by Jason Coffman
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As the Gay Horror movement continues to gain steam, it would seem inevitable that it should collide head-on with vampires, the current supernatural pop culture phenomenon of the moment. Director Charlie Vaughn’s Vampire Boys is hitting at a good time, and it would seem like a no-brainer for a fun, sexy new take on every Supernatural Young Adult Fiction reader’s favorite monster. It’s not hard to imagine the pitch meeting: “Vampires, but… gay!” And then everyone pats each other on the back and nods and decides that the movie needs to be out on shelves as soon as possible.
Caleb (Christian Ferrer) has just moved to Los Angeles to go to college and get away from his small-town past. He moves in with Paul (Ryan Adames), who obviously has more than friendly feelings toward Caleb. Caleb’s got another guy on his mind, though— a mysterious stranger who appears in his dreams and appears to him in class one day. This is Jasin (Jason Lockhart), leader of a small brood of what appear to be vampire male models who mostly just hang out shirtless all the time. Jasin is being pressured by his brood to choose a mortal to become “The One,” a somewhat ill-defined position that must be filled in order for the brood to continue living forever. Vampire groupie Tara (Zasu) is the current front runner for the position, but Jasin begins to think that perhaps Caleb would be a more suitable companion.
Vampire Boys seems to be setting up a conflict between a traditionally heterosexual vampire culture butting heads with Jasin’s choice of a male “One,” but in a flashback to Jasin’s origin story we learn he was previously the “One” of another male vampire. The film’s vampire mythology seems confused at best and totally improvised at worst— for example, when given the choice of becoming a vampire or not, Caleb is assured by Jasin that if he’s not up for it, then Tara can be “The One” and everything will be fine. If that’s the case, it suddenly doesn’t make sense why the other vampires care at all who it is Jasin chooses to join their pack.
Sloppy mythology, however, may be the least of Vampire Boys problems. Despite the near-constant presence of shirtless guys and a few brief makeout scenes, the film is surprisingly light on sex. There’s one scene with a fleeting glimpse of full-frontal male nudity that is interrupted by the only bloody vampire scene in the whole film. There’s not enough horror here for horror fans, and not enough sex appeal for anyone looking for an erotic homosexual take on vampires. What the film lacks in these departments, it makes up for in dialogue. The phrase “less talk, more action” kept coming to mind as the characters droned on and on at each other.
At a quick 70 minutes, Vampire Boys at least knows well enough to stay out of its own way. It has the distinct feeling of a very rushed production and a miniscule budget, but director Vaughn clearly knows how to put that limited budget to work. The best gay horror films have proven that when done correctly, changing up the sexuality of the characters can make a genre film feel completely fresh, even with the most tired off-the-shelf parts. Vampire Boys doesn’t come close to reaching those heights, but it’s a start. Maybe Vampire Boys 2 will be the gay vampire film we’ve been waiting for, but until then there are worse ways to spend 70 minutes than with Vampire Boys.
Ariztical Entertainment will release Vampire Boys on DVD 8 March 2011. For more information and trailers for Vampire Boys and other Ariztical Entertainment films, visit the Ariztical site.
Jason Coffman is a film writer living in Chicago. He writes reviews for Film Monthly and “The Crown International Files” for Criticplanet.org.
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