Friends, when doing the research a couple of weeks back for The Visionaries Pop Culture Retrorama podcast – one of the things I stumbled on was another television show created by Abrams/Gentile called Van-Pires. I certainly had no memory of this series that was first aired on September 20th of 1997 on what appears to be both FOX and The WB affliate stations. A bizarre computer animated/live action hybrid that by all accounts appears to have been trying to break into the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers age category. Van-Pires was about four teenagers who were hanging out at Sunrise Salvage, an old junkyard when an odd meteor falls from the sky and crashes among the collection of wrecked and abandoned vehicles. As the meteor is about to hit where they are currently standing Rev (Melissa Marsala), Snap (Garikayi Mutambirwa), Axle (Jason Hayes), and Nuke (Marc Schwarz) seek shelter in separate vehicles to avoid the impact. The meteor itself hits and rolls through the vast assortment of rusting cars and trucks and emergency vehicles that have been dumped and sold off. Then the strange glow from the meteor spreads to a handful of vehicles and brings them to life – the titular Van-Pires who must feed on gas to survive. The four teenagers have also been changed by their proximity to the fallen meteor as they emerge from their hiding spots to find they have been transformed into humanoid vehicles – dubbing themselves the Motor-Vaters!
So it is the Motor-Vaters versus the nightmare machines that make up the collection of Van-Pires – with Tracula being voiced by Jonathan Davis… yes… the frontman for Korn. The other three evil sentient and transformed vehicles include Ambula, Cardaver, and Automaniac – it would appear that Alucart is the Son of Tracula and joins with the Motor-Vaters to stop his Father. In addition there is Gypsy and Van He’ll Sing – the former is a transformed cab that offers advice to the Motor-Vaters with the latter owing Sunrise Salvage who acts as a sort of mentor to the teenagers. Both the evil Van-Pires and Motor-Vaters must apparently avoid the sunlight… but at least the teenagers can transform back into their human forms if need be.
I’m not going to say that after watching that clip I thought that Van-Pires was good but I have certainly seen a lot worse. I find it incredibly fascinating that I never knew about the show itself and overall it works better as a curiosity – although I should add that some of the music in the show was composed by The Who’s John Entwistle!