Director: Justin Timpane
Let me preface this review by saying that movies like Ninjas vs. Vampires are hardest for me to to review. For one, they're low-budget, independent features, so these films become saddled with technical and budgetary restrictions that prevent the movies from being their best. At the same time, films like Ninjas vs. Vampires are clearly made by people like me and for people like me: fans of popular culture and genre film. Ninjas vs. Vampires, for example, is rife with references to other comic books, horror films, and comedies that I love. These filmmakers are people after my own heart and sensibilities, so I want to like them and their films. With this in mind, the temptation is to overlook the film's technical and budgetary problems. I'm not going to do that, however. That would be dishonest. Therefore, I'm sad to report that despite its potential, Ninjas vs. Vampires is a boring and relatively forgettable mash-up of the horror-action-kungfu-comedy-fantasty genres with lackluster effects.
Ninjas vs. Vampires is the sequel to Ninjas vs. Zombies, in which some friends are magically turned into Ninjas so that they can fight some evil soul-eating ghouls. Now, in Ninjas vs. Vampires, these magically-powered Ninjas -- along with a Witch and a Vampire-turned-good -- must tackle a group of evil bloodsuckers hell-bent on...well...becoming invincible or something. At every turn, the film distracts you from the plot with a large cast of characters that are poorly defined. We start with Aaron (Jay Saunders) and Alex (Devon Marie Burt), two friends who are attacked by vampires and saved by the Ninja super team consisting of Kyle (Daniel Ross), Cole (Cory Okouchi), Lily the vamp (Carla Okouchi), and Ann the witch (Melissa McConnell). After Ann wipes Alex's memory so she'll forget the incident, Aaron tracks down the Ninjas to find out what's going on. On the side of the villains, a needlessly large cast of vampires led by the PAINFULLY stale and uncharismatic Seth (Kurt Skarstedt) employ a growing roster of other eccentric-looking vamps to help kill the Ninjas. These weirdo vamps are all trying to be this movie's Boba Fett and include Manson (Daniel Mascarello), a sadistic psychopath bound in leather and chains; Maximillian (Will Stendeback) and Manguy (Dan Guy), who dress like they raided a costume store; and The Bishop (P.J. Megaw), a masked vampire and unintelligible leader of the identically-masked acolytes.
|MANSON WAS HERE|
Rating: 2 / 5 Bad Day-for-Night Scenes
IS IT SILLY?
|This vampire gets a poster but two minutes of screen time|
|Nothing in the movie looks as cool as this publicity still|
|Characters are difficult to invest in when they can't remember anything|
All in all, Ninjas vs. Vampires is a disappointment. I empathize with the writer/director and the rest of the crew. The deck was stacked against them from the start; nevertheless, technical issues, low-budget effects, and stale casting and dialogue prevent Ninjas vs. Vampires from being the sort of comic book-inspired action and comedy film it wants to be.
I appreciate Ninjas vs. Vampires for what it wants to be, but I can only judge it on what it is. And it's neither a satisfying nor very interesting movie.