Friday, November 10, 2017

The Little Vampire: New Adventures – review

Director: Christian Görlitz

First aired: 1993

Contains spoilers

Ostensibly following the 1986 series, the Little Vampire, this differed in many ways starting with the fact that it was a wholly different cast. The first series had been a German/Canadian joint production and had been filmed in Canada. This series was solely a German production and was filmed in Germany and Belgium.

I managed to finally track it down in a joint set with the first series, both with an English dub… and the dubbing is atrociously bad but, you know what, it is just as I remember it when it aired in the UK and that dubbing might have been poor but added a layer of nostalgia to the viewing.

Anton flying
Having established the backstory and lore in the first series this series gets down to it without bothering to recap the rules and assuming that the audience realises that ten-years old Anton (Matthias Ruschke) is a human boy whose best friend is Rüdiger von Schlotterstein (Jan Steilen), the little vampire of the title. Anton is in possession of a vampire cloak that allows him to fly (indeed it is the cloaks that power the vampires’ flights as well) and that Rüdiger’s sister Anna (Lena Krüper) is in love with Anton. Reference to Anna drinking milk as she has not decided what age she wants to be is lost, but she noticeably has less in the way of fang.

Geiermeier & Stöbermann
The episodes are self-contained, though they do build to a loose overall narrative as simple as that might be. In the first part of the series the antagonist is vampire hunter Geiermeier (Marián Labuda). He is said to have had some success as a vampire hunter and yet his character is shown as bumbling and easily outsmarted by Anton. When Anton, and subsequently Rüdiger, goes on holiday to the countryside the antagonist is local doctor Stöbermann (Dominique Horwitz). He really is shown as bumbling and quite ridiculous. From a family of vampire hunters he enlists Anton’s help (who is smart enough to act as a double agent and discover his plans) and shows him a picture of his ancestor – actually a still from Horror of Dracula.

Anton's parents with the vampires
Of course there is no sign of vampire attacks and, despite Anton’s fear of the adult vampires they are drawn in a far more comedic way than sinister. One must question their hunting prowess also. At a vampire party in the final episode they fail to notice that Anton and his parents (who have dressed up as vampires to surprise him and believe the vampires to be members of a theatre troupe in character) are human – though Anna has sprayed them all with her favourite (rancid) perfume. However they also fail to notice Stöbermann just a few yards from the vampires as well, and his vampire hunting dog that barks in the presence of the undead for some reason stays silent too!

Rüdiger and his mother
The vampire party proves itself to be a fairly diverse affair – with vampires from many parts of the globe. If the introductions are to be believed, however, Dracula is not amongst them. As he is referred to by Rüdiger’s father (Dietrich Mattausch) and the party, which takes place every 130 years, was instigated by a communique by Dracula one would have thought they would have included the character at the party.

Anton and Anna
There is a dreamy quality to the show – perhaps added to by the VHS print and the fact that the night scenes were filmed during the day and filtered. The matting for things such as flying is, of course, quite coarse now. Often the relationship between Anton and Rüdiger seems forced as they come across as quite antagonistic to each other and, frankly, quite bratish at times. However this possibly owes as much to the awful dubbing; and it is really bad, and yet there is something still rather fun about this – probably down to nostalgia but nevertheless there. 5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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