Reviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 06/24/06 18:45:41

"Further proof that Michael Ironside will star in anything."
2 stars (Pretty Crappy)

What began life as “Bloodsuckers,” a dopey, ridiculous, low-grade sci-fi/horror B combo flick that debuted last year on the dreaded Sci-Fi Channel, has now been reborn under the deliriously clunky video title “Vampire Wars: Battle For the Universe,” although all the dopey, ridiculous, low-grade sci-fi and horror remain intact, as does the embarrassing supporting appearances from Michael Ironside and Michael DeLuise.(Whether the appearances are embarrassing for Ironside and DeLuise or for us is for you to determine.)

Whatever the title, the movie, written and directed by up-and-coming schlockmeister Matthew Hastings (“Decoys,” “Engaged To Kill”), is determined to be a kooky blend of “Firefly,” “Aliens,” and “John Carpenter’s Vampires,” although its low budget keeps it from hitting the heights it’s reaching, while its sloppy, uninspired screenplay keeps it from being much fun.

It starts out surprisingly enjoyable, as we follow the adventures of a “V-San” (“Vampire Sanitation”) unit on patrol in the furthest reaches of the galaxy, strange alien lands that just so happen to look an awful lot like British Columbia. It’s the year 2210, and outer space is crawling with all sorts of vampires - a variety of subspecies that need to be killed in a variety of ways before they overtake you with their variety of vampire powers. Our rugged V-San crew, which includes a handsome captain (Joe Lando), a gruff rookie lieutenant (Elias Toufexis), a sexy half-woman/half-vampire (Natassia Malthe), a butch lesbian (Leanne Adachi), and some guy in a cowboy hat (Aaron Pearl), because apparently you have to have a guy in a cowboy hat, right? These guys wander around the outskirts of Vancouver, shouting macho Space Marine-isms like “Knock ’em, sock ’em, bring ’em to the ground and spike ’em!” before heading off to knocking, socking, and spiking grounded space vampires.

It is, strange as it may seem, an awful lot of silly fun, what with the crazy action and the lighthearted banter and the ample amounts of rock (both bluesy decent and Nickelback-level sucky) and the realization by everyone involved that it’s all too goofy to try to take seriously. Heroes and bad guys are both deliciously overplayed without being so tongue-in-cheek that comedy gets in the way, while the action is brisk enough and bloody enough to satisfy fans of such high-concept, low-rent productions. (Fans, by the way, will be pleased to hear words like “Vorhees” and “Leatherface” used to describe subspecies of vamps, making the whole movie one long in-joke.)

And then Hastings loses his footing, in a big way. This previously fairly simple B movie quickly balloons out of his control, as we’re introduced to a weak subplot about a band of human rebels who want to team up with vampires to overthrow humanity. This story remains too underdeveloped, coming and going with no real rhythm, bringing with them some horrible dialogue, plot turns, and, yes, Michael Ironside and Michael DeLuise, both in full-on space vampire make-up. All of this gets awkwardly intertwined with bits about vampire mind-sex, conflict among the crew, and a key plot point involving the interrogation of what can only be described as a vampire slug Muppet.

It’s all too much for this little film, and the overload leads Hastings to not get anything in the film’s second half right. The dialogue is less snappy, the mood is less bouncy, the action is less thrilling. What begins as a big pile of dumb fun winds up a weary mess, and unless you really, really can’t wait to see Michael Ironside with pointy ears, there’s simply no reason to keep watching once all the fun parts disappear.

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