One of the biggest recent disappointments in vampire cinema (at least for me) in recent years was the utterly unfunny Lesbian Vampire Killers (renamed simply Vampire Killers for the American DVD release). And I think the problem lies in one decision. Okay, that isn't quite true. Quite a few bad decisions ended up made, but let us begin at the beginning: The Title. Scuttlebutt tells that the writers were cooking up the most lurid movie title they could imagine. Having arrived at it, they then decided to write the script and see if it would sell. It did and the rest is infamy.
The title is certainly fun. What followed--the film itself--had precisely one virtue. Its cinematography. Gorgeous, simply lush in its gothic atmosphere and echo of all those lovely Hammer films. Kudos for that! Alas the rest of the movie sucked and not in a good way. I'm not going to go over the cringe-worthy details of ridiculous back story, lame characters, the humor that did the worst thing possible (i.e. not make me laugh). Rather let us approach a more fundamental issue--what does the title mean? Is it about people who go around killing lesbian vampires? Or about vampire killers who happen to be lesbian?
Alas, the movie went with option one. I would argue a better choice would have been option two. Much better.
Why? Because the second has more humor in it, as well as (this is crucial) better humor. When you start with the premise of lesbians that need killing, then it becomes nigh impossible not enter into misogyny. In effect one turns sexy women who don't need men into monsters who must be killed. The methods--penetration, burning or decapitation--only make this worse. Should you think this no objection, frankly I advise you read no further. Honestly.
Now consider the alternative. Presume the story deals with lesbians who are in the business of killing vampires. Now where lies the humor? In turning expectations on their head! Such was the whole hook upon which Buffy the Vampire Slayer hangs. The natural prey of all the monsters, from Freddy Kreuger to the Wolfman to your generic serial killer is in fact the one defending the rest of us. A blonde, even slightly ditzy cheerleader is empowered as the Slayer, the chosen one who defends humanity from things that go bump in the night! So it would be for a pair of lesbians fighting vampires--they become the polar opposite of Van Helsing and all his clones. Instead of women as weaklings needing rescue, they stand up for themselves and get rid of the pesky human leeches on their own! One can easily imagine scenes were old-school vampire hunters have trouble coming to grips with such a thing. Or male vampires baffled that all their saturnine charms leave these girls cold. And then a panicked response as the Count's up-till-now docile brides begin to stand up to him!
So imagine taking this idea further. For the record, one cannot legally copyright a title, so anyone who wants to do this most certainly can! For practical purposed they might want to come up with their own title, but still.
Imagine now the cast of such a film. Since this remains a thought experiment, in effect a fantasy, allow me to choose a fantasy casting session. We need a pair of lesbian vampire hunters. Just to further confound formula, let us also suppose they are friends only. Sure, maybe they flirt. But the assumption they must be romantic (or at least sexual) partners provides another source of humor! It is my fantasy so I'd cast two gifted actresses who can both do comedy very well: Felicia Day and Mercedes McNab.
The possibilities of this set-up abound:
- A secret society of male vampire hunters split into factions over our heroines' existence and their success.
- Some poor girl bitten by a vampire but saved by Felicia and Mercedes helps them out, finding a new strength in herself--to which her family and friends assume she's becoming gay.
- Male vampires go on the warpath against them, but are secretly thwarted by female vampires, tired of the old fashioned status quo.
- A female equivalent of Angel or Nick Knight or Barnabas Collins becomes their ally, becoming perhaps a love interest for one of them. Or not. Or maybe he's a gay male vampire who sympathizes.
- Some very religious group oppressed by the undead who think lesbians are worse than blood-drinking corpses.
I see a lot of possibilities here. Don't you? For the record I give absolute permission for anyone and everyone to use these ideas without granting any credit or payment to me.
What do you think of this idea?