Rockula

Rockula. Cannon Films 1990

Before watching the movie:

I just learned that Dean Cameron is not Dean Cain or Kirk Cameron, so I don’t have as much to say as I thought. Dean Cameron doesn’t seem to have achieved the celebrity status as the others, and appears to be what’s called a “working actor”, despite having led a feature film of moderate success as a young man.

Anyway, he plays a young man cursed to watch his one true love die and be reincarnated and die over and over, and this time his chance to break the cycle involves becoming a rock star.

After watching the movie:

Ralph Lavie is a 400-year old vampire who still lives with his mother. He met Mona, the love of his life 308 years ago, and has been cursed to watch her be murdered with a hambone by a jealous pirate ex-boyfriend every 22 years before being reborn. This time around, he’s weary of the cycle and wants to stay at home and forget about it, but they inevitably meet again and he finds himself deciding to save her. This version of Mona is a local rock singer, and in order to get close to her, Ralph has his friends form a band called Rockula, whose schtick is that they play songs about how Ralph is a vampire. As Ralph and Mona fall in love, Mona’s jealous manager ex-boyfriend is told by his psychic that if he kills her, she’ll be his forever.

The musical numbers are very diverse in type and quality. There are montages set to original songs by nobody in particular, stage performances including an embarrassingly silly rap that rhymes “vampire” with “William Safire”, and a really quite good sequence where Ralph and Mona start singing a love duet as they realize they’re in love with each other that starts like any traditional musical number, but then things get weird because it was being played too straight.

Maybe it’s because the scope of the movie is too small to accommodate it, but the way the backstory is related is exactly the wrong way to do it. Ralph sits in his regular bar, telling his friends the story he’s been telling them for centuries, and aside from some nightmare sequences that include small, stylized flashbacks, we only see mopey Ralph talking about what’s happened to him. It would have been more effective to have begun with a short scene of the first murder that tells a lot of the story very economically and then cut to today and establish that was 13 deaths ago. It would be even better to have a montage of deaths through the ages, but even just one would be much better than just seeing Ralph tell his friends a story they’ve heard several times before for our benefit.

Most of the summaries I’ve seen focus on how Ralph hasn’t been able to lose his virginity, if not using a double entendre for biting his first neck. Those seem to be written by Ralph’s reflection, who is a separate character Ralph can talk things over with as a part of the curse somehow, and the most lurid character in the movie. The rest of the movie’s tone isn’t nearly as raunchy as the synopses that I almost shelved this movie over suggest.

This movie would rather spend its runtime on cringeworthy musical sequences than laying its expository pipe well, but it’s mostly a sweet and goofy movie about a failure of a vampire finally coming of age in his fourth century and fighting the curse that’s kept him from his soulmate. If the quality was more consistent, it could be a truly great little cult film.

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