Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead

Starring: Jake Hoffman, Devon Aoki, John Ventimiglia, Kris Lemche Directed by: Jordan Galland

Alas, poor Yorick…you're not even in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead!  And Hamlet?  Depends on if you're talking about the play or the man.  Both are parts of this film, but this is not your high school literature teacher's Hamlet.

Julian (Jake Hoffman) is on the verge of getting kicked out of his father's house/medical office for being a general slacker who apparently believes his job is bringing home a different girl every night rather than bringing home the bacon.  In his copious free time, he also acts as his gorgeous ex-girlfriend's errand lackey.  Even though she is dating an obnoxious entrepreneur (Ralph Macchio).

Forced to interview for a director's position at a small theater (or else find other living arrangements), Julian finds himself with a new job after a very weird interview with theater owner/actor Theo (John Ventimiglia).  Tasked with finding suitable actors for a vampire-themed adaptation of the classic play, he enlists his best friend Vince (Kris Lemche).  His ex-girlfriend Anna (Devon Aoki) salivates at the idea of playing Ophelia, but Julian is hesitant to involve her with the strange cast of characters.  Including an actor who believes the names of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern should be updated to Rosendude and Guildenbro, or other similar abominations.

Vince suspects something truly is rotten in the state of this theater company when he thinks he sees Theo and two of the other actresses devouring a human outside a club.  He screams for Julian, but by the time Julian appears – there is nothing to be seen.  Vince is also approached by a woman who insists a vampire-themed adaptation of Hamlet is part of an ancient conspiracy, usually ending in the whole cast and audience becoming a vampire buffet on opening night.  Seems crazy, right?  Well, not as crazy as the Monthy Python-esque video explaining the historical track of this conspiracy, or even the ridiculously rambling play itself.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead is one of those films that gives me great hope for my own mediocre scriptwriting.  However, the sheer goofiness of the storyline makes this a very enjoyable movie, if you like that sort of thing.  It definitely does not resemble Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, which I once attempted to watch and miserably failed (I don't like absurdist plays/movies/etc.), but it does make a reference to it.  The acting is not all bad, and the brief appearance of Hamlet is hilarious (but not as hilarious as Hamlet thinks it is.  Yeah.  He's that guy).

If you:

  • Like Hamlet, but are not a literary purist about it – after all, it's just words….words…words.  :)
  • Like conspiracy theory
  • Have low expectations for this movie

Put it in the queue!

However, if you:

  • Think vampire theatre should be elegant, seductive and beautiful…not peppered with bumbling humans and weighted down by a boring script.
  • Can't stand the idea of Hamlet (the man himself) being kind of a tool who thinks he's a standup comedian.
  • Aren't in the mood for 90 minutes of ridiculousness

Don't put it in the queue.

Written by Jennifer Venson