Hello, Spongey here.
Welcome boils and ghouls to this years big Halloween review! Gotta admit, I almost had a hard time with picking one this year. I was like man what will I do. In hindsight, I could have saved that Shadow Zone movie for this month but eh, it’s too middling for that.
Then I recalled Tubi, that free streaming site I’ve watched such classics as Isle of Dogs and Dirty Love on. I went there and one of the first spooky family titles to pop up was this and boy did it look fitting. I watched it and here we are.
This is a direct to video movie from 2012 that is one of many of its kind that gets pumped out each year. There’ not much notable about it in terms of production as it was made by a no name company by no name people. The writer has done nothing else and the director went on to do the classic sounding Step Dogs.
However, he’s more well known as a visual effects producer on surprisingly big movies like The Meg Detective Pikachu and most recently Bloodshot. Huh. At least he found a good calling. But he was also one on some Buddies movies so it evens out.
The most notable thing about it is that it stars Norm McDonald. Yeah, there was a period where he slummed it in bad family movies and this is one of them. That said, how crappy is this one? Does it even have any bark or bite? Let’s see.
This, is Vampire Dog
So first off, this was made by Joker films which is fitting with how messy the product is. The movie properly starts in Transylvania as a “Hearty Woman” (the credits words not mine) is mildly annoyed by a dog with fangs. There actually is an attempt to build some suspense as we cut to some guy named Sylvester so we don’t start out too bad. Don’t worry, it won’t take long to go downhill.
It turns out Sly is the dog’s owner, and he informs the dog that he won’t always be around to look out for him.And then…I think he dies? We pan to some old family pictures I think and then it cuts back to him as his eyes are closed and the dog is sad.
I’m already confused. I guess he was already dying but it’s so weirdly executed. I feel like something like this shouldn’t be so casual. So anyway we cut back to America in the town of Lugosi County (haw) as meet our lead Ace, a boy moving into a new house with his mother.
His acting is not very good. Not awful I suppose but he’s directed to be kind of unenthusiastic with every line he says and he’s just a bit stilted. He likes to play the drums but he can’t play in front of people. Also, his mom is the music teacher and they want to save the arts program.
As cliche as that is, it’s telling how many family movies feel the need to do it with how bad the education system is but I digress. The next morning at school they meet a girl named Skylar, who is played by the only other actor I know. …She was in a couple Haunting Hour episodes, most notably the friend in Headshot.
She will play the role of the friend who clearly likes Ace but is shy about it. They go to music class where the kids there are not good, so much so that the principal calls them awful.
“I see real potential in this class”
“You are probably the only one”
As you can see, he is on track to win a principal of the year award.
Upon hearing Ace is a drummer, the principal has him show off his skills which goes as well as you’d expect. It ends in the principal getting hit in the crotch. Wow, we’re not even 10 minutes in, they got creatively bankrupt fast!
At lunch, we see that the Skylar hangs with a trio of Alpha Bitches…for some reason. It’s very clear that she is a geek (she wears glasses, that’s how you know) and they even catch her studying and don’t approve. So why do you let her hang around you?
The dialogue is very natural and in tune with the youth of 2012.
Ace become a laughing stock at school and even spawns a viral video that get remixed. I feel like this is a bit much. Don’t worry, his mom consoles him.
“The bright side is, you’re a hit! Look, over 30,000 views”
You are not a very good parent.
“Next time, try not to get so nervous”
I get what you’re saying but come on, the kids still shouldn’t be so awful.
They get a letter informing them that Ace’s grandfather has died and that grandfather happens to be Sylvester.
“Oh gee that’s too bad I never got to meet him”
If you think that line was weak, just listen to how he says it. It feels very natural.
They are being sent that dog, named Fang since he has nowhere else to go. We then meet our villain Dr. Warhol (okay that one’s more subtle at least and obscure since the connection is Andy Warhold did some Batman Dracula movie in 1964. Not to be confused with the Filipino one or the animated one) as she is some kind of scientist testing out anti aging creaming.
She has an assistant named Frank and she claims his youth has been ruined by “Hard living”, which she says while doing a drinking motion. Perfect Family Entertainment! After a failed attempt to make some, they randomly watch a video of that woman talking about the vampire dog.
They’ve heard the legends so they want to somehow use the dog’s immortality to make their cream. This is a very odd but amusing villain motivation. Speaking of amusing, she is easily the best part of the movie as her actress does make her kind of fun. There’s even a funny moment where she says they gotta make a bunch of cream “or else” and Frank questions or else what.
Back with Ace, he is disappointed that Fang doesn’t do much.
“He’s got a lot of personality”
At least you have something in common.
“He’s an old dog, he doesn’t have a lot of time left”
Screw you too kid. Then the dog farts. Because of course he does.
The villains show up outside as Frank amazingly managed to find out that the dog is here. For a dumb assistant, he sure can work fast when the script calls for it.
“I”m not 100 percent sure but then again who is 100 percent sure?”
This movie asks the real questions,
They peak in through the window to spot Fang but the dog teleports away so they just leave. The next day at school, the principal announces that the school will be closing at the end of the year. He doesn’t seem too worried about being out of a job. Thankfully mom says that if they win a battle of the bands they will be declared a charter school and it will stay open.
At home, Norm finally speaks. It only took them like 25 minutes to get to the talking dog. He speaks to Ace and asks for some red jelly as he doesn’t like blood that much. Ace actually has the right reaction to an extent, as he faints. Eventually he wakes up.
“How can you talk?”
“Well, I exhale, breath through the mouth and presto, words come out!”
That’s kinda funny I guess.
Ace gets over it fairly quickly as they go for a walk, in the shade of course and Fang explains that he is indeed a vampire. There is another good joke where they do that thing where someone is telling a story and we only hear parts of it and there’s some funny out of context bits.
Don’t worry, there’s a joke about Fang’s poop bag to make up for it.
That night, the bad guys try again but Fang is there to stop Frank through some wacky stuff. Then he pees some of the equipment in the back of their van just to finish off the gross out joke every bad kids movie has quota.
Then we see Ace having a dream where he acts like an ape in front of Skylar. Because reasons. The next morning Fang wants Ace to sneak him into school so he can get some red jelly. You just could have Ace get it while you stay but then we wouldn’t get into wacky antics. Ace does so and then runs into the Alpha Bitches.
“Unlike you, we don’t feeb out in front of people”
Also, Fang is rambling about nothing in Ace’s locker and somehow they can’t hear it. The plots finally start to converge as Dr. Warhol shows up telling him about her proposal to replace the school with her beauty company, hence the school shutting down soon. She bribes him with money and he accepts because he truly is the worst.
She is worried about the whole charter school thing but the principal says she has nothing to worry about. Oh and not to get horny on main she she’s pretty hot. Just saying.
Ace and Skylar start hanging out more which her “friends” will not put up with. If she’s willing to be with him to begin with, she’s a lost cause and you should just drop her, seriously. Fang is in Ace’s locker but he’s so thirsty for that jelly that he breaks out and run around the cafeteria looking for some.
It kind of makes him a dick but it embarrasses the alpha bitches so it is a draw. Fang gets his fix and runs to Ace who is a non-reaction to hearing about this. Like, it’s not even the acting, the script just makes him go “Oh”.
After school, Skylar talks to Ace and hears Fang talking inside his backpack and soon the truth comes out. She somehow thinks it’s a trick even when the dog talks in person but Ace convinces her and tells her what is going on. Meanwhile the villains figured out the jelly thing and try to buy out all of it so he can’t have any. Starving a vampire dog, now that is evil.
Fang finally explains his backstory: 500 years ago Ace’s ancestors launched a rebellion against Vlad the Imapler, who was a vampire. Sure why not. Vlad tries to bite Fang’s owner so he jumped in and got bit, thus making him a werewolf cat. Wait…
The owner went on to commit vampire genocide and vowed to have his descendants take care of Fang. Honestly this backstory is more interesting than the actual story we’re watching. Speaking of that, that night we find out Ace’s dad is dead because of course he is. It was implied but not stated until now.
It’s a good time to mention that the sappy music is rather overbearing. The next day…
“Can you drool, Fang?”
“For you Skylar, anything”
Actually, she just needs it as a sample to make some stuff to fix his sun problem. In the meantime, he has a jacket thing and they strut along to a discount Stayin’ Alive. …Are we done yet? Fang sneaks into the school kitchen and overhears the lunch ladies talking about the jelly shortage.
“What’s next, the apocalypse”
Eh, give it a few years.
The villain’s showed up and Frank follows Fang which leads to wacky antics. Whatever, the balancing between these plots is pretty poor, they may as well be separate movies most of the time. Why does he never tell Ace about these guys?
Ace decides to ask Skylar out but the bitches are there so she is forced to say no. On one hand I get but on the other hand I don’t care enough to get it. Sometime later, Ace tries to find some jelly and Fang starts to sniff some out, ending up in a room where the villains are doing things.
You seriously have the jelly somewhere in the school where you know the dog is after that little escapade?
Some janitor takes Fang and plans to take him to the pound, even with Ace and Dr. Warhol claiming it is theirs. Ace’s mother comes in to see this and scolds him for bringing Fang to school.Also the mom says “Sorry” in the most Canadian way possible. I understand her being upset since she can’t know the truth but she seems to be fine with Fang going to the pound, which is harsh.
Although a bit later she says they will pick hm up tomorrow since has too much work today, which is fair enough. This is what causes Skylar to leave the Alpha Bitch group. A bit of a random point to do so but sure. Ace is of course grounded for all this, that means no Battle of the Bands. That’s fair.
“After what you pulled, I can’t show up with you”
…That is less fair, yeesh. She does clarify he isn’t an embarrassment but that is some bad wording.
Later, Skylar visits Ace has she found a way for Fang to walk in the sun. Basically, she will uses science stuff as it’s sort of like a skin condition. Or something. The next morning Mom does not make good on her promise so Fang calls up the house from the shelter cause he broke out of the cage. Yet he couldn’t break out of the place itself.
The villains show up at the pound to get Fang but he manages to hypnotize them. Yeah, he can do that. Yes, there are tons of other times where he could have done this. Ace and Skylar pick him up then head to the Battle of the Bands, and the villains follow up once they snap out of it.
“We must find those kids, and their little dog too!”
“You sound like that old witch”
“Which old witch?”
“The wicked witch”
“Oh shut up”
Okay, that started funny, got annoying, and went back to funny again.
There’s some antics too dull to recap and then the principal announces during the Alpha Bitch Gang’s performance that they are cheating. See, their drummer is the principal’s nephew who he tasked with making sure the school loses. It was a thing but it has mattered so little that I haven’t mentioned it until now.
That band is kicked out but they can continue if someone replaces the drummer so it’s Ace’s time to shine. Despite some push-back from the bitches, they are cool with this. As for Ace’s stage fright, he magically gets over it after being told to have confidence. Yep, that’s totally how it works.
As for the villains, they plan to just leave and grab the dog but they are stopped by security as they got calls about creepy weirdos chasing some kids, nice.
“Oh I just want this nightmare to be over”
Finally someone I can relate to.
With that weak defeat out of the way, the school wins and now it is saved. Mom is a bit upset that Ace snuck out but otherwise they are all cool. Also the principal is fired. So the kids head to the park where Skylar gives Fang some science-y cream that curses his aversion to the sun, woo hoo.
How was that given more time than Ace’s stage fright?
“It’s good to be a vampire dog”
There’s a cut to Ace playing drums happily in music class with Fang there as well. Then it ends. Good. Don’t even have a quip, I’m just glad it’s over.There are bloopers in the credits that are somehow more fun than what made it in.
This was pretty bleh. It’s not quite the worst of these talking animal movies but that’s because I’ve seen too many at this point. The villains are pretty fun at times, there are a couple amusing moments from Fang and aside from Ace, most of the actors are fine for what they are given.
Yet at the same time it’s not as ironically enjoyable as some of these can be. There is some of that from the villain but otherwise it’s just boring and sloppy. The story is an absolute mess, with plot points just coming and going at random like the thing with the principal’s nephew.
The most egregious example to me is how Ace’s stage fright is a notable thing early but gets pushed to the side and hastily resolved. It should have a big thing, with maybe Fang teaching some tricks to build up confidence. I mean Fang gets some help with his sun thing, but he doesn’t exactly give much in return. Doing what I suggested at least would have made things more complete.
As it is, the stuff with Ace feels weak as not much happens and they aren’t even aware of the villains for most of it. The plots attempt to be connected but are mostly not connected very well, giving the script a general sense of being poorly thought out.
As a viewing experience, it wasn’t awful. It was more eye roll worthy than groan worthy. Plenty of dumb jokes but it’s not one I hated watching. I just found it dumb and sloppy. As as a whole, it’s not the worst but it is quite poor. It’s slightly more fun than the pup star ones but a bit sloppier.
Speaking of, when is Robert Vince coming back? He actually had a show called Pup Academy last year but we need another cinematic classic, dang it.
So yeah, not horrible but it still bites. Pun intended. I’ll give it this: It’s the only 2010’s vampire thing WITHOUT a single Twilight reference, that’s impressive.
Not the spookiest pick but it gave me much more to work with than usual for these so I’m happy. As for next time….eh, let’s do Gremlins 2.
Have a happy (and safe, especially this year) Halloween!