Thursday, July 19, 2007

Blood dancers – review


Director: J R McGarrity

Release date: 2004

Contains spoilers

Some times a film gets ideas above its station, although this is not necessarily a bad thing. Artistic additions into a cheap digi-shot film can work and can fail, it really does depend. In this case we get a combination of the two with some nice visual effects and awful sound effects.

The film starts with a vampire, Gisella (Gabrielle Abitol), being tied in ropes composed of thousands of knots and then walled up. She makes the point that if she dies the other vampires, who are doing the walling up, will die also. But the vampires have a plan.

Elizabeth Hayden Smith as CherokeeIt is an intriguing start but then the basic story of this film proves itself to be very simple indeed. Cherokee (Elizabeth Hayden Smith) and her friend Lorna (Teresa Bianca Sciortino) work in a strip joint as cocktail waitresses. Cherokee wants more, however. She intends to dance in the amateur night and be spotted as a dancer.

Aime Wolf as ElyseThere is competition however in the form of Erica (Kerry Ann Rohr), Clarice (Myla Marquez) and Elyse (Aime Wolf), three vampires. Elyse eventually wins the prize, but she gets talking to Cherokee, gives her the prize money as a tip and her card – offering to give her pointers. They do tell her that they are vampires, though she thinks it is just a name.

ugly vampireThe vampires then take two guys back to their house and feed on them with an assortment of housebound vampires. This is a strange aspect to the film. The three main vampires look normal whilst the others seem twisted and monstrous. It is also here that we get one of the artistic aspects that works well. The vampires are filmed in almost a stop motion way, which gives them a disjointed movement style and makes them feel otherwordly.

Anyway Cherokee goes to the house to return the money and meets Anna (Shelly Varod) who warns her away. We can highlight here the artistic addition that doesn’t work at all. Through the film there is a tendency to put effects on the dialogue, it sounds awful and makes it difficult to actually hear what is going on. Anyway, as I say, Anna warns Cherokee off, but is stopped by some ‘from coffin’ telepathy when she goes too far with her warnings. Anna does tell her that if she wants to meet Elyse she must come back at night.

coming to get youShe does that and Elyse then does a night time visitation at Cherokee’s apartment and bites the girl. This makes her sensitive to silver and gives a thirst for Elyse’s blood. It is up to Lorna and Vick (Matteo Southwell), a pizza guy with a crush on Lorna, to rescue her.

What this film does well is play with vampiric lore. CGisella fed through pipeherokee is allowed to drink a little, which makes her a daytime servant like Anna – or a daywalker as they refer to them. If she had drunk more she would become a full fledged vampire, equal to Elyse. The vampires keep Gisella alive by feeding her blood through a tube and have used knotted ropes to hold her given a vampire’s compulsion to undo knots – begging the question how could they use the rope without falling pray to the compulsion to untie the knots themselves.

face maskIn a twist on vampires need inviting in, Vick and Lorna keep the vampires out by pasting notes on the doors telling them they are not welcome. It was done as a humour piece but worked better as a twist on traditional lore. When we see Elyse’s eyes in her coffin there is a funky skin thing going on, that looked like bad effects, but later we discover that they sleep with face masks on, leading to a final confrontation with face masks and rollers in the vampire’s hair.

Lorna and VickA couple of FBI agents are thrown into the mix but they really didn’t work. One suspects they were meant to either be humorous or a statement about the paranoia prevalent within Western security services but the film would have worked better without them.

The acting is poor to average throughout, although Matteo Southwell comes across as very personable and natural.

a biteAll in all this is a cheap film and a little mismatched. There is interesting use of lore, but also artistic effects that sometimes work and, at other times, totally fail. Not the greatest movie but there are many worse films out there. 2.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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