Written and Directed by: : Justin Timpane
Starring: Jay Saunders, Daniel Ross, and Cory Okouchi
Reviewed by: Brett G.
“The sun comes up in ten hours, and all hell commences breaking loose. So we’re gonna have to do Ninjas for Dummies.”
Somewhere along the way, ninjas became the undisputed champion of the world. For a while, the seemingly random “ninjas vs. pirates” meme was all the rage, and even zombies got a shot at the belt. Now, it’s time for vampires to get in the ring in the obviously-titled Ninjas vs. Vampires. It’s actually coming from the same guy who brought you the Ninjas vs. Zombies mash-up; you might remember that Timpane came up with that movie after scouring his local Blockbuster and deciding that it was something that hadn't been done before. I guess he realized that there were plenty of other goofy match-ups out there yet to be committed to celluloid too, but I'm not complaining.
Aaron (Jay Saunders) is in the worst possible place in his relationship with Alex (Devon Marie Burt): the friend zone. He’s practically in doe-eyed love with her; she doesn’t feel the same way. When he finally makes his feelings known, she not only shoots him down, but they’re both ambushed by a bunch of vampires. Thankfully, ninjas appear out of nowhere to save them; Aaron is confused and wants answers, so he checks out the local comic book store (where else?), and asks Cole (Cory Okouchi) what’s going on. He plays dumb, but he of course belongs to the clan of ninjas that’s been feuding with the vampires. The rivalry is about to come to a head because the vampires are plotting to launch a war against humanity.
Ninjas vs. Vampires is a flick that’s extremely interested in its title’s premise; the whole thing exists to give you a heavy dose of ninja on vampire action. It moves relatively quickly as it shuttles you along to the various action sequences. These are fun, if not as satisfyingly splatterific as Timpane’s work on Ninjas vs. Zombies; here, so many of the effects are reliant on some low-budget CGI. As long as the vampires are doing the slaying, everything is nice and gooey, as blood sprays everywhere; however, when they’re getting staked, they burst into some pretty cheap looking flames that might take you out of the experience a bit. But considering the obviously limited resources, the action sequences are otherwise entertaining; there’s plenty of variety too, as there’s a vampire battle royal and a ninja training sequence that’s appropriately silly.
When the film settles down, the results are mixed. The vampires themselves feel like a bunch of Blade rejects and don’t really bring a whole lot to the table; one of them (the uber-badass of the pack) is made up like the gimp from Pulp Fiction, so there’s that. Their stealthy nemeses are a more fun bunch to hang around with; most of them are carryovers from the Timpane’s previous film, so there’s a bit of familiarity there. I especially like Okouchi as Cole, who is like a cool Zen master who is pretty much unfazed by the bizarre events in his life. Kyle (Daniel Ross) is his wise-cracking sidekick who has as many quips loaded as he does bullets; most of the dialogue between these guys is typical nerd fare. They’re really self-aware and witty, always ready to make references to stuff like Star Wars (there's also plenty of nods to horror stuff like Poltergeist and Carrie). These guys are like something out of a low-rent Buffy, and I think even they’d agree with that.
Then there’s the romantic leads, Aaron and Alex. They’re serviceable enough--Aaron kind of perfectly captures every poor, pathetic bastard who has ever pined for his female best friend. Devon Marie Burt is really kind of charming as Alex; it took me a while to figure out who she reminded me of, but about halfway through the film, I settled on Katharine Isabelle. One can certainly do worse than that. For a movie whose absurd title elicits guffaws, I was pretty shocked to actually care a little bit about these two along with Cole and Kyle. There’s some good chemistry to be found among the cast, so long as they’re not dwelling on the serious stuff (but even that works sometimes).
This one ends with a tease that the ninjas will live to fight another supernatural opponent; you’ll have to watch it to find out what it’ll be, but I will say that I’ll be there as long as Timpane wants to keep cranking these out. His two flicks so far might lack polish and a budget, but there’s an obvious love for what he’s doing, and that never goes out of style. Breaking Glass Pictures is handling home distribution for Ninjas vs. Vampires, and their DVD will feature a commentary with Timpane, deleted scenes, an alternate ending, and a trailer for the film. Ample offerings for a film that I never expected to get made; as someone who dug Timpane’s first film, I was pleasantly surprised to see him get two improbable mash-ups on store shelves. I hope he makes it a trifecta soon. Rent it!
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