The Little Vampire is an almost completely forgotten mid 80’s Canadian kid’s TV show that used to be shown on ITV back in, you guessed it, the 80’s. Completely forgotten that is until I pulled it from the recesses of my mind’s eyes and resurrected it for little to no audience.
The reason this shows sticks with me so much is that in my teens whilst sifting through old VHS tapes to find one I could record over I put one on that had been recorded sometime in the mid-80’s. On it was several old retro ads, various partially recorded movies, TV shows and about 10 mins of a Little Vampire episode. This was sometime in the mid 90’s, so I’m now being nostalgic about a time I was being nostalgic 20 years ago for a show that had been on 10 years previously. Decipher that one.
Anyway the show had pretty low production values even for the 80’s, everyone sounded like they had weird American accents (turned out that’s what Canadian accents sound like) and it included some familiar faces such veteran British actor Michael Gough who would go onto to play Alfred in Tim Burton’s Batman a few years later, as well as the German actor Gert Fröbe who is best remembered as the Baron from ‘Chitty, Chitty Bang, Bang’ and Goldfinger from the Bond movie………’Goldfinger’.
The plot was pretty simple. 10-year-old Anton lives with his parents in glamorous downtown Edmonton in Alberta, Canada. Things are ticking over quite nicely for Anton until one night a stranger calls into his bedroom in the form of a levitating adolescent vampire called Rüdiger who is actually 146 years old and lives with his sister Anna (also child-sized) and his extended family in a crypt situated in a nearby graveyard. Anton’s understandable initial instinct is to run like hell but Rüdiger is actually quite an intriguing character and convinces Anton that not only will he not kill him and drink his blood, as is the standard vampire MO, but that indeed they should even hang and get up to all kind of family-friendly mischief for 13 episodes which was the duration of the show’s one and only series. In that time the two enjoy many adventures which mostly revolve around them trying to suppress the vampires existence from Anton’s parents and his pain in the ass schoolmate Teddy Cuthbert whilst Rüdiger and his sister also go to great lengths to introduce Anton to vampire culture whilst trying not to reveal to the rest of the bloodsuckers that he’s actually a walking lunch (human). Oh and Gert Fröbe ‘s Johann Gurrmeyer who’s basically a low rent incarnation of Abraham Van Helsing also
sneaks about trying to hunt the vampires down usually to little or no avail.
The show was typical of many in 80’s kid’s TV programmes in that it was innocent whilst also knowing and had a really big heart to counter out the somewhat ropey performances and piss-poor effects. It also featured a pretty sensationally and criminally underrated leading performance from Joel Dacks as Rüdiger von Schlotterstein. I’m actually being series about that. You can catch some of the episodes on YouTube and the kid had chops. He was also one of the few characters who didn’t resort to saying Anton’s name every 2 mins which becomes pretty monotonous after a while. ‘Anton, Anton.’ Alas, Dacks proved a one-hit wonder and didn’t appear in anything else. He bears a striking resemblance to the kid from BIG before he becomes Tom Hanks but that is actually David Moscow who ended up actually having an acting career. Dacks needed a better agent.
The show apparently was a co-German production which would explain why any online research on it leads to most references to it being in German as seen in the opening title sequence shown above and the DVD cover. I have a feeling it was far more popular in Germany than it ever was in any English speaking country.
One other thing I remember distinctively about that old VHS tape which led me to remember The Little Vampire show in the first place, apart from the recording of the hilarious Superman III from the halfway point onwards, was the old Cherry Pepsi commercial that played during the break. Thanks to the sheer grace of God and YouTube I found it. And let me tell you I actually felt my virginity growing back as I watched it: