For the past few years, the indie community has been abuzz with gossip about director Jonathan Gallan’s Shakespearean comedy Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Undead, which recasts the Tom Stoppard play as a modern-day vampire story complete with a juicy backstory (a 2,000-year-old vampire seeks to settle a centuries-long with the real Hamlet), a plot within a plot (the characters are working on their own small-stage reinterpretation of Hamlet), and an oddball (Jake Hoffman a.k.a. Dustin’s son, Jeremy Sisto, Kris Lemche, Devon Aoki, the Sopranos’ John Ventimiglia and ye old Karate Kid himself, Ralph Macchio). Now that the film’s on the distribution market, whither the buzz?
Dread Central originally broke the news back in December 2007, via a scoop gleaned from producer Russ Terlecki, reporting optimistically: “An eclectic cast, for sure, but this sounds like it could be a lot of fun, even if it is about vampires…stay tuned!”
The Hollywood Reporter soon followed up with the news that no less than Sean Lennon would be scoring the movie, which begat an excited post by EW‘s PopWatch blog, titled “Am I hallucinating this unbelievably awesome movie?” Writer Simon Vozick-Levinson went on to say, “All in all, I give this project a 20% chance of actually existing in the fact-based world. What do you say — is that Hollywood Reporter story there on the other end of that link, or did my flu-like virus make it up? And if it’s true, are you half as excited about it as I am?” The folks over at Ain’t It Cool New sure were, wrapping up a giddy post about the project with the line, “…and Ralph Macchio plays a mob boss who fights vampires. That’s really all I need to know.” They also dubbed the movie “automatically cool.”
Then, just one month later, in March 2008, a dizzying unofficial trailer leaked to the internet, and things took a turn for the worse. Cinematical posted the trailer with the caveat “Warning: Watching this clip might strain your eyes, put you into a flash-induced coma, or just really annoy you,” followed by a withering post that ended with the note, “I’m still curious about the film, but I have no love for this headache-inducing collection of clips.”
Commentators over at Terrorfeed agreed: “They should have a warning on the trailer that says ‘May Cause Seizures.'”
Predictably, the trailer was soon yanked, but a somewhat more mannered official preview arrived shortly thereafter at ShockTillYouDrop.com, with the introduction, “As you’ll see from the preview below, the film is charged with humor and sexy undead gals.” Commentators agreed, chiming in with comments ranging from “Can’t wait to see this. It looks awesome,” and “Tres beau!! bravo!!” Others took issue with Gallan’s decision to shoot on the new, as-yet-untested Red One camera. Said commentator Joshua: “This looks shot on video. It makes the acting so painful. Like a reality show. I’m not impressed that Sodelberg is gaga about this video camera, after all he’s shot Full Frontal on video and he managed to make a movie with Julia Roberts that grossed 2 million dollars! What a looser [sic].”
Well, now the movie’s making the film-festival rounds, with a much-hyped premiere at this year’s Slamdance already under its belt — but good luck with finding any reviews from that first go-round. After scouring the Internet, we can only report that all the people who attended the film’s two screenings must have been on the honor code to keep their traps shut. (Have you seen it? If so, throw us a bone!)
Luckily, the movie gets a second shot at distribution-landing fame via its slot at this weekend’s AFI Dallas — a post on QuickDFW.com which prompted one commentator who’d seen the movie (someone involved with the film, perhaps?) to post a lone review in a sea of deafening online silence: “Anyone who wants a great movie this is the one to see, its different and funny. i love it — i give it a 12 on a scale from one to ten. Will the second time be charm for this once-buzzy vampire flick? Stay tuned…Read More