Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant
|Cirque du Freak:
The Vampire's Assistant
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Paul Weitz|
|Produced by||Lauren Shuler Donner
|Screenplay by||Paul Weitz
|Based on||Vampire Blood
by Darren Shan
John C. Reilly
|Music by||Stephen Trask|
|Cinematography||J. Michael Muro|
|Editing by||Leslie Jones|
The Donners' Company
Depth of Field
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Running time||109 minutes|
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (September 2012)|
Darren Shan and his best friend, Steve Leonard, go to a traveling freak show and Steve recognizes one of the performers as a vampire. Steve goes to see the vampire, Larten Crepsley, after the show and tries to convince him to turn him into a vampire. Crepsley insists that becoming a vampire means having to give up any hope of a normal life, and Gavner Purl notes that children aren't supposed to become vampires anyway. Steve then reveals that he hates his life, and wants to be a vampire more than anything else. Crepsley reluctantly tests Steve's blood, but quickly spits it out, saying he has bad blood. Steve furiously swears revenge on Crepsley and leaves. Darren, who is hiding in the cupboard after stealing Crepsley's spider, Madam Octa, overhears the whole thing.
When Crepsley realizes that Madam Octa has been stolen, Darren flees from the theater with Crepsley hot on his trail. Outside there is a limo waiting for him, which he is told to get into. Inside he meets Desmond Tiny and mad Vampaneze Murlough. Murlough is unimpressed with Darren, but Mr. Tiny is certain he has great potential. They drop Darren off at his house where he sneaks back into his room.
The next day at school, Darren tries to take a look at Madam Octa, but Steve catches him and tries to get a close look at her while holding her cage. The bell rings, startling Steve and making him drop the cage, and she escapes. As Madam Octa tries to escape the school she creates chaos and Steve chases her, trying to kill her, and Darren follows after trying to save her. At the last moment Madam Octa slips into Steve's shirt, bites him, and makes good her escape. Madam Octa's poisonous bite leaves Steve in the hospital, and it is likely he will not survive. Darren then goes to Crepsley to ask for the antidote and is offered a deal by him. Crepsley will keep Darren safe from Mr. Tiny and give him the antidote if Darren becomes a half-vampire and Crepsley's vampire assistant. They administer the antidote to Steve at the hospital, after which Darren, who still wishes to be rid of Crepsley, sounds the hospital alarm, forcing Crepsley to leave without him.
Even as a half-vampire, Darren finds continuing with a normal life too difficult. After nearly attacking his sister out of bloodlust, Darren agrees to leave his family and go to the Cirque Du Freak with Crepsley. He fakes his own death and a funeral is held for him.
When Crepsley digs up Darren's grave they are attacked by Murlough, who tries to kidnap Darren and make him into a Vampaneze. They lose Murlough and return to the Cirque. Darren meets the snake boy, Evra Von, and Rebecca, the monkey girl. Meanwhile, Steve is contemplating suicide. Mr. Tiny stops him and offers him a chance to become a Vampaneze, like Murlough. Mr. Tiny tells Steve that he is neither a vampire nor a Vampaneze, but someone with an interest in both. Tiny learns Darren has not fed on humans yet and sends Vampaneze after him, knowing that he will be weak. Darren escapes, so they kidnap Rebecca and have Evra tell Darren to "come home".
Meanwhile, Mr. Tiny makes contact with Steve and entices him to join his Vampaneze by playing on his resentments and insecurities. Steve is turned into half-Vampaneze and then he and Murlough capture Darren's family. Darren arrives home to find his family missing and a flier for Cirque du Freak. Darren arrives at the theater, where Murlough and Steve are waiting for him. They fight, but Darren is weak from not feeding. Crepsley arrives to fight Murlough. Rebecca frees herself, while Mr. Tiny watches from the balcony. Rebecca offers Darren some of her blood. He eventually agrees and fights with Steve using his new powers. Crepsley stabs Murlough and with his dying words Murlough declares that the truce between the two clans is broken. Steve and Darren continue to fight, but Tiny stops them and turns Murlough into a Little Person. Tiny and Steve then leave. Darren's family are hypnotized to have forgotten what happened to them. Left by themselves, Rebecca and Darren then share a long heartfelt kiss before being interrupted by Mr. Crepsley. Crepsley gives Darren his own coffin, and Darren accepts his new life as a member of the Cirque du Freak.
- John C. Reilly as Larten Crepsley
- Chris Massoglia as Darren Shan
- Josh Hutcherson as Steve "Leopard" Leonard
- Salma Hayek as Madame Truska
- Jessica Carlson as Rebecca (Monkey Girl)
- Ray Stevenson as Murlough
- Patrick Fugit as Evra Von
- Willem Dafoe as Gavner Purl
- Michael Cerveris as Desmond Tiny (Mr. Destiny)
- Kristen Schaal as Gertha Teeth
- Frankie Faison as Rhamus Twobellies
- Jonathan Nosan as Hans Hands
- Tom Woodruff, Jr. as The Wolfman
- Wayne Douglas Morgan as Merman
- Blake Nelson Boyd as Mr. Afraid of the Ground Man
- Sam Medina and Gino Galento as Madame Truska's men
- Michael Dean Baker as Mr. Piercing
- Natasha Angelety as Cirque freak
- Nokomis Callender as Cirque freak
- Rose Lamarche as Cirque freak
- Stefanie Oxmann McGaha as Cirque freak
- J. J. Standing III as Cirque "Heavy"
- Ken Watanabe as Mr. Tall
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant was shot between February 19-June 1, 2008 in New Orleans, and the villages of Folsom, Louisiana and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Some of the characters required a great deal of prosthetics and makeup led by Steve Koch, Brian Sipe, and Mark Garbarino. Prosthetics did not quite add the height needed on certain shots for the character of Mr. Tall, played by Academy Award-nominated Ken Watanabe. Although Watanabe is six feet tall, a body double was cast for certain shots. Trevon Flores, a local basketball player who stands 6'10" tall and weighs 210 pounds, was used for certain shots to show the abnormal height of Mr. Tall. Additionally, Watanabe utilized dialogue coaches Kathleen S. Dunn and Francie Brown in pre-production and production to further enhance his performance as the circus barker. The filmmakers took advantage of computer-generated imagery to portray other fantasy elements.
The film began principal photography on February 8, 2008 in New Orleans and ended on June 3, 2008. The film was distributed by Universal Studios. A portion of The Vampire's Assistant was filmed on a set constructed within New Orleans City Park, approximately 1,000 feet off of the side of the road, along Harrison Avenue. In one of the manga additions of the saga, the director says that the character of Gavner Purl was a hint of the sequel he wanted to make.
The score to The Vampire's Assistant was composed by Stephen Trask, marking his third feature film with director Paul Weitz. He recorded his score with an 86-piece ensemble of the Hollywood Studio Symphony at the Newman Scoring Stage at 20th Century Fox. The movie also features "Something Is Not Right with Me" by Cold War Kids and Chelsea Dagger by The Fratellis and Red Right Hand by Nick Cave. The trailer features the songs Asleep From Day by The Chemical Brothers, Bliss by Syntax, and Superhero by Immediate Music.
The film was originally set for release on January 15, 2010, but was moved ahead to October 23, 2009.
Reception for the film has been mixed. According to Metacritic, the film holds a score of 43 out of 100, indicating "mixed or average reviews", based on 25 reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 38% from 134 critics, but also records an audience reaction of 50% liking the film.
The film opened in 2,754 theaters in the USA and made over $14 million, reaching #7 in the charts. In other countries, it made more than $25 million, giving it a worldwide box office total of more than $39 million. On DVD, sales in the USA made more than $5.5 million. Worldwide its chart placings included getting to #1 in Ukraine, #2 in Hungary, #2 in Russia, #2 in the United Arab Emirates, #3 in Mexico, #3 in Portugal, #4 in Egypt, #4 in Venezuela, #5 in Belgium, #5 in Peru, #5 in Singapore, #5 in the UK, #6 in Lebanon, #6 in the Philippines, #7 in Bulgaria, #7 in Japan, #8 in Chile, #8 in Colombia, #8 in the Netherlands, #9 in Austria, #9 in Romania, #11 in Germany, #11 in Malaysia, #11 in New Zealand.
Cirque’s teenage male leads Josh Hutcherson and newcomer Chris Massoglia both confirmed they’re all signed up for at least Cirque Du Freak 2. Hutcherson says they’re "hopefully setting up for the next one as long as this one has great success,” and when asked if he and Massoglia on board for another movie he confirmed “We’re all set, we’re ready to go.” 
The film debuted on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in Canada, the UK and USA at the end of February 2010.  In Canada, at the end of its first week on sale and rent, it was #1 on the Rogers DVD bestselling chart and #2 on the Blockbuster Canada bestselling chart, and #6 on the rental charts of both. In the USA it was #2 on the Rentrak bestseller chart, and #6 on the Blockbuster, Home Media and IMDb rental charts. In the UK it reached #5 on the MyMovies bestsellers chart, and #6 on the Yahoo chart.
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- Dan Goldwasser (2009-03-23). "Stephen Trask scores Cirque du Freak". ScoringSessions.com. Retrieved 2009-03-23.
- The Vampire's Assistant will be 109 minutes or 1 hour and 49 minutes.The Vampire's Assistant (2009)
- "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. 2009-10-23. Retrieved 2012-09-24.
- "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-03-07.
- "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant". The Numbers. Retrieved 2012-09-24.
- Creepy, Uncle (2009-12-28). "Art and Details: Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant". DreadCentral.com. Retrieved 2012-09-24.
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- Official website
- Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant at the Internet Movie Database
- Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant at allmovie
- Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant at Box Office Mojo