In executive producer James Franco’s campy Lifetime TV movie MOTHER, MAY I SLEEP WITH DANGER?, college co-ed Leah (Leila George) should be on top of the world — she’s just been cast as Macbeth in the school play, she’s doing great at school, and she’s in love with gothy photographer Pearl (Emily Meade). However, there are several big bummers getting her down: Her mom, Julie (Tori Spelling), doesn’t approve of Leah’s relationship; her friend Bob (Nick Eversman) is jealous of Pearl and acting really strangely lately; and, worst of all, Pearl isn’t just a college student — she’s a vampire, part of a cabal of vampires secretly draining any abusive man they can lay their hands (and teeth!) on, while looking for other women to join them. Leah doesn’t quite know what she’s up against — but she’s determined to make it work with Pearl, even if their relationship is taking some very unconventional turns.
The original TV movie was sheer guilty-pleasure trash, but though this remake is pretty darn campy, the acting, writing, and general dignity given to its characters make it a cut above. Leah isn’t just a go-for-broke college student who’ll date anyone; she’s a thoughtful young woman with ambition who takes her relationship seriously, even to the point of having a coming-out dinner with her mom. Of course, the fact that that mom’s a stunt-cast Spelling, who was the lead in the original, does lend the proceedings an ironic tone. Spelling’s protective-parent motives are also a bit more questionable than those in the original — is she trying to keep her daughter out of danger? Or is she just upset by her being in a lesbian relationship?
Casting original Danger lead Ivan Sergei as a college professor who dryly explains the sexual/queer connotations of vampire literature and movies was a great touch, too — it’s increasingly hard to take the antics of the lesbian vampire posse seriously when they accompany voice-overs of Sergei and his students analyzing the meaning of horror clichés. But far from detracting from the pleasures of this knowing satire, the academic twist adds to the fun, with the filmmakers finding layers of meaning in Hamlet’s magic and doom, too. The filmmakers clearly had a great time making this. Maybe that’s why it’s so fun to watch.