My Best Friend is a Vampire, 1987
directed by Jimmy Huston, written by Tab Murphy
Robert Sean Leonard as Jeremy Capello
Fannie Flagg as Mrs. Capello
Kenneth Kimmins as Mr. Capello
Evan Mirand as Ralph
David Warner as Prof. Leopold McCarthy
Paul Willson as Grimsdyke
Rene Auberjonois as Modoc
This is a rather innocuous film. It could almost be an after-school special. The only offensive thing about it is that it’s rather a waste of David Warner and Rene Auberjonois. Oh how I do so very much adore Rene Auberjonois.
There’s not an actual homosexual in this, but it is a vampire movie about homosexuality. This is a sort of dry run for all those “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” episodes where the monster is a metaphor.
So the plot of the film is that a teenage boy, Jeremy Capello (played by Robert Sean Leonard) becomes a vampire after meeting with a lady vampire. Describing it as an infection after a careless one night stand, and subsequent talk by the vampire hunters about containment of vampire infection ties in fairly explicitly with contemporary AIDS hysteria.
The boy is then befriended by an older vampire mentor, Modoc (played by Rene Auberjonois). Modoc gives him various pep-talks which wouldn’t be out of place in a gay encounter group, describing being s vampire as an “ alternative lifestyle”, the compensations of a fascinating new lifestyle, and the need to deal with those who would persecute minorities . Possibly significantly the vampire hunter played by David Warner is called McCarthy, and he learns acceptance after losing his sexual repression. Some reviewers have described Rene Auberjonois’s character as camp. But frankly, this must be the judgement of people who don’t know what camp can mean. Nor do they know what kind of performance Rene Auberjonois is really capable of.
Jeremy reveals his new nature to his best friend, who gradually comes to accept him. As Jeremy says, “I’m still the same person, I’m not some monster”
And if it weren’t obvious enough by this point, the plotline following Jeremy’s parents makes its gay allusions explicit. They’re nice liberal, slightly concerned, but caring parents, who are taken aback by their son’s life-style changes, such as adopting a more stereotypically vampirically stylish appearance. Jeremy’s also made comments about feeling pestered by girls (since he secretly has his heart set on one particular girl). Furthermore, they see their son trying to conceal all the time he’s spending with Modoc. They put all this together and come to the conclusion any parent might come to in a world without vampires.
So we get a brief scene with the parents reading paperback copies of "One Teenager In Ten", and “Are You Still My Mother?: Are You Still My Family?” (gay guides for parents in the mid-80s).
Dad: We have to face the facts, honey. Our son is gay. How do you feel about that?
Mom: I really wanted grandchildren.
The parents are shown as perfectly understanding and caring. Although they take the idea that their son might be having an affair with the much older Modoc with surprisingly good grace. Of course, at the end of the film, just as the parents are about to mistakenly declare to Jeremy their acceptance of his homosexuality, the son introduces his new girlfriend. So all the homosexuality is denied at the end. At least the parents demonstrate no crass “phew that’s a relief”.
There is one homo-comedy moment, when Jeremy is practising his vampire love-slave trance glare in a nightclub and accidentally hits the tubby vampire hunter who suddenly burst out proclaims his affection for the son’s best friend.