Vampiro (2009)

VampiroReviewed by The Foywonder

Starring Damian Chapa, Veronica Rodriguez, Vida Harlow, Leslie Garza, Armando El Camino

Directed by Jorge Ramirez Rivera

Vampiro is a Mexican-American Blade wannabe about a daywalking half-breed vampire that never quite made up its mind whether it wanted to focus on the romance between the vamp and his tramp or the odd father-daughter love story between the vampire and the vampire child he looks after or if it just wanted to be an action film that didn’t have the budget to properly stage the necessary action scenes – not that it would have mattered much in the end. Written to be almost impenetrably convoluted, the plot appears fairly simple-minded on its surface, but 10,000 voiceovers do not a plot make. It all might have made more sense to me if the prevailing dullness was not constantly working to beat my attention span into submission.

That the titular Vampiro is named Casanova Vladimires living on a houseboat and one of his foes boasted the moniker Vampira Sexicana had me believing Vampiro was going to be more lively than it proved to be, only achieving a level of campy fun for a few fleeting moments nearly an hour in when evil vampire henchmen dressed like Jawas attempt to ambush an unsuspecting Casanova in broad daylight. Telenovela production values, hand-to-hand combat that makes backyard wrestling look like a Tony Jaa fight scene, and an endless amount of exposition suck the life’s blood out of the production far more than any vampire could ever possibly do.

Equally lifeless are the actors. All of the characters may be the living dead, but given how stiff their line readings are, you’d swear they were merely dead dead.

Actor Damian Chapa (Under Siege and Blood In, Blood Out) is required to talk almost non-stop, whether it be in voiceover or actual dialogue, to such length I had already grown weary of the sound of his voice by the half-hour mark. Chapa has to explain to us who Casanova is, how he came to be, what he is thinking and feeling at the moment, why he is on a crusade to find the vampire that gave rise to him, who the psychic vampire child he plays surrogate parent to is, who his mortal lady love Blanca is, who rival vampiro Tex is and why Tex is after him, and so on and on and on and on. It doesn’t help that Count Never-Shuts-The-Hell-Up sounds like Puss ‘n Boots from Shrek after taking a Soma or two.

Then, Casanova, preparing to walk outnumbered into a climactic ambush, says something to his lady love about how he would have the advantage over his enemies that for one brief shining moment filled me with such giddy anticipation I was prepared to wipe the slate clean and judge this film based solely on what was to come.

“They’re afraid of the ocean. They’re afraid … of sharks.”

Is the shark a natural predator of the vampire? Was I really about to watch a vampire movie end with an undead bloodsucker meeting its makers in the jaws of a shark? I’m afraid that obtuse line of dialogue did not pay off as I had hoped, and no amount of vampire vs. vampire oar fu could salvage Vampiro from the doldrums of vampire movie sucktitude.

1 out of 5

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