Blaxploitation legends Fred Williamson, Richard Roundtree and Bernie Casey starring in a vampire movie? How could this possibly go wrong? Oh yeah — because it actually stars Tom “Tiny” Lister, Glenn Plummer and Fredro Starr. The three iconic elder statesmen are sadly little more than window dressing in Vegas Vampires, their presence no doubt the result of Williamson directing the movie.
As a director, “The Hammer” is, well…a damn fine actor, but he does have enough clout to round up more C-list celebrities than an episode of The Surreal Life, from Lister, Plummer and Starr to rapper Kurupt, singers K-Ci and Jo Jo and Daniel “The Coked Up One” Baldwin. Vegas Vampires approaches its potential, however, only when Williamson and Roundtree (and later Casey) team up to battle the bloodsuckers — something that happens for only about 10 or 15 minutes of the movie.
It’s only then (and when a bad-ass, vampire-slaying nun joins the cause) that the film’s campy appeal emerges. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast doesn’t seem to be in on the joke. Other than these intentionally goofy moments, it’s hard to tell if the rest of the movie is meant to be taken seriously. It’s too straight-faced to be camp, yet it’s too cheap and inept to be scary. I realize that anything goes in Vegas, but does that include bad acting? With the actors reacting so matter-of-factly to the vamps, like, “Hey, look, a vampire….Let’s go to Denny’s,” you have to wonder what the outtakes looked like. (Granted, it’s hard to be scared of foppish vampires with fake teeth that barely fit in their mouths who prance around doing what looks like the Watusi.)
To top it off, the movie is practically bloodless, and the story appears to be held together by Silly String; all you really need to know is that there are bad guys (vampires) and good guys (not vampires). It seems that Vegas Vampires was shelved for four years after it was filmed in 2003, and I can certainly see why. What happened in Vegas should’ve stayed in Vegas.