Saturday, August 05, 2006

Vampiyaz - review

Director: Z Winston Brown

Release Date: 2004

Contains Spoilers

I guess I knew I was onto a bad thing with the spelling of vampire as vampiyaz. Yes we are in the world of gangsta rap and hip-hop for this low budget movie that uses something that looks suspiciously like syrup for blood.

The story is fairly all over the place. We begin with two crooks, Jakeem (Richard Carroll Jr) and Khalil (Malik Burke) testing Jakeem’s safe cracking skills. We then cut to a guy with a gun prowling around some other house. A female vampire attacks and kills him. There is no plot reason for this, it is an establishing scene but the main thing it establishes is that, in this flick, vampires make noises like a velociraptor from Jurrasic Park (1993).

The two men raid a house after arguing as Khalil has a gun and firearms are something Jakeem does not do. Unfortunately the owner, who sleeps in a baby outfit, is in and has the key round his neck. Jakeem gets it and cracks the safe, they are about to leave when the owner wakes up and produces a gun. It is a fake, but after insulting Khalil’s intelligence, he finds himself shot dead.

Fleeing the scene the two men argue. They fight whilst driving and hit a girl, later revealed as Stacey (Lila Blake Palmer). Jakeem won’t abandon her and so Khalil shoots him and gets away, as sirens wail. Back in the city Khalil is looking at his haul when a whore tries it on. He tries to shoo her off and she lifts him by the neck (obviously she’s a vampire), so he shoots her and gets into an open car. In the back is another vampire and he is attacked.

We then see Jakeem in the most run down and deserted jail ever and cut forward eight years, when he is released. After being shunned by his family and paying for a whore to hold him we see Jakeem meet Stacey, the girl he ran down and who is now wheelchair bound. He convinces her they went to school together and talks to her, discovering she does not know who ran her down. Now I was thinking here, how? Jakeem has been in jail, presumably for armed robbery (we later discover that is true), and she was run down by him and he was shot next to her. Surely something would have twigged; surely the police would have put two and two together and let her know what was going on?

After seeing Stacey he is approached by Ray (Randy Clarke) who offers him a ‘job’ that will let him get revenge on Khalil. Retiscent at first, Jakeem accepts and is told to go to an address that night. Ray then picks a fly from Jakeem’s shoulder and eats it. Renfield I presume! (He’s actually described as a Renfield later.)

At the house Jakeem is attacked and captured by Kahlil and tied up. Jakeem seems rather too accepting of Khalil’s vampiric nature and is certainly not freaked out by it. Rather he starts to list the vampire’s weaknesses – all the standards, sunlight, crosses, garlic etc. Khalil has a job for him, safecracking to get an amulet that will make him human again. Jakeem is reluctant but, speaking to Stacey again and realising she needs money, agrees to the job.

He and Ray raid the house, Ray, despite being told not to bring a gun, ends up shooting guards which causes Jakeem’s hearing to go. Now this is a little silly as he needs his hearing to crack the safe, which he manages, and yet we then get a long, painful, deaf scene where Jakeem cannot understand what Khalil is saying. Anyhoo, Khalil puts on the amulet, Jakeem shoots him, but the amulet doesn’t make him human rather it makes him invincible so Jakeem steals it back and escapes. He is caught by vampire hunters who are tracking their stolen amulet and, eventually, teams up with them to bring Khalil down.

There is a rather good line when Jakeem wonders why the hunters keep an amulet that will make vampires invincible. It is an insight into bad scripting that wasn’t followed through in the writer’s own script. There is also the blackly amusing scene where Stacey is in her chair wired to an exploding safe that Jakeem doesn’t unlock in time. The worst explosion scene in a long time vaporises her into a cloud of blood, it seems. One wonders how the police failed to notice the amount of gunfire plus the explosion.

The camera work is bad. Looking like it was filmed on camcorder, many of the shots are shaky (sometimes deliberately and sometimes, I fear, not so). The sound isn’t good, whilst Jakeem lost his hearing in a gun fight, I’ve heard more fierce cap guns. Worse, it is not usual for vampires to sound like dinosaurs. The acting is poor. Soundtrack wise, I didn’t enjoy it, but I’m not a fan of hip-hop – those with a taste for it might enjoy it.

Unfortunately, this is a cheap looking, cheap movie. However I have to give something for a couple of the insights that appeared through the movie. 1 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

4 comments:

Mark said...

Sounds terrible. You're a braver man than me, though. The title itself would have been enough to scare me away.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

On the plus side, this was one of the two films I picked up in Spain (the other is subject to a vamp or not? that'll be posted tomorrow) and so was very cheap!

Cheers for the comment Mark

zombiepunk said...

I agree with mark that it does indeed sound terrible, but was, i suppose, inevitable in these times that a vampire hip-hop film would eventually be made. I hope that the same doesn't occur in the UK as the idea of "chav" vampires is indeed frightening!!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Zombiepunk, perhaps the chav-like vampire has already been done - Harmony from Buffy maybe?