To an aristocratic Scotland of large estates and big castles, 8-year-old
Tony Thompson and his family have come on temporary assignment from San
Diego. Tony's parents are the types who tell the Scots to speak English
when they have trouble understanding them. While there, Tony befriends
and bonds with a little vampire, Rudolph (Rollo Weeks), about his own
age -- for the past 300 years.
Jonathan Lipnicki, charming in STUART LITTLE but cloying in JERRY
MAGUIRE, is relatively benign this time as Tony. With spiked hair full
of gel, nerdy glasses and a frozen expression, he does nothing to
enliven Ulrich Edel's THE LITTLE VAMPIRE, which is as dead as a vampire
with a stake through its heart. One supposes that the movie is meant to
be taken as a comedy, but it is a low-key and lifeless one with its best
scenes generating only a small grin. It does, however, give a new
meaning to the old expression, "I could eat a cow." Nothing in this
flat film is worth outright laughs.
With its cheap special effects and unattractive, bleak cinematography,
the movie isn't much fun to watch either. It's an unimaginative,
low-budget feature that you would expect to be released as a
direct-to-TV movie on a kids' cable network.
In a blend of the crazy exterminator from MOUSE HUNT and the maniacal
snowplow man from SNOW DAY, Rookery (Jim Carter) comes to kill off a
local "infestation of vampires." Dressed like a bum and acting like a
madman, Rookery carries a glowing cross made out of florescent tubes to
control the vampires. Of course, Tony will be threatened but will end
up saving the day.
Parents need to be warned about this film whose trailers look innocent
and which comes with just a PG rating. It has significant potential to
frighten younger viewers. Among many troublesome scenes is one in which
Tony emerges with a bloody mouth and face as if he has been sucking
blood from someone's neck. Later we briefly see a ketchup bottle
sitting on a table, but kids will have long since been scared and
probably won't notice the bottle anyway. Another has Tony apparently
buried alive in a casket with rats. And overall the movie is filled
with dark images and spooky atmospherics.
The childish story doesn't have much to recommend it to those over 12.
Those under 9 could end up with some major nightmares. The 9 to
12-year-olds, however, are the perfect demographics for this lame
production. They deserve much better, but if you've got kids in this
limited age group, they'll probably like it. My son did.
THE LITTLE VAMPIRE runs 1:37. It is officially rated PG for "some mild
peril," but remember my warning. It would be acceptable for most kids
My son Jeffrey, age 11, gave the picture ****. He said that he liked
the way the movie had a strong but simple plot and that Rudolph was his
favorite character. His only complaint was that he didn't like the
ending scene and that the PG rating was too mild. He wanted a new
"PG-8" rating for it.
Copyright © 2000 Steve Rhodes