Saturday, March 25, 2006

Midnight Kiss - Review

Release Date: 1993

Director: Joel Bender

Contains spoilers

Bless the Horror Channel (UK), it might show some utter rubbish, but it does allow you to catch vampire movies you might otherwise miss and some of them are pretty good. In this case, however, the film is not the best I have ever seen but it at least had its moments.

The film opens with a woman at a bar, she is being aggressively approached by a sleazy guy and leaves. She is cornered at her car by the drunk, who will not take no for an answer. A priest approaches, though we immediately know by his demeanour that he is in actual fact the vampire (Gregory A Greer). His long blonde hair is scraped back and he has a cross earring in (so we already know that vampires are not effected by the cross in this movie). He is stabbed through the hand by the drunk, picks the guy up and pokes his eyes out. The barman comes out and blasts the vampire in the chest with a shotgun, to no effect. He takes the gun, shoots the barman and then blows his head off. Finally he feeds upon the woman.

It is a very gory opening for what looks and feels like a made for cable TV movie.

The cops come and we discover that the woman is the 6th victim found drained of blood. Carrie Blass (Michelle Owens) arrives on the crime scene. As the film enters a period of exposition we discover that she is an ex-homicide detective who, having made a mistake, is now on the rape crisis squad (it seems the victim was also sexually assaulted by the vampire and thus she gets herself onto the crime scene). Carrie wants to be a homicide detective again. There is a problem with that, however, the lead detective on the case is her ex-husband, Dennis (Michael McMillen), and Captain Nicoletti (Robert Miano), who is the man with the final say, is the worst kind of sleaze – but more on that latter.

Another woman is attacked, this time by the vampire wearing a business suit – it does seem he likes to don costumes. She manages to get to her car. The car alarm is blaring and, in a bizarre moment for such a film, the vampire punches through the hood of the car and rips out the alarm. I assume it was the alarm as, not only does the alarm stop, but she is able to drive away. The police question the girl in the most aggressive of manners, and cannot even get a description out of her. Carrie approaches her and gets her talking, she also notices that the girl has been bitten on her arm.

Carrie tries to get on the case, offering herself as bait for the killer. Eventually, following advice, she goes on a date with Nicoletti as it is the only way she will get reinstated into homicide. He takes her to a strip joint. Now this is one of the problems with the film. All the male cops, with the exception of Dennis who isn’t quite as bad, are portrayed as misogynistic and unsympathetic and, to be frank, they would all have been sacked many years previously. Nicoletti is, of course, the worst. He gives jobs to female cops on the basis of them sleeping with him and takes women to strip clubs. Perhaps the scene was designed to show him in the worst light, but I suspect it was an excuse to show some T&A.

Carrie threatens Nicoletti with internal affairs and gets the job. To cut a long story short, she is eventually bitten, when returning to her apartment, by the vampire (dressed as a milkman) – though she escapes by shooting him point blank in the head. At this point Carrie starts to change. It starts with a dream of a cross, blood and fangs. She wakes goes to the fridge, pours milk which pours as blood and wakes again. This is a problem, the dream is clichéd and illogical. Why a cross? We’ve already established that vampires are not affected by it. The waking into a second dream is a much too used cliché and the pouring milk that is really blood has been done too many times, to best effect by “Thirst” (1979). However, what is nice is that her bite is bleeding and she has blood on her mouth – she fed from her own forearm in her sleep. Carrie’s demeanour changes, she dresses more sexily and becomes increasingly violent. Eventually she realises what is happening.

With the disbelieving Dennis she goes to the morgue to find two of the victims rising – but why did it take so long? Having staked them she leaves Dennis to cut off their heads and goes to the other survivor’s home. There are some scenes of gore through the house and the woman has completely vamped. Another staking and home for a confrontation with the vampire. After a disappointing battle she stakes him, but he pulls it out. So, in quite a unique ending, she stakes him through the neck and he immolates. With him dead Carrie is free from the curse.

Greer does a good job as the vampire. He looks the part and is completely barking mad. There is a scene of him walking down an alley with a neon sign behind him saying “Wacko” – not by accident I feel. There are some nice touches with him, he sleeps in a body bag and has a nice set of double fangs. He is only ever referred to as the vampire, and there is no explanation of his past, which makes him nicely mysterious. It is interesting that IMDB lists “Midnight Kiss” as the only film that both Greer and Owens have appeared in, as these two give the strongest performances it seems a shame, if that is accurate.

The rest of the cast range between average and poor. “These hands are lethal weapons!” cries the first surviving victim posing in a really bad faux kung fu stance when she is attacked. It does, however, lead to the nice retort from the vampire, “So are these.” as he Holds up clawed fingers. The direction is functional, (EDIT, bender edited and did not direct Vlad) but Bender did go on to edit the vastly superior “Vlad” (2003). The main problem with the film is you spend your time trying to dodge the clichés, but it is a nice distraction for 85 minutes. Scoring this I thought of giving it 3, but it was too low, and 4, but I felt that was overly generous so I’ve settled for 3.5 out of 10.

The IMDB page is here.

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