KidVid: Halloween Fun for PreTweens, Vampire Dog, (2012)
Imagine knowing the exact, no-fail formula for producing a hit motion picture. (Steven Spielberg comes close, I guess, but then there’s 1941, his 1979 World War II comedy that took a critical drubbing…but let’s face it, it was funny.) Being in possession of such a formula would bring one untold riches—or at least lots of big bucks. But what goes into a hit film—big name stars? Humongous budgets? Fantastically talented writers? A visionary director? Excellence in technology? Awe -inspiring locations? Well…no. We’ve seen plenty of flops that combined all or some of these facets with superior editing, appropriate sets, and wonderful music.
Vampire Dog, a September 25, 2012 DVD release, does not have big name stars (unless you count Norm MacDonald who will always be a big star in my book), a visionary director (Geoff Anderson), a fantastically gifted writer (Tracy McMenemy), outstanding technical work, or a location that leaves you breathless (unless you’re really into public schools). It doesn’t even have much of a plot, and it obviously didn’t have much of a budget. However, Vampire Dog is bound to be a hit with the pretween set, the seven-, eight-, and nine-year olds who aren’t yet discriminating enough to understand why every movie doesn’t have flatulence, male authority figures taking a hit to the crotch, buffoonish villains, and kids who save the day (or night or world).
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The story centers around a boy named Ace (Collin MacKechnie) who inherits his grandfather’s 600-year-old vampire dog, which happens to speak (Norm MacDonald) and will only eat red “jelly” (gelatin). The boy is a gifted drummer who suffers severe stage fright and cannot play in front of anyone but his mother, the mother is a music teacher brought in to save a school from closing, and they are both new in town. The student body at the school Ace attends (and where Mom teaches) is comprised of mean girls, a sympathetic, smart, and sweet girl (Julia Sarah Stone) under the influence of mean girls, the mean girls male friends (mean boys), and the most unaccepting, unkind kids in all of Canada. Except for Ace’s mom (Jodi Sadowsky), the school is staffed with disinterested teachers and a principal who should be under indictment.