My Best Friend is a Vampire (1987)

It’s interesting that Jimmy Huston’s horror comedy has managed to rise above the rest of the teen horror comedies over the years. Even something like “Once Bitten” which had a young Jim Carrey, isn’t nearly as popular as “My Best Friend is a Vampire.” Despite being insanely silly, and features one of the most lackluster romantic interests of the eighties, “My Best Friend is a Vampire” (aka “I Was a Teenage Vampire”) has survived mainly for its very vocal LGBTQ overtones, and a soundtrack that’s better than it has any right to be.

Teenager Jeremy Capello is a normal middle-class boy, who lives with his beloved parents and has Ralph as his best friend. He works making deliveries for a supermarket and is seduced by his newest client sexy Nora. During a sexual encounter with her, Jeremy is bitten and transformed in a vampire. As Jeremy struggles to figure out his new powers, his friend Ralph is mistakenly chased by two weird vampire hunters, Leopold and his assistant Grimsdyke, both of whom believe he is a creature of the night. Meanwhile, Jeremy meets elder vampire Modoc, who teaches him how to adapt all the while he decides to pursue his high school crush Darla.

The teen horror movie was pretty popular in the eighties, as teens were becoming witches, zombies, vampires, werewolves, monsters, exorcists, freaks, and anything else that you could concoct. They were all mostly metaphors for budding sexuality and puberty, and “My Best Friend is a Vampire” does it well. By today’s standards it’s hopelessly silly and garners a very goofy finale, but it watches well. It’s often witty and is never all that subtle about its very vocal themes. Our introduction to character Jeremy involves a wet dream he has with his nearly non-binary love interest Darla. He’s lured in to bed by a gorgeous woman who happens to be a vampire.

And he’s groomed by an older vampire gentleman who teaches him how to “blend” with others in society and lead a full life without being hunted. Not to mention the film’s villain, a smug vampire hunter, literally is consumed in an orgy of vampires, and emerges embracing his new ahem—lifestyle, so to speak. Rene Auberjonois is the film’s master vampire Modoc who takes a liking to Jeremy and is very interested in getting him accommodated in his new lifestyle. It’s no coincidence that Modoc is played with an obvious queer coding, as he tailors Jeremy to accept his life rather than fight them. Hell, while Jeremy’s best friend is immediately accepting of his lifestyle.

Jeremy’s parents, meanwhile, have a sub-plot where they spend the whole movie trying to find a way to come to terms with his new development. There’s also David Warner and Paul Wilson, in particular, a pair of spiteful vampire hunters that are dead set in killing Jeremy. They spend the whole film botching their attempts, and poor Wilson as sidekick Grimsdyke is physically punished by just about everyone. Robert Sean Leonard is charming in the role of Jeremy, an average eighties teen who is weak to the allure of the older femme fatale/vampiress Nora (Cecillia Peck). “My Best Friend is a Vampire” isn’t exactly what I’d call laugh out loud funny, but it does have some moments of raucous humor, and it is smarter than most of its genre contemporaries, which definitely helps it stand apart.