Thursday, March 16, 2006

Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter – review

Release Date: 2001

Director: Lee Gordon Demarbre

Contains Spoilers

The first thing to say about this movie is that it is a fun, amusing flick that – despite what you might think by the title – I can’t see giving, in any way, offence to Christians. In fact the way Christ is portrayed is in a very positive light and, given the role that Christian Iconography plays in the vampire genre, it seems only logical that someone would take the next step and pit Christ himself against the undead. The film itself is a no-budget, kung fu movie with vampires and lesbians.

The premise sees daywalking vampires preying on lesbians and the church calls in the one man who can save them from the undead, Jesus Christ (Phil Caracas). The reason that the vampires are hunting lesbians is to allow a mad scientist (Josh Grace) to steal their skin, grafting it onto the vampires so they can walk in daylight. Why choose that section of society? As far as the vampires are concerned they are deviant and won’t be missed. Jesus’ retort, “There’s nothing deviant about love.”

The fight scenes in the film are almost laughable, but come across as so batman circa the 60s that they have a charm to them that is almost palpable – despite a high level of violence and gore, including the use of intestines as nun-chakas.

The film has some marvelous concepts and visuals as well. At the head of the film, chief vampiress Maxine Shreck (Murielle Varhelyi) feeds upon a nurse. She then steals the nurse’s car, stepping over the prone body. From the car she leans across, wipes some blood from her victim and then licks it from her finger. The imagery portrayed at that moment is actually quite powerful.

A further scene with Shreck in it that was excellently shot was when she fed upon Jesus’ sidekick, Mary Magnum (Maria Moulton). The visual just seemed to work so well.

One stand out moment occurs during a mass fight in a jazz club, that seemed almost as though we had stepped into a low budget, non-slick “From Dusk ‘til Dawn” (1995). Within this scene we get the first ever vampire staking, that I am aware of, by someone sat on a toilet with their trousers around their ankles!

In the film we hear that vampirism is a quantum infection, taking the form of a virus, bacteria or fungal infection dependant on the observer. We are then told that as light is both waves and particles, perhaps this is why vampires don’t reflect. It’s complete technobabble, but somehow it works.

There are some logical problems with the movie, though I guess I’d have been shocked if there wasn’t. I kept thinking, as I watched, about the iconography of the cross and if the symbol of Christ on the cross is so painful to vampires then how can they stand being near Jesus himself. Then, in a pure low grade Van Helsing moment, Jesus pulls two windscreen wipers from a derelict car and crosses them to ward of chief vampire, Johnny Golgotha (Ian Driscoll). Now Golgotha does, eventually, pull the cross from his hands, but surely the presence of the man himself would have been enough. Yet the climax of the movie sees Jesus impaled through the chest by his own stake, which, when removed, causes a vampire slaying light to pour forth – the divine essence of Christ is within him and not without. Jesus then resurrects some of the vampires, but in their human form and seems, himself, none the worse for his brush with the stake.

Incidentally, did I mention that it’s a musical and has a rather large built “saint” in a wrestling mask! Oh I also forgot to mention that the film is probably the first vampire movie to feature holy beer rather than holy water.

I watched this movie with low expectations. I expected low budget and awful effects, I didn’t expect to see iconic scenes buried within the movie, nor did I expect to enjoy it even a quarter as much as I did. With the caveat that this has no budget what-so-ever, and some of the worst voice looping I’ve seen for a while, I’ll happily give this 7 out of 10 as the actual content of the film drags it above the concerns born of zero budget.

The imdb page is here.

1 comment:

Mateo said...

I'm not a b-movie fan, but I laughed out loud at this review so I think I have to see this now. My favorite part:

"The reason that the vampires are hunting lesbians is to allow a mad scientist (Josh Grace) to steal their skin, grafting it onto the vampires so they can walk in daylight."