Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Night Hunter – review

Director: Rick Jacobson

Release Date: 1996

Contains spoilers

I first caught this a couple of years ago, well actually I only caught the last ten minutes and was kind of relieved that I didn’t see the rest of the film. However, it was on Zone Horror the other night and I decided it should be watched in its entirety in order that I might continue my quest to bring you all things vampiric.

The film starts off in a shack and a vampire hunting family – the Cutters - are battening down the hatches for the night. They put some liquid on the child, Jack (played as a child by Chris Aguilar). Now let us stop for a moment and examine this liquid. One might think it was holy water – though there is no evidence of that. All I can tell you is that they anoint young Jack with it and later in the film the older Jack (Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson) puts some on himself. It seems to have no discernible effect. It might be the same liquid, referred to as elixir if memory serves – I’d given up on notes at that point – that Jack pours on someone’s gunshot wound to heal it. Who knows?

Anyhoo, Jack is put in a cupboard to hide and given a book. There is a knock on the door, from Sid (Sid Sham) - a fellow hunter, and they let him in. Sid has gone bad, however, and lets the vampires in. Jack sneaks from his hiding spot and the book ends up in the fire, is retrieved and Jack is put out the window as his family are slaughtered.

The present day (well 1995) and Jack goes in a restaurant, guns a blazing and fights it out with four vampires. The guns are to slow them, because in this the only way to kill a vampire is to break its neck. Jack thinks the vampires are now all dead (the book had a list of names of all the vampires) but the cops are after him and a reporter named Raimy (Melanie Smith) is also on his trail.

Unfortunately there are five more vampires, led by Fischer (Nicholas Guest), and they have descended on LA as there is to be an eclipse. It seems that a vampire bite will only turn someone during an eclipse. Hmmm…

The vampire lore is pretty much as I pointed out, they must have
their necks broken and nothing else bothers them. Sorry… sunlight is a bit bright for them so they wear dark glasses. Also, for some reason, their coffins are in a room refrigerated down to sub-zero temperature. There is a nice moment, however, where the cops examine the body of a vampire and we discover that the wound from the gunshot moments earlier looks like a month old scar.

The hunters seem more than human also. They have a psychic vampire tracking ability and seem a little more hardy than we mere mortals. There is also a sub-story about Fischer recognising Raimy from another era – that old chestnut – and wanting her to be his vampire bride – but really I couldn’t care and neither could the writer as this is mentioned but never explored in any detail.

The acting was uniformly poor. Cash Casey as the disbelieving suddenly believing cop was simply unbelievable in a wholly bad way. Wilson was so stoic as Jack Cutter that he made Blade seem like a non-stop madcap joker. I refuse to contemplate what was going on with Nicholas Guest’s ‘evil’ laugh.

The worst thing about this film is, without a doubt, the directing. Every time an action scene begins, for the duration of the scene, the camera violently shakes. I don’t really know what Jacobson was trying to achieve with this, perhaps it was a device to portray the preternatural speed and reactions of the vampires. It was, in reality, simply annoying and nothing more. The acting may not have been of the highest calibre and the story might have been simple and cliched (with the more interesting aspects unexplained) but the film would have scored higher if it hadn't been for the shaking cameras.

There really isn’t much else to say about this, so I’ll shut up. 0.5 out of 10 is given for the described concept of how the healing gunshot looked.

The imdb page is here.

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