The October Diaries: Rockula

Illustration by Max Brown
Blurbs by Sean & Christof

October 13th, 2015:

Year: 1990
Director: Luca Bercovici
Format: Amazon
From IMDB: A young vampire cannot lose his virginity because of a curse imposed upon him centuries ago.
Tagline: He’s a vampire who hasn’t scored in 400 years. Tonight’s the night!


Christof’s Take:

What I Liked:

Dean Cameron — Mr. Cameron is an object of pure reverence among the living room committee. An actor who stole our hearts and funny bones with his exemplary timing and commitment that is on display in the 1987 Carl Reiner film, Summer School. While Rockula is no Summer School, there is a heartier serving of Dean Cameron in this one, as he is the lead, playing a friendly virgin vampire who likes to rock.

Despite the many limitations of the movie, Cameron makes the most of it. Particularly memorable, were his dialogues with his reflection, because, well, let’s be honest: two Deans are better than one.

The opening credits cartoon is also quite fun! Yay! Any instance of cartoon credits is kind of a precious treasure to find. It is far better than the opening credit animation in Night of the Demons. And it’s up there with City Slickers, Weekend at Bernies II, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It has plenty of fun, cheesy Halloween-ish iconography, which tickles my nostalgia and honestly reconnects me to the spirit of the season in a deeper, more joyful way than a legitimate horror movie can.

What I Didn’t Like:

Whenever Dean Cameron isn’t on-screen.

Also, the musical numbers (which had some occasional charms) were numerous and near between. Among these ditties, the one entitled, “Rapula (He’s The DJ, I’m The Vampire)” was — for reasons you’ve already assumed — perhaps the most difficult to sit through.

Final Thoughts:

As stated earlier (and as the title may suggest), this is not a legitimate horror movie, but that’s not necessarily an insult. It is a parody with no specific target in mind. It is a Halloween decoration disguised as a narrative. It is an un-horror film. 

You can call it a horror movie in the sense that you can call a black-bean burger a burger; it’s not fooling anyone, but it’s not really trying too.


Sean’s Take:

What I liked:

We sought out this movie because of Dean Cameron’s involvement and we were rewarded for our efforts.

If you’re a film fan and you don’t know who Dean Cameron is, you should consider swallowing a bar of soap because your movie-going existence up until this exact moment of cinematic epiphany has been a profane one.

Better yet, skip the soap and just watch 1987’s Summer School. Cameron’s masterful take on the wise-ass no-goodnik teen archetype will give you sufficient evidence as to why he’s so special to a certain demographic of fandom.

He’s an intelligent actor who somehow makes you feel like he’s deeper/sharper than the material he appears in. Whether he plays a remedial English student (Summer School) or a mental patient (as he does in 1988’s excellent and very underrated Bad Dreams) his comic timing and easy chemistry with his co-stars (always seeming to appear in a film’s best scenes) makes his presence feel assured and in touch with both the material and the audience’s potential reaction to the material. This ability of his is precisely what makes Rockula watchable for me (and it certainly wouldn’t be watchable to everyone).

The premise of a vampire comedically coping with centuries-long sexual frustration via a healthy outlet of vamp-rock is the kind of low-concept goof-ballery that would flail under the weight of its crude sex jokes if Cameron wasn’t able to imbue these jokes with a healthy dash of self-reflexive mockery. I might have been reading into that too deep, but the fact that Cameron makes me want to read deeply into Rockula should also serve as a testament to his abilities.

Speaking of self-reflexivity, Cameron’s interaction with his reflection in the mirror — and sole confidant — provides some of the best laughs. It should’ve been easy to guess, given his track record, but he even manages to brings out the best in Dean Cameron (acting opposite Dean Cameron).


What I didn’t like:

Rockula performs a number of musical numbers throughout the movie and each of these, while pretty entertaining, felt like the roughest moments of the film. When he temporarily ditches the Rockula moniker and becomes — gulp (smirk) — RAPULA, the musical numbers really nosedive into the deep end of the cringe pool (but one can’t imagine any comedy rap from the 90’s aging very well under the scrutiny of contemporary eyes).

I’ll never be in the mood to nitpick a movie called Rockula, so I’ll stop there.


Final thoughts:

It’s a real shame ten year-old Sean didn’t get a chance to catch this one. I’d like to hold my parents responsible (and maybe society too?) for not introducing a horror child like me to a movie called Rockula, but if it didn’t play on a free HBO weekend then I can’t really blame them.

Thirty-two year-old Sean thought it was fun but ten year-old Sean would have flipped his shit.

If anyone has a copy of Dean Cameron’s Ski School (also from 1990) on VHS let me know. I’ll pay top dollar, maybe even two.



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