Teenage Space Vampires/Darkness: The Teen Space Vampire Saga (1999)

Bill, a dorky high school student and avid horror movie fan, witnesses a UFO flying over his town. When the ship lands the next day, Bill and a team from SETI discover that the alien is a strange vampire creature who wants to cast the Earth into darkness so that he and his people can colonize it for themselves.

REVIEW: I got anxious while waiting for Asylum's newest release, Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark, the third movie in the infamous Mega Shark series, to arrive in the mail so to help pass the time until then, I signed up for Full Moon Streaming - an online streaming service for the full catalog of Full Moon Entertainment movies, both old classics in addition to brand new stuff, and everything in between.

Now, I do plan to get back to my Puppet Master series rewatch here shortly, but I was really in the mood this evening for something I hadn't ever seen before, so I went to Full Moon's Moonbeam subsection (their side-company for 80's and 90's family friendly-aimed movies such as Prehysteria, Pet Shop, and the Josh Kirby: Time Warrior saga – none of which are actually up on the site yet, but were among my favorites of theirs while growing up) and came across a nifty-sounding little diddy that I had never even heard of before, the awesomely-titled Teenage Space Vampires, or the even cheesier (and obvious Twilight cash-grab) renaming it's been given in recent DVD re-releases, Darkness: The Teen Space Vampire Saga! I figured this would be the perfect kind of movie to watch for the first time and do a review on.

The first thing you have to realize, is that this is indeed a family-friendly 'horror' movie, so there's no swearing or gore of any kind, and there's no other kinds of questionable content in that regard, if you're a parent wondering if this movie is ok for your child to watch. With that said, there are indeed a few scenes that children might find a bit creepy or scary so you may want to watch it with them if they're sensitive to those kinds of things. For example, there's a scene that consist of the Turned football players and cheerleaders (among which are a couple of main characters) vamping out mid-game to cause a feeding frenzy and chow down on the other team and the spectators in the stands, or in one scene in particular that reminded me of The Lost Boys we have a group of teens around a campfire at night that get ambushed by a gang of the vampires. In addition to those, we also have a couple scenes that take place in dark underground mines that deal with a nest of vampires lurking in the shadows and led by the Master Vampire that looks far more monstrous than the rest of his minions, so as I said, if your child is sensitive to that kind of stuff, than maybe this isn't the movie for them after all, at least not without you watching it with them to remind them that it is just a movie.

However, in terms of the horror aspect, that's really all there is. Most of the vampire effects are extremely goofy-looking and made worse by the extremely-bad glowing CGI eyes and overly-large and overly-obvious fake rubber teeth. Honestly, everything from the special effects to some of the acting to the production values are all what you would expect from a mid-90s Direct-to-Video low budget children's movie. Actually, anybody that grew up with the Goosebumps TV show already knows what to expect from this in that regard as it pretty much plays out, complete with the all-around general cheesiness expected of such, of the average 22-minute Goosebumps episode, but spread out for feature-length.

Making the acting come across as even worse than it probably initially was, is some distractingly-bad ADR dubbing. It's not present in every scene, but the ones that it is, it really takes you out of the moment as it's delivered in such an incredibly dull and boring way, which is usually in complete contrast with how the character looks as they're saying it. That issue aside though, there is still some decent acting to be found, mostly via Robin Dunn (Species 3, The Skulls 2, Cruel Intentions 2) as the main character of the movie and the always-beautiful Lindy Booth (Wrong Turn, Dawn of the Dead remake, Kick Ass 2) as his older cheerleader sister. The one truly honest-to-god great actor though, that I actually always enjoyed when he was on-screen, was the mostly-unknown James Kee as the leader of the SETI team that comes out to investigate the mysterious going-ons in the town.

I suppose I should step back a bit and explain a little of the plot. The movie starts with a bang (literally) as Robin Dunn's character is woken up in the middle of the night by some mysterious explosion that also set off car alarms in the area and drives the dogs bonkers. Even though his character doesn't look or even really act like it during the movie, we're told he's a dweeb and dork that gets picked on a lot, which only intensifies when he comes across a spaceship in a neighbor's back property – a spaceship that is guarded by several stone gargoyles that seem to be alive (a totally pointless addition as they never even once do anything other than turn their heads to look around). Of course nobody believes him except his goofy best friend, and it isn't long until he starts noticing that his neighbors and classmates are all, one-by-one, starting to act strange and differently. That's when a research team from SETI arrives in town, having noticed the mysterious falling object and wanting to investigate it. They team up with Robin Dunn's character to get to the bottom of things and eventually discover that the town has been invaded and partly-taken over by vampires, which are actually an alien race. They're in this specific town to locate an ancient mystical amulet that when used in the proper ritual can harvest the energy from the sun and moon and plunge the entire Earth into a total never-ending darkness – a vampire's wet dream.

The plot of the movie actually isn't half-bad. At first it seemed a bit sloppily written, seeing as how we see plenty of vampires out during the day thus making the entire evil plan pointless, but they actually explain that away fairly well, as those are only vampire fledglings and aren’t yet full alien vampires, so they don't quite have all their strengths but also don't quite have all their weaknesses yet either. Where the movie kind of comes undone is the above-mentioned bad effects, terrible ADR dubbing, the unbelievability that the main character is a picked-on dweeb (seriously, the guy is taller and more buff than half the 'jocks' in the movie are) and just all around general cheap feel of everything (again, think a feature-length Goosebumps episode on the same budget of the average Goosebumps episode). Luckily the movie is saved a bit by decent to good acting from the core main characters (even if a lot of the dialog they have to work with is pretty terrible), a well-made monster suit for the Master Vampire, and a pretty fun overall plot. It also seems that director/writer Martin Wood has perfected his talents since his time doing this movie, seeing as how he has since gone on to be a main writer and director on such Canadian TV shows as Sanctuary, Andromeda, Primeval: New World, and the various Stargate shows.

Die-hard horror hounds and just adults in general may scoff at this one and roll their eyes during most of it, and I honestly can't blame them because there's not much in this one for that demographic, but for young boys and girls looking to dabble into some family-friendly horror, Teenage Space Vampires, aka Darkness: The Teen Space Vampire Saga is a pretty decent hour and a half, and it's low budget and cheesiness may also help lighten the mood for them a bit when it comes to the few darker, scarier scenes that some kids may find a little troubling.

5/10 rooms in the Psych Ward


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