Barackula: The Musical (2008)

When I heard the title of this horror/comedy/musical short, I was first intrigued, then apprehensive, then a bit hungry (I had a bagel; problem solved), and finally intrigued again. I was prepared to see a cheesy, YouTube-quality, anti-Barack Obama skit starring a lookalike in a cape and fangs “sucking” the life out of America or something like that, but actually, the lookalike (Justin Sherman, who wrote the film) is not a vampire.

On the contrary, he’s resisting a group of vampires who are trying to recruit him, so really, the title could be Barackuffy the Vampire Refrainer. And the production value is remarkable, especially for something you can view free. The acting, writing, direction and even the music and choreography, are all well done — albeit in an intentionally campy Rocky Horror Picture Show sort of way.

The story travels back to 1990, when Obama was attending Harvard Law School. He discovers to his dismay that the staff of The Harvard Law Review (of which, in real life, he served as the first black president) is comprised entirely of vampires, and they want him to serve as president — but only if he becomes one of them. “You are the first of your kind to lead our elite group,” he’s told by lead vamp Ben (Nathan Bell, whose douchily coifed vamp getup accurately foretold the coming of Twilight), a funny double entendre that’s the only real reference to race. Obama is, of course, taken aback and must use his skills of oration, motivation and dance (?) to get out of the jam…for now.

What could’ve been a corny, one-sided endorsement padded with overt political agendas instead becomes just a fun skit about an idealist in an unusual situation, a film for all to enjoy — unless you’re an extreme Republican…or a vampire. Really, is there any difference?

“Frank Gehry designed my hair.”
“Did you just ask me to jive?”
The Harry Potter Fan Club is invitation-only.
Once you go Barack, you don’t let Michelle know.

What do you think?