Vampire Dad

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Vampire Dad Movie Poster Image
Kitschy, low-budget creature feature has cursing, drug use.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 80 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The only stated message is that "we all have a little monster in us."

Positive Role Models & Representations

The story is about a family trying to deal with the patriarch turning into a blood-sucking serial killer, so no role models here. 

Violence

A vampire is covered in blood after taking the lives of both humans and animals, but no violence occurs on-screen. Comedic, unrealistic suicide attempts.

Sex

Couples make out. Father-daughter talk about sex. Two characters flirt and fall in love. A woman wears a tight, cleavage-revealing dress. A Peeping Tom wandering the neighborhood is a concern. Mention of a man who looked up a woman's skirt.

Language

Infrequent profanity includes "dammit," "horny," "pain in the ass," and "bitch" (as a double entendre). 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Character trips on LSD that someone slipped into his drink. Wine drinking. Smoking, including by an attractive teen. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Vampire Dad is a satirical movie that imagines what '50s/'60s-era U.S. family comedies would be like if the father was transformed into a vampire. So it's basically Father Knows Best with blood. That said, all of Dad's bloodsucking activities take place outside of the family's home -- which is the only on-camera location -- and he's just shown with blood around his mouth to indicate what's happened. His inability to control his urge to kill is played as absurdist and jokey. He also makes a couple of suicide attempts (portrayed as comic/ridiculous) and unintentionally takes LSD. There's worry about a Peeping Tom in the neighborhood, and a couple of characters are seen smoking, including a teen boy. Two romances have some over-the-top kissing, and characters use mild profanity ("pain in the ass," "bitch," etc.). 

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What's the story?

VAMPIRE DAD takes place in 1962, when psychologist Dr. Raymond Walenski (Jackson Hurst) is trying to navigate his new life as a bloodsucker. He's been transformed by the Goddess of the Underworld so that he can provide therapy to other supernatural creatures. In the meantime, his very human wife, Natasha (Emily O'Brien), is working overtime to keep Raymond's new identity a secret from their teenage daughter and neighbors.

Is it any good?

Vampire Dad is so offbeat that it takes some getting used to -- but it does grow on you. Every criticism is balanced by a compliment. The comedy doesn't hit at first because of distracting issues that are likely connected to the movie's low budget -- such as poor computer animation and audio that sounds like it never went through a final mix. But you've got to respect how writer-director Frankie Ingrassia worked around her budgetary issues by confining all of the live-action scenes to the Walenski home and using Lichtenstein-type comic art to portray the remaining images (even if that animation looks cheap at times). O'Brien nails the voice and mannerisms of mid-century U.S. actresses playing wholesome TV housewives, but her character's nervous energy is so overdone that it becomes irritating. In both delivery and look, Brother Bob (Barak Harkley) never fits the retro style, making him an annoyance at first -- but his take on the character eventually pays off, and he becomes the one you can't wait to see. 

The idea is brilliant: A psychiatrist is chosen by the underworld to be bitten and transformed into a vampire so that he can provide therapy to the creatures of the night. It would make an amazing concept for an episodic series; the storylines are endless. Here, it's wasted. The 1962 setting is a red herring that offers nothing. The film's conclusion is a throwaway lip-synced dance number, the type of extra usually meant to play alongside the credits. Vampire Dad's campy, jokey approach feels less like a film and more like a Nick at Nite sitcom that desperately needs a laugh track. Still, the potential is so rich that it will undoubtedly find the small niche audience it's looking for. It was never made to be "good": It was made to become a cult favorite. One way or another, like its subject matter, it seems destined to transform.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the hallmarks of the classic U.S. TV family of the 1950s. What about them was realistic, and what wasn't? How does this film make fun of those qualities?

  • How does Vampire Dad compare to other creature features you've seen? 

  • What's the difference between satire, parody, and a spoof? Between kitschy and campy? How would you classify this film?

  • How are drug use, drinking, and smoking used to tell the story? Are they glamorized or made to look fun?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love vampires and other monsters

Themes & Topics

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