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Vampires Suck and the Moviepocalypse

September 1, 2010

Orson Zeus!I’ve lived all over the world. I like to think I make friends easily. I know a lot of people. All races, creeds, and nationalities. But I don’t know anyone who actually paid money to see Vampires Suck.

Vampires Suck, a spoof of the Twilight sparkly-vampire movies, was foisted upon us by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the same two chuckleheads responsible for writing and/or directing the [Something] Movie movies (Date Movie, Scary Movie, etc.) as well as Meet the Spartans and, oddly, 1996’s post-Naked Gun Leslie Nielsen vehicle Spy Hard.* Until Vampires Suck, the only exception to the [Something] Movie titling rule was 2008’s Meet the Spartans (whose working title was reportedly Epic Movie 2: Meet the Spartans.) It goes without saying that these two hack douchenozzles don’t have a single original idea between them. Their entire careers are comprised of half-baked** spoofs of Hollywood blockbusters. Sometimes, when Friedberg and Seltzer can’t actually come up with enough “jokes” on a particular topic to fill a feature film, they combine movie tropes into a loose bowel movement of mismatched scenes with barely the thinnest wisp of plot to tie it all together. Such is the case with Epic Movie and Disaster Movie, whose “premises” you can probably deduce from their titles alone. Invariably, these movies barely qualify as feature-length. In the past decade, Hollywood movies have averaged around the 120-minute mark; Friedberg & Seltzer productions have yet to crack 90. To be fair, coming up with a whole hour-and-a-half of fart jokes and lame pop-culture references is, like, hard man.

We’ll take a moment here to provide an example from Meet the Spartans of the kind of humor one can find in these paragons of comedy filmmaking. As one might guess, the movie is a spoof of 300, Zack Snyder’s note-perfect 2006 adaptation of the Frank Miller graphic novel. The original film includes a scene with Ephialtes, a misshapen hunchback, who offers to show the Spartans’ King Leonidas an alternate route through the mountains in exchange for the chance to fight as a Spartan warrior.***

In Meet the Spartans, the hunchback is Paris Hilton.

Oh, not actually Paris Hilton, mind you . . . but some other actress whose resemblance to Paris Hilton is so negligible that Leonidas must exclaim “Paris Hilton! What are YOU doing here?” to inform the audience that this is supposed to be Paris Hilton and isn’t that hilarious?! Paris Hilton! That’s comedy gold right there! In fact, the cast list for Meet the Spartans includes juicy roles such as “Dane Cook Look-a-Like,” “Paula Abdul Look-a-Like,” “Britney Spears Look-a-Like,” and “Ellen DeGeneres Look-a-Like.” (The latter three all played by the same actress who lends her considerable talent to “Hunchback Paris.” You’re gonna go far, kid.) Furthermore, in this scene, Leonidas admonishes his captain to “slow your roll.” Because Spartan kings spewing modern urban slang is nothing if not side-splittingly funny. Also, Paris Hilton’s ringtone is “The Humpty Dance.” Yeah . . . quality humor from two masters of the art.

Friedberg and Seltzer occasionally manage to get actual Hollywood names into their pictures, though these names are often C-list or worse: Carmen Electra, Kevin Sorbo, the fat guy from Borat. Even the generally reliable Diedrich Bader (Napoleon Dynamite, Office Space) and Ken Jeong (The Hangover, Knocked Up, Community) are in Vampires Suck. A stint on MADtv is apparently the unifying resume bullet-point for most of the actors in these movies.

Here’s the real problem. Friedberg and Seltzer make these movies on the cheap. I mean, really cheap (by Hollywood standards.) Their production budgets average about $30-million per movie (though inexplicably as high as $45-million for a couple of the Scary Movie sequels.) Their box-office take is all over the map, from $34-million for Disaster Movie to $278-million for Scary Movie. (Meet the Spartans‘ Hunchback Hilton took in $84-million.) Hell, Vampires Suck cost $20-million to make and in its first weekend has already snorted up 29-million American moviegoer dollars like Brian Dennehy at a Robert Evans party. And it wasn’t even screened for critics before opening day, which indicates that there are people who are willing to pay for this kind of entertainment no-questions-asked. Amusingly, Vampires Suck enjoyed a 0.0% rating from Rotten Tomatoes for several days after its release until some hapless reviewer had the temerity to give it a positive rating. Oh the Internets were angry that day my friends!

The point is they always make money. A $30-million average budget yielding a $138-million average gross is a 450% return on a studio’s investment. Money, evidently, talks. A $93-million box-office gross on a $20-million budget is more than enough to green-light, say, a Deuce Bigalow sequel.**** But where does this money come from? Somebody is seeing these movies. Here’s where we drop some Brown Tweed Math©®™ on yo ass. A totally unscientific Google search reveals that the average American knows about 250 people. Based on an average ticket price of $7.50, over 4-million Americans have paid to see Vampires Suck so far. The math works out to about 1 in 75 people has seen this latest Friedberg/Seltzer opus. Therefore, at least 3 people in your circle of friends and acquaintances are contributing to our advancement toward the Moviepocalypse, that Day of Reckoning when the seas will run red with corn syrup and food coloring and the Great Lord Orson will ride from on high upon a magnificent chariot fueled by Cohibas and brandy to smite the unwashed and unappreciative masses with his mighty Clapperboard of Doom.

So, what you need to do is find those three people and stab them in the neck.


* Complete with theme song by “Weird Al” Yankovic!

** No, not the movie Half Baked which was, in fact, actually funny.

*** Leonidas, though touched by Ephialtes’ offer, rejects him not out of scorn for his deformity, but out of a practical concern that his inability to hold a shield compromises his effectiveness in battle. It is a rather poignant scene. Rejected and vengeful, Ephialtes throws himself off a cliff but survives and later betrays Leonidas to the invading Persian emperor Xerxes. My nerd-fu is strong.

**** Yes, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo made $93-million. Ninety-three muh-HILLION dollars. Box office gross indeed.

One Comment
  1. Sean Gilroy permalink
    September 1, 2010 6:56 pm

    Well said, my friend.

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