Danny Trejo portrays the boss vampire in "Vampfather." (Photo courtesy
JBB Featured Contributor

Ben Nagy reviews ‘VampFather’: Patriarch vampire and his family face extinction

Readers are advised that the opinions of contributors may occasionally diverge from the infallible wisdom of Joe Bob Briggs, and in such cases, Joe Bob cannot be held responsible for any resulting confusion, enlightenment, or existential crises.  Enjoy.

You expect Danny Trejo to be chewing up scenery for the whole flick, fanging people and doing a Marlon Brando impersonation throughout "Vampfather."

Today, May 16, 2024, is a special day because it marks the 80th birthday of the man, the myth and the legend that is Danny Trejo.

Even though his career really hasn’t coincided with the heyday of the drive-in (his debut was in Runaway Train in 1985 and that’s when Wal-Mart started buying up all the drive-ins to put in Supercenters), he did appear in two Cannon Charles Bronson flicks (Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects and Death Wish 4), so that gives him drive-in cred right there. But then he was in From Dusk Till Dawn with Tom Savini and Fred Williamson, Con-Air with Nicolas Cage and let’s not forget his turn as Machete and in the Bad Ass trilogy.

Trejo overcame addiction, did a stint in prison and not only carved an acting career out for himself with an iconic character, but he’s also become an entrepreneur as well, opening a taco franchise up in El Lay and overseas in London.

It’s 100 percent certain that he’s a drive-in kind of guy, AND he continues to work in drive-in flicks. It’s pretty certain that he’s destined for a spot in the Drive-In Hall of Fame just like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bronson, Godzilla and “The King” Roger Corman. It’s just a matter of time.

So in honor of Señor Trejo turning the odometer to 80, we’re going to celebrate the rest of May 2024 as El Mayo de Trejo by checking out movies he was in.

Poster for "Vampfather" from 2022, starring Danny Trejo.
Poster for “VampFather” from 2022, starring Danny Trejo.

The first one is VampFather, which had so much potential on its title alone. Who wouldn’t want to watch a Godfather-style vampire Mafia flick with Danny Trejo being Marlon Brando and chewing up some scenery while a bunch of underworld family minions wrangled over his supernatural empire?

Sadly, the flick was much less than that.

Basically we have two lady vampires and two male vampires: Brandusa (Luna Rioumina), Daciana (Vanessa von Scwarz), Grigore (Marcus Shirock) and Nikolai (Jared McClure) all gathering in the family castle to kiss the Vampfather’s ring and lament the fact that it looks like the 6,000-year reign of the vampires is coming to an end. Brandusa is the hot Gothic raven-haired one. Daciana is the weaker, yet still vampy one. Grigore has used his time as a vampire to perfect his dubbed snarling technique and Nikolai is the duplicitous one not to be trusted.

Trejo’s in it for the first 17 minutes before his Undead Don character rolls his eyes in the back of his head and passes out because the purity of the blood of humans has made it undrinkable and so all the vampire family’s going to starve. There was going to be some kind of competition among his family consisting of his daughter, niece and nephews about some gold the Nazis stole during World War 2, but instead all of the vampires stake themselves on purpose because he said so.

Sasha (Alix Villaret), the last member of the vampire crew shows up late to the gathering and finds everybody staked, except for Grigore, but he unleashes one last mighty vampiric snarl before succumbing and she finishes him.

Sasha stakes herself, but it doesn’t work. So the rest of the movie is about how she’s stuck between whether she’s a vampire or human or what. She has the urge to suck blood, but she can go out in sunlight.

Vampire Sasha (Alix Villaret) has a lot of things to resolve after losing her family at the start of "Vampfather." (Photo courtesy
Vampire Sasha (Alix Villaret) has a lot of things to resolve after losing her family at the start of “VampFather.” (Photo courtesy

She shows up to her cubicle job and she and her co-worker Cherie (Julia Conley) go to a Halloween party, almost make out, then leave.

She visits vampire family physician Dr. Blood (Stan Harrington) and he says she’s immune to the vampire extinction and a mutant. There’s a scene later where he makes out with a blow-up doll and he also has impressive facial hair.

Sasha goes to see a psychologist (Tom Sizemore) who has a lot of Halloween decorations in his office and a corned beef sandwich on his desk and admits she wants to be human.

The psychologist does a Wizard of Oz impersonation. She gives him the map to the Jewish treasure in Transylvania in exchange.

This flick has lots of talking. If Sasha isn’t talking to her co-worker/love interest, then she’s talking to her doctor. If she’s not talking to her doc, she’s talking to the shrink. If she’s not talking to the shrink, then she’s talking to two cops who are brought in about an hour into the flick to investigate some vampire-type murders.

Ben's Bloody Best

Best Attitude: Brandusa talks about Nazi gold, cusses a lot and uses the metric system.

Best Snarler: Grigore doesn’t take kindly to his relatives.

Best Display of Unprofessional Behavior: A police investigator takes a selfie with the psychologist’s corpse.

Second-best Display of Unprofessional Behavior: Sasha and Cherie go on their office’s roof, kind of make out and down a whole bottle of tequila. Their boss fires em.

Best Source of Academic Inspiration: Cherie is asleep one night and has a dream about Sasha possibly coming to her place at night and almost vamping out on her. The next day at work, she confides to Sasha that that particular dream-like episode has inspired her to write a dissertation.

Best Way to Muzzle a Vampire: Put on a spiky Hannibal Lechter mask on the suspected bloodsucker and attach it with handcuffs around the head, which happens to Sasha.

Best Advice from the Detective to the Rookie Cop: When Holmes says “Don’t let your dick get in the way of your gun.”

Best Turn-On: Detective Holmes put a bug on Junior and listened to him aardvarking the vampire against a chain link fence.

Way, way too much talking in this one. Not a lot of vampiring and rather than being a full-length feature, the scenes really played more like an episode of the old show Dark Shadows except with all the dramatic moodiness sucked out of it. Instead there were some caricatures, dropped characters and random happenings that didn’t really amount to much. Then the end winds up getting the viewer pretty much back to the beginning and hits the reset button on the whole scenario.

One star.

But if you’ve seen the Regal Cinema Pepsi commercial where Trejo did the “Fredo, you broke my heart” line from Godfather 2, you see what an opportunity was missed here. If VampFather‘s script had allowed, we could have had him overseeing a vampire crime syndicate before being tragically overthrown, but that wasn’t what writer/director Stuart Paul gave us.

Check VampFather out streaming on Tubi or Vudu or it’s out on physical media.

Share this post with friends

Let us know what you think: