Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Vamp Or Not? Highlander – “the vampire”

DVD box set

Contains spoilers

I’ve got to admit that I have not watched the Highlander series. I loved the first movie but was dismayed by the pile of horse’s manure that was the second film and gave up at that point. This season 2 episode directed by Dennis Berry was entitled “The Vampire” and regular reader Zombiepunk provided me with the episode to watch.

For those who have not seen any of the incarnations of Highlander the premise was that immortals walk amongst us. They can only be killed by removing the head, hence they all carry swords, and when one immortal kills another they take their power. Eventually there will be only one.

This episode details Duncan MacLeod (Adrian Paul) as he comes up against murderous immortal Nicholas Ward (Jeremy Brudenell). Ward has a habit of killing off family members and then marrying the remaining daughter, when she meets an unfortunate end he inherits the money.

The section of the episode that should interest us is that which took place in the past, when Ward and MacLeod first met. Macleod was looking for a long term investment opportunity and was going to invest in a company. The owners of the company, down to two from three as partner Charles has been killed, a Mr Henry Jacom (Trevor Peacock) and William Stillwell meet with MacLeod. Paris is abuzz with the thought that a vampire stalks the streets (and had killed Charles), though MacLeod is dismissive of the notion. However, he does sense an immortal nearby.

Vampirish woundsStillwell leaves the inn and there is a scream. When MacLeod gets outside he sees Stillwell’s body. He chases a man, who was seen over the body, but he gets away – though it appears he was shot. A doctor on scene will not be drawn to the cause of death but a man, we later discover to be Baines (Denis Lill) - a vampire chaser, shows the crowd the puncture wounds on Stillwell’s neck. Baines has been employed by Jacom to protect them, fearful as he and his partners desecrated a church in Transylvania in order to sell it’s valuables. They even dug up an ornate coffin that mysteriously vanished before they opened it.

MacLeod suspects Ward, who is the firm’s lawyer, and he is right on the money. Jacom is left with holy water and a cross by Baines, who goes out to hunt the fiend and then, whilst the businessman is left on his own, Ward approaches Jacom. strange deviceHe has a curious device with two sharp probes that he sticks in the neck and then uses to suction blood away from the corpse. With this he gives the illusion that he is a vampire.

This was clever, an immortal posing as an undead and was a natural way forward within the story premise. By giving the impression of being a vampire he keeps all suspicion away from himself.

Baines is using early forensic techniques and MacLeod gives him the evidence he needs to accuse Ward. Unfortunately, to Baines, Ward is a vampire and goes after him with traditional techniques. The first thing he does is not traditional, he brains Ward, the hunter stakedbut then he splashes him with holy water, puts a cross on his chest and stakes him. He then goes to his table, to prepare a saw I’d guess. Of course, he might have stunned Ward but what he did cannot kill him. Ward pulls the stake and stakes the hunter. MacLeod, eventually, manages to warn Ward off Jacom’s daughter.

The parts set in modern times have no vampiric overtones.

So we have no vampire, but we have the illusion of a vampire and the belief in a vampire. As I said in the Rules of the Game this is enough, depending on how it is handled, to class a media as vampire and I think this episode deserves to be classed as Vamp. It is interesting to note that Adrian Paul was in vampiric gothic soap opera “Dark Shadows (revival)” (1991) and would go on to play a vampire in the 2001 film “the Breed” and a writer of vampire fiction in the 2001 episode of Relic Hunter “Vampire’s Kiss”.

The imdb page is here.


AtlanticVamp said...

NO! This isn't a vampire show! I have it in my own collection, marked with an asterisk. Andy, need you ask, darling? (j/k)

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Wi Atalanticvamp.

The show generically isn't vamp but the episode...

I'd have to say yes, due to the fact that the hunter is convinced and the attempts o make himself appear to be a vampire... This follows the tradition of such films as "Mark of the Vampire" (1935).

Tht said, even if it wasn't I'd have to ask as they called the episode "The Vampire"!

Great to hear from you.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

That should have been Hi at the head of the last post, not Wi by the way! D'oh

AtlanticVamp said...

Yeah, kind of dumb they felt the need to call it that.

everlost said...

just read the highlander vamp or not review...if you still havent seen the series, i would recommend it. Adrian paul does a great job of playing an immortal, and there are some great parallels between how he deals with life, lost loves and age-old rivalries through the centuries and how a vampire would look at them i think.

agreed, second film and onwards were dire, but i think the series follows on from the first film well without turning them all into aliens, bringing them back from the dead etc etc

Taliesin_ttlg said...

cheers Everlost, I'll bear that in mind