group, and they immediately strategize. If they time things just right, they can all clear up their various nuisance summons and tax audits before the eclipse is over. For the people who need to be in two places at once, those skilled in hypnosis agree to confuse the city employees into believing the others are there. By the day of the eclipse, the hypnosis vampires go everyone one better — rather than removing the recent summons, they erase the vampires’ full lives from the computer systems. That night, the vampires celebrate their victory over the government.

Stacy begins throwing up every time she wakes. Cisserus kills another man and forces Goody and Stacy to dispose of the body. Van Helsing finds security footage of a man seeming to “fly” off the Williamsburg bridge — the vampires don’t appear on camera. Goody sits patiently with Danny as he describes the torturous path his wife has taken. Goody realizes their love, to him, is little more than a distant memory. Goody asks Tepish about Stacy’s illness. Tepish believes she’s pregnant — it’s possible for vampires to get pregnant, but they’ll never carry the child to term. He says she’ll be fine in a week. Goody and Stacy find out about the bridge video and realize Cisserus is just plain going too far. Goody also tells Stacy she’s pregnant. To her surprise, both Stacy and Joey are thrilled with the news — but not with the news that the baby won’t survive. Renfield shows up with a new phone — the Google Wave. Goody flips out about technology ruining their lives. Goody asks Stacy to weigh the pros and cons of aging and how much she wants the baby. Stacy feels it’s time to grow up.

Goody brings Vadim and his stem, DMITRI, to the hospital to visit Danny and his wife. Goody asks Danny how he’d feel about his wife surviving. He realizes what she’s asking and tells her to do it. Dmitri turns Danny’s wife into a vampire (in this script, only the “stems” have the ability to create new vampires), and her strength returns immediately. Danny is grateful. Goody visits Van Helsing. They agree to a truce — she’ll supply all the information he needs in order to kill Cisserus. Van Helsing agrees after Goody explains the pregnancy and the seriousness of Stacy and Joey’s relationship. Goody also explains how old she is and why she became a vampire: at the height of the cholera epidemic, her entire family had died except her children, who miraculously lived through it. When Goody began feeling symptomatic, she met Cisserus and begged to be changed, so she could raise her kids. Van Helsing looks up Goody’s great-great-great-grandkids and discovers, with one exception, they’re all highly successful professionals.

At Grant’s tomb, Goody assists Van Helsing in killing Cisserus by decapitation. Van Helsing buries the head under Grant’s tomb. Stacy is immediately transformed to a woman in her 40s — but, thanks to clean living (while alive) and genetics, she doesn’t look much older. Goody, on the other hand, continues to age slowly, to Stacy’s surprise. Before Goody can die, Stacy realizes the sacrifice she’s made and thanks her. They take Goody to Times Square as the sun rises. Nearly 200 years spent in New York City flash before her eyes — the many great moments of her long life that occurred in Times Square. Finally, she turns into a skeleton and dissolves to ash.

Some time later, Stacy and Joey look more like adults than goofy college students. After arguing about Joey checking out a younger woman, they go to the Van Helsing home, where Van Helsing plays with their new baby, Goody.

Comments:

Vamps attempts to tell a coming-of-age story about two young women. It has a fun concept and some cute spins on traditional vampire lore. Although it’s amusing, the unfocused narrative and inconsistent characters add up to a frustrating experience. As written, it merits a pass.

The biggest liability of this script is its story’s lack of drive. The first act sets a meandering pace as Goody and Stacy move from one comic set-piece to another without much purpose. Although some of these seemingly random, pointless scenes exist to give the characters a little depth, they prevent the script from having narrative momentum. Instead of cause-and-effect, there’s a lot of wandering around and talking about vampire lore.

Even in the second act, when the script finally finds its plot around the halfway point, it feels like too much of an afterthought. The vamps spend a disproportionate amount of time discussing their plans for the eclipse, but the eclipse itself is condensed to a few brief, unsatisfying scenes. If the prelude to the eclipse had been more engrossing, or the vampires’ lives seemed more perilously affected by the government, perhaps the brevity of these scenes wouldn’t feel so disappointing. It’s the combination of this brevity and an overall lack of jeopardy and suspense that make the script feel plodding and aimless when its tone suggests a breezy, fast-paced comedy.

In the third act, it seems the writer finally realizes what she wants this script to be about — two vapid girls facing adult problems that force them to mature — but it’s too little, too late. Because the story is so unfocused, the big changes Goody and Stacy experience in the third act seem more contrived than they should. It’s unfortunate, because it’s really a smart idea for a vampire story — it’s just not very well-executed.

Goody and Stacy’s third-act transformations seem so contrived, in part, because their characters are so inconsistent. At times, Goody seems like a vapid, unintelligent party girl; at other points (sometimes in the very next scene), she’s portrayed as a sophisticated woman whose 200 years on Earth have made her incredibly wise. Stacy is not much different — from scene to scene, she goes from nerdy college student pining for her beloved 1980s to a flighty idiot obsessed with texting and Twitter. These wildly varying traits don’t form complex characters — they just seem to have personality overhauls whenever it serves the joke of the scene. This makes it difficult to buy into what little jeopardy they face throughout the script, and it makes it especially hard to feel a real emotional impact when Goody sacrifices herself so Stacy can live.

The supporting characters consist mostly of cute caricatures of famous characters in vampire literature. Like the main characters, their personalities change at the drop of a hat to suit the jokes. Some of the references to Dracula and Vlad the Impaler are funny, but overall these characters don’t have much else to make them compelling or entertaining.

Skillful direction and the right casting could make this work, but it seems a little more like the next Cirque du Freak than another Twilight.

Posted by D. B. Bates on January 28, 2010 6:20 PM  |   | Print-Friendly  | Professional Script Coverage

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