Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to discuss what is surely the greatest artistic achievement of our time, the James Franco-helmed Mother May I Sleep With Danger? remake featuring lesbian vampires. Why does this movie exist? Who let James Franco do such a thing? Do we as a society deserve this movie? Why was Tori Spelling so OK with playing the mom? These are the questions which vexed my colleague Erin and I as we sat down to enjoy the Citizen Kane of Lifetime original cinema. What follows is a tale of heartache, a tale of lust, a tale of maternal instinct and ultimately a tale of straight cis dudes being the absolute worst.
We begin our fair tale in an idyllic suburban town, where a convertible full of hot goth chicks pulls up to a nondescript house. A smoky-eyed blonde in a sparkly crop top, leather pants and a leather jacket jumps over the side of the car and stalks to the front door in slow motion, smirking and full of predatory purpose.
Erin: ohhh this car looks like my kind of gals
The next time we see our blonde friend (I think she might be named Violet), she’s lighting candles and assuring someone on the phone that she’s taking care of some urgent task tonight. Enter Pearl, Violet’s date for the evening, all decked out in a cute floral dress. Pearl thought they were going to the movies to see New Moon tonight (seriously), but Violet has other ideas. She awkwardly hands Pearl a ring with romantic dialogue so convincing it may as well be a scene from The Room, and then moves the party upstairs so Pearl (who is apparently a photographer) can take pictures of Violet posing and stretching on the bed.
Stef: they had plans and this girl is just like
no sorry you’re taking pictures of me also here is some super unceremonious jewelry
Erin: is that what you ask girls when you bring them home with you, “did you bring your camera so you can take photos of me”
Stef: i don’t take girls home because i’m scared of my roommate and also there are no girls
It’s not long before the photo session turns into a makeout session, and Violet decides that now would be the perfect time to lay down some hard truths. She asks Pearl, “Do you love me?” and Pearl says that she does. Violet follows that up by telling Pearl that she’s a “night walker,” that she sucks blood, that she’s a vampire. Also, hey Pearl, Violet would like to turn you into a vampire so you guys can feed off each other and be together for all eternity! Uh, five minutes ago you guys were maybe going to the movies and now you’re talking about eternity? How many dates have these women been on? Is this Tinder?
Erin: DO YOU LOVE ME
Stef: i hope this is a first date
Erin: the new UHAUL
Stef: I’M A NIGHT WALKER
Erin: “i didn’t choose to be like this” classic vampire lifestyle choice
Stef: WE WILL HAVE THIS ETERNAL BOND FOREVER
this is actually how my first dates go, yes
Pearl understandably gets a little freaked out, especially when Violet starts yammering about how the night walkers chose Pearl. She tries to run, but Violet follows her, aggressively and desperately. A struggle ensues, and Pearl eventually somehow manages to drive a stake through Violet’s heart, but not before Violet’s taken a solid bite out of Pearl’s neck. It’s a big moment for femme vampire visibility. Before she finally dies, Violet informs Pearl that she’s a night walker now, and now she’s gonna thirst (girl, are you ever). It is the messiest lesbian breakup I’ve ever seen, and I just watched the newest season of Orange Is The New Black.
Pearl runs out into the woods, falls into a pile of leaves and begins twitching and screaming. After 25 seconds (I counted), she has glowing eyes and fangs, and as she hisses and snarls into the air she whips around to see three rejected extras from a Rasputina video wandering towards her with a tied-up white guy for her to feast on. The head vampire kind of looks like Jenny Schecter. Pearl is immediately on board.
Erin: i better go run through the woods alone
Stef: I’M CHANGINGGGG
no this is what happens in a WEREWOLF movie
Erin: PICK ONE
she’s ready for her cut-off vest now plz
is this how being a vampire works
Erin: here’s a man you can feast on and hate
now that you are a lesbian
Stef: are there any butch vampires
she’s so on board!!
in twilight it took a while
Erin: that’s how it works stef
that’s recruitment at its best
Stef: i wanna know if the vampires have a group text
“gonna convert my tinder date tonight, can you be in the woods at 8:15”
Erin: only on snapchat
so it’ll disappear
Stef: no evidence
Erin: “we meet at 9”
*replays for good measure*
We leap five years into the future, just in time to meet Leah, a bland blonde college student played by Vincent D’Onofrio’s daughter. She’s taking a class called Vampire Sexuality (a requirement for her major, which is probably also Vampire Sexuality), taught by THE GUY WHO PLAYS THE STALKER IN THE ORIGINAL MOVIE. You’d think this would be the most James Franco moment of the whole movie, but I assure you, there’s more to come. Anyway, Erin notes that all the women in this class look like they own juice bars, and I’m delighted that the professor ends the class by telling the students, “Be careful of vampires, goodbye!” That’s the kind of subtle foreshadowing I look for in my Lifetime movies.
Outside, we meet Bob, a boring white guy who clearly has a crush on a visibly indifferent Leah. I can just tell from the way he looks at Leah that this guy is going to be murdered by a jealous lesbian vampire, and that it’s going to be particularly gruesome. I will continue to dream about Bob’s demise for the remainder of this film.
Anyway, Leah has to go because she has to audition for her school play! Leah is very interested in auditioning for the titular role in James Franco’s production of Macbeth. James Franco plays the drama teacher who observes the audition process in much the same way I believe James Franco observed the making of his own movie. As Leah is reading her lines, Jenny Schecter comes up behind her, runs her hands down Leah’s hips and breathes on her neck, which everybody seems totally OK with. The other two vampire ladies pout and stare hungrily as Jenny slides her hands up Leah’s shirt. I’ll be in my bunk.
It’s been a big day for Leah, who pops home just in time to chat with her Cool Mom Tori Spelling about the super amazing Halloween bash Tori’s throwing at their local country club. Leah uses this mother-daughter bonding time as an opportunity to inform her mom that she’ll be bringing a date home for dinner tomorrow – somebody special. Cool Mom Tori is kvelling. Cool Mom Tori only looks about four years older than her daughter.
Back at school, there’s another photo shoot taking place – this one starring Leah, and shot by our old buddy Pearl. Now that she’s a night walker, Pearl has taken to wearing heavy pink eyeshadow and liquid liner, black nail polish, tight jeans and motorcycle boots. She’s also dating Leah, and apparently has been for a while, although their relationship isn’t really explained or quantified in any real way. Mostly they just make out a lot, and Pearl takes photos. In an effort to drive home how ambiguous and boring their relationship is, Pearl gives Leah a ring – the same one Violet had given to her. Do you know any lesbians who are this casual about their girlfriends randomly giving them rings that don’t mean anything?
Stef: this is very art school
this is like claire fisher 101
Erin: i’m becoming a photographer
for this very reason
As the couple are cavorting around the photography studio, Leah gets a text letting her know that she scored the coveted role of Macbeth in the school play. Pearl reacts with a tepid smile and a hug. Feelin’ really good about these two and their supportive creative partnership. Although he’d also auditioned for the role, Creepy Bob was cast as Macduff. Speaking of creepy Bob, he and his friends are walking around campus when they spot Leah and Pearl kissing. Bob’s friends basically react like “Oh well, at least you tried, man,” which is not in my experience how straight men react to watching femme girls making out, but alright James Franco. Creepy Bob looks pained.
In a dark alley, Jenny Schecter and associates gather around Pearl and start pressuring her about turning Leah into a night walker. Pearl is taking her sweet time bringing the whole thing up with Leah because like, look how Pearl was brought into this vampire world. Jenny Schecter reminds Pearl that she owes them. There is no real reasoning behind the urgency of this situation, something about true love, blah blah blah. Everyone’s makeup is amazing, and everyone is wearing a great choker from the 90s.
Back at Cool Mom Tori’s, it’s time for the big dinner with Pearl! Since Leah didn’t exactly bother explaining that she was dating a woman, Cool Mom Tori is a little confused at first by Pearl’s presence. They talk about boring stuff, school, photography, Leah’s father’s grisly murder a couple of Thanksgivings ago. Cool Mom Tori slips out to get dessert and that’s when she notices the level of affection between her daughter and the dark princess of the underworld. There is double-handed face touching and a hand kiss, all the universally recognized lesbian sex acts. Cool Mom Tori is not down. Her reasons for not being on board with her daughter’s sexuality are never elaborated upon in any actual way, but Cool Mom Tori is definitely not down.
Back at Vampire Sexuality University, the gang are rehearsing for Macbeth, and the three vampire queens have been cast as the witches. Um, I don’t know a lot about Shakespeare but their version involves heavy breathing, writhing all over Leah and sticking their fingers in her mouth. James Franco sits in the front row, bemusedly. I would have signed up for a lot more extracurriculars if I knew this was what theatre was like.
Bob watches from the sidelines as the vampire high priestesses rub themselves all over the object of his desire. He looks miserable. He waits outside the theatre and asks Leah what he has to do to win her affections. Leah politely informs him that she’s seeing someone else and not interested, but Bob demands to know who. He lets it slip that he saw her kissing Pearl, and when Leah is creeped out by this information, Bob responds by grabbing her arm and screaming, “I’M NOT A CREEP!” Exactly what a creep would say, Bob. I can’t wait til Bob is exsanguinated by Jenny Schecter and company.
Creepy Bob decides the least creepy thing he could do would be to stalk Pearl, so he hides behind a wall and eavesdrops on her conversation with her vampire sisters. Jenny gently pressures Pearl about changing Leah, then invites her on a hunting excursion the following day. They share a slow, passionate kiss. Creepy Bob’s eyes bug out of his head.
Erin: “we’re going hunting tomorrow”
Stef: why this is a bad thing
or why this guy is gonna want to protect her from it
this sounds like the best vampire coven of all time
Erin: live and let live
Stef: jenny schecter is not fucking around
Erin: let me live my best life
Moved by a noble desire to protect a woman who is in no way interested in him, Bob decides to call Cool Mom Tori and let her know what’s up. He doesn’t know about the vampires in any way, shape or form, but he knows something’s up; might as well be drugs. Creepy Bob tells Cool Mom Tori that he’s pretty sure Pearl and her friends are mixed up in some kind of drug-related situation. With no other evidence, Cool Mom Tori confronts Leah about her drug-addled girlfriend, and Leah correctly responds by telling her mom that she’s being ridiculous. Undeterred, Tori calls the university and asks for more information about Pearl. Funny thing is, nobody named Pearl Thompson is enrolled there. How did the other three get cast in a play? If Twilight taught me anything, it’s that vampires go to school all the time.
Pearl, Jenny and the other two (I really wish they had lines, or even names) storm into a frat party with a great clatter of bondage necklaces and combat boots. It takes them about .2 seconds to locate a date rapist taking advantage of a too-wasted girl in a corner. You know what’s coming. We all do.
The vampire coven wait until the frat bro brings his date upstairs to a secluded bedroom. They descend upon the date rapist, slit his wrists open and drink his blood. When they’re done, they carry the girl on the bed out into the hallway and disappear in a hurry. They’re ethical vampires, you see – only taking out men who deserve it. Heroes, really.
I don’t remember much about the original Mother May I Sleep With Danger? and I suspect I’m confusing an awful lot of it with Fear, but I’m pretty sure it was about a stalker who committed identity theft. In this movie, Tori Spelling is a concerned mother who breaks into her daughter’s school, only to find.. her daughter’s girlfriend’s shitty art school photos, black and white shots of the two girls kissing and a couple of arty vampire images. Honestly, every photography freshman probably has a file cabinet’s worth of those, but Tori flips out. She forbids Leah to keep seeing Pearl, which goes about as well as you’d expect it to. Pearl and Leah end up having yet another friggin’ photo shoot. You just know that Pearl’s photography professor rolls her eyes every time she goes through Pearl’s film and is like, yeah, Pearl, we get it.
Erin: IT’S ART GOD MOM
Stef: WE ARE LITERALLY IN ART SCHOOL
Erin: yikes man
Stef: she has literally no reason to think she is dangerous other than she saw some shitty art school photos
Erin: “fake blood???”
Stef: “i’m pretty sure she’s a vampire because she took some black and white photos”
Erin: where’s my little girl i knew
Stef: and she hasn’t even told leah about it?
Erin: “yo we have to do damage control”
Stef: “look wholesome on this bridge”
Erin: no let’s take pic near the dumpster
Stef: i like that in this fictional city, men see women kissing and are just like “oh, let’s leave them alone”
Erin: or call their mom
i wish more dudes called my mom about my girlfriends to tell her they were vampires
i could have really used that in hindsight
Leah is happy and in love, and we are treated to a sunshiny montage of her smiling while sitting amongst some flowers. For juxtaposition’s sake, we also see Pearl meeting up with the Sisters of Mercy in the dead of night. They chide Pearl for falling in love and demand once again that she turn Leah into a night walker. Given her history, it’s understandable why Pearl might want to wait a few months before she busts out the big secret, but the ol’ gang have no time for excuses. They pressure poor Pearl until she agrees to turn Leah during her date that evening.
Guys, Pearl and Leah don’t ever go on any cool or interesting dates. They walk around, Pearl takes six rolls of film, they make out a little. It’s fine I guess, but maybe sometimes a lady would like to get some pad Thai or go to a museum or something? They’re trailed not only by Jenny Schecter and her disciples, but also by Cool Mom Tori.
The two lovebirds wander through the forest from that TV show Lost and Delirious before settling under a tree to make out. Finally, Pearl can’t take it anymore, and she levels with Leah: she’s a vampire, she sucks blood, and even though she tries to only kill abusive men, this is still a pretty big part of her life. It’s a lot for Leah to take in, and she ends up running away, completely overwhelmed. As soon as she’s out of sight, the rest of the vampire coven appear and inform Pearl sternly that if she doesn’t turn Leah soon, they will.
Stef: erin ok what would you do
if this girl told you this
Erin: i’d be like ok but
is this a package deal
like do you come with those three other girls
if not, dealbreaker
Stef: why is it such a big deal for her to turn leah like right now?
i don’t think i understand the one true love thing
in life, or in this movie
Suddenly we’re back in Vampire Sexuality 101, and the teacher is talking about poetry while Leah daydreams about making out with Pearl. She’s wearing a beanie. The professor calls on her and she stammers something about giving into the goblin’s seduction, tasting the forbidden fruit. I think we all know where this is going. As soon as she’s outta class, she calls Pearl and tells her she’s ready to meet up so they can process their feelings together.
At rehearsal, it looks like opening night must be pretty close. I say this because although Leah and her costars are not in costume, things are apparently getting realistic enough that the witches throw several buckets of fake blood on Leah. James Franco never gets out of his chair throughout the entire movie.
Leah meets Pearl in a graveyard that Pearl says she comes to sometimes to get away from it all. Brooding love interests in movies always have a place like this.
Leah’s decided that Pearl can’t help who she is, they declare their love for one another, and then obviously they fuck in a graveyard because that’s the kind of movie we’re watching. While this is happening, Pearl gently explains what it’s like to be a night walker, how she’s constantly tortured by her bloodlust, how miserable and guilty she feels all the time. She just happens to let it slip that if a night walker finds their one true love, the two of them can feed off one another (eliminating the need to kill innocent people) and live together forever. That sounds great to Leah, but Pearl is reluctant to wish that kind of life upon someone she cares about. The mood shifts pretty swiftly as Leah starts demanding that Pearl change her and Pearl realizes that Jenny Schecter and the gang are coming to change her themselves. Pearl tells Leah to run, and Leah takes off into the night.
It’s time for Cool Mom Tori’s super amazing Halloween party, which is the only thing we really know about Cool Mom Tori as a human being. Leah gets all decked out as some kind of masquerade flapper, and the first familiar face she sees is Creepy Bob’s. Creepy Bob is dressed as a vampire, because he heard Leah was into those. Oh, also he slips a pill into her champagne.
Stef: what is leah studying in school? vampire sexuality?
Erin: what could go wrong at a masquerade party
Stef: like she honestly took a fucking course in this shit
pearl and the other girls aren’t even in that class
maybe they took it last semester
Erin: hey leah it’s me macduff
i’m also a vampire now
Stef: oh yessss this is how bob dies
so wait her mom throws really cool halloween parties?
for college kids?
what a cool mom
Bob pays Leah some lip service about how cool he is with her having a girlfriend and how he really just wants her to be happy, and Leah dances off and finds Pearl, who’s wearing her finest Atomic Kitten A-Camp cat mask. It’s not long before she starts feeling woozy, and as she begins losing consciousness she becomes very aware of Jenny Schecter and her minions gathering around her in the creepiest papier-mâché cat masks I have ever seen. You’d think they were coming after Leah, but instead they hold Pearl back as Creepy Bob sneaks up behind Leah and drags her off into the night.
Creepy Bob takes Leah out to a field to “get some air,” and it isn’t long before he starts forcing himself upon her. I am at the edge of my seat, waiting for Bob to be destroyed by a vengeful Pearl. Maybe she’ll snap his neck first. After what seems like forever, the vampire coven finally appear in all their finest Hot Topic corsets and begin feeding upon gross, awful Creepy Bob. Jenny Schecter breaks from the pack and climbs on top of Leah, baring her fangs. She’s just about to take a bite out of the helpless mortal when the feeding frenzy is interrupted by the cries of Cool Mom Tori, who’s searching for her mysteriously absent daughter.
Erin: i want to have a cd of bob’s screams being feasted on by these women
like whale sounds
but his screams
The vampires disappear quickly into the night, leaving Bob’s quivering, bloody body next to an incapacitated Leah, who can only stare helplessly as her mother runs towards her. By the time Cool Mom Tori finds her, Bob is mysteriously missing, and I wonder if the vampires dragged his body into a tree like a pack of sexy, leather-clad jaguars.
The next day, Leah wakes up feeling like a pile of fried garbage. She tells her mom that Creepy Bob roofied her and Cool Mom Tori accepts this information as readily as she accepts any information, really. Even though she was almost sexually assaulted and eaten by a pack of vampires, Leah insists upon going to school because it’s opening night!!! Tori wants Leah to stay home and rest, but Leah tells her mom that she can’t protect Leah her whole life just because her dad was murdered – and anyway, she has to go perform some Shakespeare with a team of sullen goth chicks in pink eyeshadow. The show must go on.
When she gets to the theatre, Jenny and company sneak up behind Leah for some unnecessary dialogue about how they definitely weren’t at the country club party in horrifying cat masks. It’s an excuse for a lot of smoldering and smirking, while Leah looks uncomfortable.
As James Franco gives the cast a pep talk to get them pumped for opening night, Creepy Bob appears, looking creepier than ever in some Urban Decay pink eyeshadow. He stares hungrily at Leah. I don’t know a lot about Macbeth, but the cast all look like they’re dressed for Wumpscut night at the local goth club. Onstage, Bob is more sinister than usual, really owning his character more than he had in previous rehearsals. As Leah and Bob watch Jenny Schecter’s “out, damn spot” monologue from backstage, Bob whispers to Leah that he’s looking forwards to killing her on stage. Erin thinks Bob looks like Willem Dafoe now.
Finally, the swordfight scene is upon us, and it appears that Bob and Leah are performing with actual swords because college theatre is Legit. Bob breaks character to tell Leah he always liked her, but since she rejected him, she now deserves to die. Typical toxic masculine bullshit. His eyes glow red as he tells her, “I’m gonna turn you into a night walker, bitch!” Did someone have “the talk” with Bob last night? Why does he know so much? Why would Jenny and her cohorts bother turning this guy when they hate date rapists so much? What’s happening?
Stef: BOB IS GONNA DIE IT’S GONNA BE SO GOOD
this is gonna be the best college play ever
Erin: i hope there’s a beheading
Stef: gotta be stabbed through the heart with a stake
like when pearl killed her vampire gf
gonna be the most dramatic college shakespeare play of all time
Leah runs off stage and out into the night, with Bob, Jenny and the Vamps close behind. The audience stare awkwardly at the empty stage. James Franco gets out of his seat like, “Uh, anyway, thanks for coming out guys, that’s Macbeth!” and nobody seems al that shocked because like, they did willingly buy tickets to see a James Franco production of Macbeth.
Leah runs until she ends up in the only logical place she could possibly go (the cemetery), and she’s quickly surrounded by gloating, hissing vampires. Just before they can take a bite out of her, Cool Mom Tori comes running to save her daughter. Bob is able to take Tori down with minimal effort, as Leah cries, “What’s he gonna do!?” Leah, we’ve sort of already been through this. Just as Jenny Schecter is about to end this whole thing once and for all… IT’S PEARL! Pearl arrived just in time to save the day and she’s here to take down her vampire sisters one by one, in the bloodiest, goriest way possible. As her coup de grace, she gouges Jenny Schecter’s eyes out with her bare hands while Leah smashes a gargoyle over Bob’s head to get him off her mom. I can’t believe that’s a sentence I just typed. This movie is incredible.
Erin: what happens when a vampire bites a vampire
Stef: nothing i think?
these vampires say bitch a lot
Erin: they should say m’lady or something
Stef: I’M GONNA TURN YOU INTO A NIGHT WALKER M’LADY
even creepier tbh
We were both really excited for Cool Mom Tori to become a Cool Vampire Mom, hopefully with more progressive politics and a penchant for throwing even cooler Halloween parties, but Cool Mom Tori is dead. It’s an unceremonious end to a character we didn’t know nearly well enough. RIP. Pearl and Leah mourn for a minute or two, but finally Pearl ushers an inconsolable Leah away. They leave a bunch of bloody bodies in the middle of a graveyard, no big deal. Time passes, mist blows around, some of the bodies move a little bit so we all know they’re not really dead. Our fateful lovebirds don’t know that, though, and they sit under a tree to discuss the events of the evening.
Stef: so erin
on what date do you tell someone you’re a night walker
like do you think “i love you” should come first or
Erin: 3rd date (16th photo shoot)
and for you
Stef: i like to kick off the first date with it, right before i tell them we can feed off each other for eternity
i don’t usually get a lot of second dates though
Leah wants to turn! Pearl doesn’t want to! We’ve seen Bella and Edward have this argument a thousand times. Anyway, in the end it’s the only way Pearl can really keep Leah safe, so she agrees to change her into a night walker. Way to go, kids!
Erin: is this chelsea wolfe ushering us into this scene
Stef: i wish chelsea wolfe did the entire soundtrack
it was james iha
JAMES FUCKING IHA
Stef: i just shazaamed that song
it’s “leah and pearl” by james iha feat. claire acey
IT’S CALLED LEAH AND PEARL
Erin: wow dude
Stef: “give it to me.. eternity”
Erin: OH GOD INITIATION
Stef: “ok, lay down”
“does it hurt?” “yeah you gotta flail around on some wood chips”
Erin: hers seems more like an orgasm than everyone elses?
Stef: true, must be true love
“ok it’s over, now we can adopt a rescue dog”
After a lot of spasms and heavy breathing, Leah is gifted with a pair of fangs of her very own. They cuddle under a tree, ready to face their new lives together.
One year later, our favorite convertible pulls into a dark alley and four babes in skintight skeleton jumpsuits and masks hop out… only one of them is… wait, what the fuck?! Is that Bob?! Shouldn’t these guys all be dead?! How do vampires work?
Stef: please tell me vampire tori is throwing amazing halloween parties
so bob got inducted into the hot vampire crew?????!?!?!?
bob IS a date rapist that makes no sense
Erin: “i’m a cool mom” *slashes everyone’s throats*
Stef: bob was like “we should basically be heath ledger’s joker” and they were all like “oh cool idea bob”
Erin: right lets not roll deep with him
Stef: what were they doing all year
did leah get a good grade in her vampire sexuality in literature course
what’s going on with pearl’s photography, is she working on a new series
The sexy vampires (and fucking Bob) pull their masks off and gaze hungrily around the country club Halloween party, now thrown annually in honor of Cool Mom Tori, its greatest champion. They’re a bit scarred up, but none the worse for wear – not even Jenny Schecter, who doesn’t have any eyes. She still looks incredible. They vamp together in slow motion, licking their lips, and then disperse to dance among the living in search of willing prey. We never hear from Pearl or Leah ever again. The last shot is of Bob, smiling a knowing, sinister grin into the camera. There are no consequences in the whole world for this terrible, terrible man.
That’s it. That’s the movie. Thanks, James Franco.
i wanted bob to die
instead he got to live out my dream of rolling with the lesbian vampire coven forever and going to cool parties in convertibles with them?
Erin: and now he’s the undead
Stef: no justice, no peace
Erin: losing it
also where did leah and pearl go?
DID THEY ALSO DIE A TERRIBLE LESBIAN DEATH
Stef: oh probably immediately after this they all died except bob
and then he got an A in the vampire sexuality course
and cast as the lead in the next school play
and got a scholarship
Erin: bob becomes the producer of this sequel
Stef: so tori died in vain
she never even figured out what was happening
Erin: wow they really played her like that
Stef: tori don’t settle for less
you are a queen