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LITTLE VAMPIRE

SYNOPSIS:
When Tony Thompson (Jonathan Lipnicki) moves with his parents from their San Diego home to Scotland, he has trouble fitting in; he’s ridiculed and bullied, a situation only made worse by the fact he’s obsessing about vampires. He has vivid dreams about them and draws images from his dreams. One night, a young vampire Rudolph (Rollo Weeks) stumbles into his room. Rudolph may look nine, but he’s actually a 300-year-old neck nipper who’s only allowed to drink cow's blood. Despite a shaky start, the two become firm friends. Rudolph explains that a mysterious amulet holds the key to allowing his vampire family to become human again. But before they can even find the amulet, they must outwit Rookery (Jim Carter) a manic vampire hunter.

"Bram Stoker may be spinning in his grave after the recent spate of lifeless reincarnations of his classic story (can you say Dracula 2000). Luckily, this cute little number starring Jerry Maguire’s cute little scene-stealer Jonathan Lipnicki doesn’t drive a stake though it’s heart. Based on the kids books by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg, The Little Vampire goes for, well, cute comedy over scares, which is ambitious considering the subject. It’s like an unholy alliance of kids fantasy, PG-rated frights, and political correctness, all brought to life by a winning cast and a cheeky comic spirit. With the "no-biting rule" established early on, plenty of action, humour, and mild scares keep it cracking. Parents needn’t worry; the violence is neither overbearing nor insulting to a child's intelligence, though any kind of intentional violence in a kid’s film sounds to me like some kind of introduction to violence before graduation to WWF and Schwarzenegger. So while it will appeal more to kids with a taste for the macabre rather than teddy bears and tank engines, it concentrates on the simple notion of inner worth over outward appearance. Weeks provides a mature control to counter Lipnicki's saccharine cuteness, while game adults like Richard E. Grant as the vampire lord, Alice Krige as the vampire mommy, and Jim Carter as an inventive vampire hunter all get into the spirit of things. Adult audiences are kept entertained by the now routine horror references and movie allusions, though they will probably find the resolution to be wholly unsatisfying. Given his anaemic constraints and underwritten script, director Uli Edel has crafted a nice little entertainer for school holiday tykes."
Shannon J Harvey

"In an odd way, of all the vampire films in the last 12 months, Little Vampire is one of the more original. It envisions vampires not as evil or even innate hunters, but as beings whose existence is so bleak that they’d rather give it up to become human. Indeed, the film portrays them more as harmless bohemians than bloodthirsty demons. This is a far cry from Bram Stoker and F W Murnau; but it fits in with this PG re-working of the legend. The combination of cute kids and the undead is a little off-putting at first, but eventually moves nicely into the rhythm of the film. If you’re looking for anything more than standard school-holiday fare from the plot however, you’ll be disappointed. When things get going, this is quite routine stuff (complete with a nasty baddie, snotty bullies and the pint-sized hero to save the day). Oh, and there’s some vampire cows; but let’s not dwell on that. The direction by Ulrich Edel is pedestrian but the engaging characters do enough to keep it moving along. Lipnicki is well-cast as the plucky little guy who has to help out his new-found friends. The film plays relentlessly on his cuteness; but I guess it’s hard to avoid. Rollo Weeks plays Rudolph with a strangely "stiff upper lip" attitude; but nonetheless works well with Lipnicki. Richard E Grant has an unenviable role as Rudolph’s father, a mix of "traditional" vampire and doting father; but manages it with ease. The show is stolen however by Jim Carter as Rookery. All leather and charms and bad attitude, he clearly relishes playing the villain. Little Vampire is probably best for 8 –10 year olds. It offers a few interesting notes, but overall is a stock holiday flick."
David Edwards

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

LITTLE VAMPIRE (PG)
(US)

CAST: Jonathan Lipnicki, Richard E. Grant, Jim Carter

DIRECTOR: Ulrich Edel

PRODUCER: Richard Claus

SCRIPT: Karey Kirkpatrick & Larry Wilson (based on Angela Sommer-Bodenburg’s novel),

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Bernd Heinl

EDITOR: Peter R. Adam

MUSIC: Nigel Clarke, Michael Csányi-Wills

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Joseph C. Nemec III

RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 5, 2001 (Melbourne); Other states: April 12, 2001

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: December 5, 2001







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