Revisiting “Lesbian Vampire Killers”: James Corden’s First Career Misstep

By on March 23, 2015

Tonight is James Corden’s debut as the new host of CBS’s The Late Late Show, taking over for the departed Craig Ferguson (who we miss terribly!).

The 36-year old British comedian and actor — it was at the National theatre that Corden had his big break, in 2006, playing Timms in Alan Bennett’s school boy dram The History Boyshas been doing a lot of promotion for the lead up to tonight’s big event, even painting his own billboard here in L.A. (Corden’s show, like Ferguson’s, will be shot in at CBS’s Television City studios).

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Corden isn’t too well-known in the U.S. just yet, and he’s certainly never hosted a TV talk show before, which is a difficulty even for Americans to attempt. But just the same he’s busied himself with a variety of projects over the last nearly ten years. After History Boys, Corden gained a wider audience by starring in a romantically-themed Brit sitcom Gavin & Stacey Gavin & Stacey , which he also co-created — it ran for three relatively unsuccessful seasons, 2007-2010 — and then he launched a sketch-comedy show, a sports panels show, and even emceed award shows, like the BRIT Awards (on three separate occasions). More recently, he’s appeared on the big screen, co-starring in recent films such as Into the Woods with Meryl Streep, and Begin Again with Keira Knightley. Corden may also be familiar to Broadway fans: He won a Best Actor Tony Award in 2012 for One Man, Two Guvnors. Beyond that, he’s still relatively unknown, and expect him to mention that tonight a lot.

Despite his success across the pond, as they say, apparently his TV bosses at The Eye are a bit worried that his jokes won’t translate to U.S. audiences. We’ll see about that tonight, perhaps (be sure to program your DVRs ahead of time if you’re not planning on staying up after Late Night with David Letterman). The affable Tom Hanks and the enchanting Mila Kunis are Corden’s first guests. We think they’re both a wise choice, particularly Hanks, considering how his easy laugh and his knack for telling good stories will no doubt help to settle Corden’s first-night nerves somewhat, and we’re sure the make the most of talking to the lovely Mila Kunis, who is apparently still trying to get an audience to see Wachowski Brothers’ Jupiter Ascending, which opened last month. Corden will be able to talk with Hanks about any number of new projects (we’d like to hear about Hanks’s involvement with several ongoing HBO mini-series projects, for instance), and possibly he may learn and thing or two about what to ask, and what not to ask, based on what happens over the course of this first week behind the new desk.

For instance, I’m sure Hanks doesn’t want to be reminded of his box office failures or even disappointing debuts over the course of his career (a list that would certainly include The Bonfire of the Vanities, or Cloud Atlas, or even Larry Crowne, frankly). So, Corden should possibly stay away from those, as he is no stranger to ridiculously awful films he’s appeared in himself, like his first horrid career misstep, the 2009 comedic horror flick Lesbian Vampire Killers.

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The movie — a bawdy low-budget Hammer Horror spoof, actually, not an actual horror movie per se — was written by Stewart Williams and Paul Hupfield (“Dude, Where’s My Movie Quiz?”) and directed by Phil Claydon — was released on released on DVD/Blu-ray in early August 2009, and screened on what we presume to be a few handful of scrrens in the U.S. on December 29, 200 —  as Vampire Killers, naturally, due to the fact that some skittish film U.S. film distributors refused to show any movie with the dreaded word “lesbian” in the title.

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The movie’s plot is relatively ridiculous, as you might expect: Corden and Mathew Horne star as Fletch and Jimmy, two clueless blokes from London who, looking for adventure, find themselves in a strange country hamlet called Cragwich, where they end up getting chased by lesbian vampires, before they end up becoming lesbian vampire kilers, er… killers of lesbian vampires is probably the better way to put it, but that doesn’t sort with the title on the poster, does it? Perhaps we have it wrong?

Corden’s character name Fletch, by the way, isn’t a nod to the Chevy Chase movies; he was instead christened with the name because the writers liked a character in a early 70s BBC1 sitcom, Porridge, played by Ronnie Barker (Norman Stanley Fletcher, aka Fletch). Jimmy’s character was similarly named after Jimmy McClaren in Grange Hill, a BBC children’s drama.

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There’s not much more to say about the plot, really. These lesbian vampires die the traditional ways that all vampires do — shot by silver bullets, doused with holy water, or staked through the heart – but note, we’re not talking here about artful sexploitation Euro-trash like Jess Franco’s Vampyros Lesbos (1971), or even The Hunger (1983), Tony Scott’s moody art/horror pastiche which does feature a memorable lesbian sex scene between Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon.

Corden has gone on to say that it was the worst decision he’s made so far in his career and even feels that watching the film would be “too harsh a punishment for prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay” and that it was “a pile of shit.” Have a look at this interview he did for the UK’s Hey You Guys:

But let’s not judge him too harshly for making the crapola cinema — we haven’t seen him hosting The Late, Late Show just yet!

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.