Sunday, March 04, 2007

To Sleep with a Vampire – review


Directed by: Adam Friedman

Release Date: 1993

Contains spoilers

This movie was on Zone Horror in a late night/early hours of the morning slot and so I recorded it to watch at a more sensible hour. When I had a quick flick through, to check it had recorded correctly, I was immediately struck by how much it seemed like Dance of the Damned. A quick check on imdb, before watching, showed that this is a remake of the 1988 film and thus the movie has a lot to live up to. Did it manage to?

Well the film itself is virtually identical to the original but there are some (mainly) minor differences, as such I am not going to go through the plot but I will look at the differences - thus this should be read in conjunction with the Dance of the Damned review. The first real difference I noticed was when the vampire vampire vision(Scott Valentine) enters the strip joint. In the original the bright lights and loud sounds seem to effect him, in this not. He does have a different type of vision but, rather than the vivid pinks of the original this is depicted in black and white. The screenshot is when he is 'seeing', whilst not there, Nina (Charlie Spradling) in the back room with an eyes effect. Note that in the original the character Nina was called Jodi.

When he approaches Nina he says he doesn’t have money, in the original he paid her to go with him, but gives her a ring. Also he doesn’t cross town by bus but has a motor bike. The attack by thugs from the original involves them trying to steal has bike and he is much more pro-active. He is also stabbed, to no effect, and throws both of the thugs rather than using a flower as a weapon, as occurred in the original.

vampire strengthHe lives in an apartment, rather than a house, and the apartment is dilapidated with the windows boarded up. Nina escapes the apartment early on and steals the motorbike. The vampire is able to follow and get ahead of her. He pulls her from the bike as she tries to run him down and the bike hits a parked car and explodes. In many respects this action segment was unnecessary, the power of the original was in script and performance. There is a further scene were they go to a bar that seemed there only to have a superfluous bar fight involving the vampire and Nina running away and being stalked.
Nina taste's vampire blood
In this we do, at the end, discover the vampire’s name – Jacob – and the ending is not at all ambiguous, which is not necessarily a good thing.

The biggest changes were in the way in which the vampire was depicted; we hear about his mother briefly but the full back story of what happened to him and how he is outcast from his own kind is absent. You wouldn’t necessarily miss this, unless you had seen the original. He does have major eye mojo, though he does not hypnotise a cabbie to keep his identity secret as occured in the earlier film. Instead he vamps out and threatens the cabbie, intimidating him, which is out of step with the concept that he cannot let Nina go as she knows what he is.

Claws extendedHe has quite brutal, extending claws, but they do not seem like secondary claws as they were in the first version and look a little false to be honest. In the original much play is made on the fact that the vampire is natural, just a different order of species. They cannot stand the sun, they are stronger and have different vision and live on human blood but ultimately they are of the natural order. The point is made in this and yet the film spoils this by having a few scenes that seem purely supernatural.

Hand in sunlightJacob closes the apartment door with a glance. This seems purely supernatural but I could live with the idea. The screenshot here shows Jacob’s hand in sunlight and the fact that it burns with a purple flame and has electrical sparks running along it made little sense and fell out with the natural order of things premise.

silly vampire sparkWorst was on the beach, when cops approach, and the two flee. In the original the vampire ran at vampire speed carrying Jodi. In this he turns into a spark, along with Nina, and flies back to the cab. This was just silly and whilst the super-speed scene looked a little hokey in the original, I would have preferred that to the ability to turn into a spark.

Charlie Spradling as NinaOf course the big question over the film falls to script and performance. The script is virtually the same, in fact identical in places. That said, whilst the original film's script managed to explore a whole range of subjects this seems to gloss over them, as such it is less fulfilling.

Scott Valentine as JacobLikewise, the performances fall short of the original. Don’t get me wrong, they were not necessarily bad but there wasn’t the spark and chemistry that O’Reilly and Andreeff had. Spradling never seemed as vulnerable and was a little too hard nosed in places, whereas you could also feel Andreef’s vulnerability below the tough exterior. Valentine didn’t feel as sympathetic as O’Reilly did and so you end up siding with Nina, whereas the original made you somewhat more uncertain as to where your loyalties lay. On the other hand, at least the bad mullet from the original had gone.

It might seem cruel to judge this against Dance of the Damned, but as it is virtually the same film I can do little else. If this had been original it would have, perhaps, scored higher but when looked at in terms of the first film it falls flat, plus some of the little extras, like turning into a spark, spoil a great premise. This will therefore get 4.5 out of 10, just below average, and a suggestion that, if you have never seen Dance of the Damned, it is worth watching this but I’d suggest you try and find the original instead.

The imdb page is here.

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