Monday, November 26, 2007

Kingdom of the Vampire {2007} – review

DVD

Director: Brett Kelly

Release Date: 2007

Contains spoilers

So, this is the remake of the 1991 film and I am going to suggest that you look to that review for plot outline, as the plot is virtually the same except for one major change that I am not going to reveal – though this review will contain a hint towards it, just as the film did.

The main thing to change in this is the personalities of the characters and the quality of the production. Now, I am not going to suggest that we have an Oscar winning production on our hands but the quality of this is vastly superior on all levels, effects, edits, filming quality, directing and acting. If you are going to watch this do watch the original first – it will make the experience better.

Brett Kelly as JeffI said the characters have changed and I really think we should look at that. Director Brett Kelly plays the lead of Jeff and, whilst there is a degree of the whiner still present, Kelly actually makes Jeff seem that much more introvert and a lot less the sulk. Jeff now works in a video store and, from the beginning, is having flashes with regards blood. He meets Nina (Anastasia Kimmett) by rescuing her from bad to the bone boyfriend Bruce (Jody Haucke).

Anastasia Kimmett as NinaAs for Nina herself, the unbelievable wholesomeness has vanished. Nina is a bad girl who falls for Jeff after his white knight moment. She is a heroin user and her and Jeff sleep together – without the fangs moment of the chaste kiss in the original version. Jeff actually tells her that he is a vampire, though she doesn’t believe him.

Jeff and momThe biggest change is in mom (Karin Landstad) who is less the bitter old harridan and is played in a seductive, soft spoken but steely manner. That is not to say that she is not abusive towards Jeff, it means that she does it in a soft, manipulative manner for most of the film and this is infinitely more watchable than the performance in the first film.

Karin Landstad as momThrough mom we get to hear and see much of the lore. She still beats Jeff with a crucifix, but we see one swing and the scene changes. However we note that she puts a glove on to handle the holy symbol. We also notice, during a dream sequence that Jeff has of a childhood conversation, that she has an old scar that are clearly fang marks. Yet they are meant to be born vampires… makes you think, doesn’t it.

Miles Long as DupreeThe film introduces the concept of Dupree (Miles Long), Jeff’s father, much earlier on (as the sheriff (Chip Hair) is involved earlier – from when the cookie selling girl (Lisa Aitken) goes missing). Kelly seems to enjoy putting in almost subliminal flashes into the film, but does not over use them. In one of these we see Dupree momentarily – the magic of DVD allowing a decent screenshot.

feedingOther main changes come in with Jeff and mom living in a quite opulent home, rather than the poor white trash home of the first film and the guys that attack Jeff being Bruce and his posse rather than random drunks.

cat attackThe gore levels are higher. Rather than see a silhouette devouring of a kitten we get more of a clear view, though it still seems un-shocking after Count Yorga, vampire. However, the film seems reluctant to show violence at other times and I suspect this had much to do with budget constraints, to a degree it is good that Kelly was aware of this issue and worked around it but it did jolt when it happened.

dead cookie girlAll in all this is a much more competent, darker working of the film and the story hangs together better. It is, however, still a low budget flick and has problems. The acting is superior, barring incidental characters who tended to be fairly bad, but it still isn’t fantastic. The direction is better but somehow is lacking in places. The twist to the story is interesting but, despite giving flashes to let us know what had happened, I found myself checking the audio commentary to ensure that what I thought they eluded to had actually happened – much more could have been done with it.

Not terrible, an improvement on the original but not the best film on the market by a long shot. 3 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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