What do you get when you combine vampires, zombies, and a member of the Backstreet Boys as the main star? Vampire Burt’s Serenade. Ken Roht directs Kevin Richardson in this uneven, campy experience that is so bad it’s good. Richardson stars as Burt, a self-absorbed creature of the night whose playground of Los Angeles fuels his desires for two things: blood and a shit ton of drugs.
In terms of narrative, the film is all over the place. What’s important is that Burt rubs people the wrong way and they want to get revenge. The list includes others he’s turned into vampires, a woman bitten by a zombie, and a brigade of strippers who raise $10,000 to hire a vampire killer. Over the course of an evening, things go from bad to worse to weird as everyone converges upon Burt’s location for an over-the-top laughable conclusion, complete with freeze frames and slow motion.
But wait, there’s more! Did I mention the movie is a musical? Admittedly, the songs aren’t anything to write home about. While no particular melody is memorable, you can’t help tapping your foot along as you watch the craziness unfold. Only a movie as bonkers as Vampire Burt’s Serenade would have a vampire make up a song about being a “dizzy, dancing bear.” I’m not kidding.
That being said, the film is an entire low-budget production. But the cast doesn’t seem to care. They appear to be having fun in this film combining the zany with the burlesque. And buckets of blood. Shoddy CGI effects and squibs of blood tell us that Vampire Burt’s Serenade isn’t passing itself off as the next Citizen Kane. With scenes that include Burt snorting coke out of a scantily clad woman’s navel and awkward sex between two people in the shittiest bathroom this side of Trainspotting, its a wonder how this film got made.
But that raises the next question: is it any good? Definitely not. But who cares? Is it enjoyable? Um . . . for the most part. Knockback a few beers and you’ll be in the mood to watch it. The main draw to the film is Kevin Richardson’s involvement. As one of many musicians who have transitioned to film roles, the transition can feel rocky. While it worked well for some (Barbara Streisand and Will Smith come to mind), it doesn’t for others (Jessica Simpson, Gene Simmons). Richardson allegedly falls into the latter category, but in a movie like this, who cares? For those who love the Backstreet Boys, it’s a no brainer. Seeing one of their heartthrobs on screen as a vampire may equal that of seeing the shirtless protagonists in Twilight.
While the film is not particularly good, I predict word-of-mouth will spread like wildfire and that people will watch it. Vampire Burt’s Serenade has the potential to grow into a cult classic and thrive like The Room in theatrical repertoire screenings or become the next shadow cast extravaganza after The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Repo: The Genetic Opera.
Sean Woodard serves as the Film Editor for Drunk Monkeys and a Co-Producer of the faith and spirituality podcast, Ordinary Grace. Focusing on a wide variety of interests, Sean’s fiction, film criticism, and other writings have been featured in Los Angeles Review of Books, NonBinary Review, Horrorbuzz, Cultured Vultures, and Los Angeles Magazine, among other publications. He is currently a doctoral student at University of Texas at Arlington.