11.01.2005

Movie Review: Vampire Bats!

It seems obvious that the hit smash Locusts would be worthy of a sequel. I’m sure it was just a matter of pulling the dynamic duo of writer Doug Prochilo (credits include Locusts and Vampire Bats…that’s it) and director Eric Bross (credits include Martha: Behind Bars) back together and away from what must be the most demanded calendars in all of Hollywood. Thank goodness CBS was able to get them along with Dylan Neal and Lucy Lawless (Xena) to create the ultimate sequel. Just when we though “after that whole locusts thing,” that all was well in the world…enter the bats! Vampire Bats!

Xena again plays Dr. Maddie Rierdon, a scientist and professor now relocated with her husband (Neal) and family in Louisiana at “Tate University.” Tate has a pretty sweet party scene and while this movie takes place in December, it is blazing hot and frats have out the slip-n-slides. The main characters, whose names I couldn’t even find anywhere, enter as stereotypical counterculture-emo partiers. Dashboard Confessional rings during the opening scene so you know this movie can’t suck! What a rocking song! Props to the music supervisor for making me break out the Kleenex before any significant plot development. One may think the movie is taking aim at the cliques of college life because the main character’s claim of the frat boys and sorority girls that “they’re just simpletons (WC?) who think they’re cool.” However, this potential plot is quickly lost when the emo kids blend in and go to an “underground rave” where they partake in the ecstasy-spiked Planter’s Punch. One of the emo kids gets a little disoriented and ends up in the jungle. Honestly. The jungle. I mean, it is Louisiana but dude, he was in the jungle. And then he got eaten by Vampire Bats. Or so we are to assume because of the movie title. This is the first time we see the Bat-Point-of-View (BPOV) cam. This dizzying camera effect really puts you into the bat’s eyes…good thing they’re blind (as a bat). Wouldn’t that have been neat if they just used a black screen…I think it would have been much more believable and would have allowed me to relate better to the bats.

We are now reintroduced to Xena and Neal who are complaining about their relative who is coming to babysit. The relative, played by Brett Butler, is described as “an over-caffeinated Mary Poppins.” It seems a bit odd that CBS had to reach all the way back to Grace Under Fire to find someone to help out with this mega-smash-hit movie, but I digress. They redeem themselves by using a more current CBS star in Craig Ferguson. He plays the Irish fisherman who is the second victim of the Vampire Bats, BPOV-style again. The first commercial break happens nicely after a memorable shot of his fishing hat floating by itself. Tragic. Who’s going to be left to crack sub-Conan, super-Carson quality jokes for the rest of this movie?

Another potential plot becomes evident when the two remaining emos are accused of killing their friend. The headline from the Tate student paper reads “Vampires Among Us.” I wish this plot had been developed much more; however, this is quickly solved by Xena gaining an unquestioned all-access to the police case and absolves the emos of the crime. Xena and Neal find the fisherman in their front yard, by chance of course, and when the police get there she notes that there’s “guano” on the man…another clarifies, “that’s bat droppings.” Yeah, thanks, we all saw Ace Ventura II. A completely unnecessary (or necessary to the motley crew I was with) bra-scene enters and a student gets attacked via BPOV. However, she just gets rabies. We soon learn that some corruption is going on and that some illegal waste dumping has altered a species of bats to give them extra fangs, “they feed more frequently, and they’re deadly.” By the way, when they attack, they completely drain people of their blood; in like 30 seconds…this causes me to feel scared. Well done. After a nice cross-cutting sequence of Vampire Bats attacking a college rave and a high-brow boat party, a group of students ally with Xena to break the mandated curfew and the law by trying to capture some of the bats. They do and figure out that they are attracted to sound, or “have no taste in music” according to the resident comedian. The movie continues to twist and turn uncovering the corruption of the forest management guy who tries to kill Xena but dies. He dies in the process of killing all the bats by capturing them in a steam sewer and steaming them to death. This ending was much more convincing than Locusts, but that’s like saying you’re more convinced that Jason from MTV’s Laguna Beach is less of a womanizer than Ben Franklin.

So what is this movie really about? The most obvious theory is that this is a polemic against the Bush camp’s stance (or lack thereof) on global warming. One might find convincing evidence for this theory because of the discussion of the “hypoxic zones” in the Gulf of Mexico created by heat and wreaking havoc on species and weather. One might find even more convincing evidence for this theory because Timothy Bottoms, who plays the bumbling mayor of the town, is more well known for his portrayal of President George W. Bush in not only one, but two movies (DC 9-11: Time of Crises and The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course). His accent and image is an unmistakable nod to G-dub. However, one would be foolish to come to this conclusion. This movie has nothing to do about politics. Locusts was about Red State/Blue State relations (see previous review). Vampire Bats, however, takes on something much more serious.

This movie is obviously about the flawed BCS ranking system. Here’s why. As many know, bats are a big part of Austin, TX. They fly in droves out from underneath some big bridge every night and fly down to Mexico, because, hey, cheap beer. However, the pro-USC Hollywood has been upset at the potential number one seed of Texas. Just think about it BCS is almost BATS. Vampire BCS…elbow nudge, huh huh!? Its an obvious connect. Furthermore, the setting in Louisiana reminds one of the USC-LSU-Oklahoma fiasco. In the vein of Pierre Bernard and his recliner of rage, "bottom line America: NCAA football needs a 16 team playoff structure to the post season instead of the vampire BCS!" All-in-all, this movie was pretty sweet, and I give it two 1970’s fan style thumbs down for being sweetly bad.