Sunday, January 27, 2008

Vamp or Not? Demon Slayer


This one comes in as something of a public service announcement. Daily I do an e-bay search for DVDs with the keyword vampire and recently this 2003 movie has come up regularly. To be honest it never looked too vampire and I’ve ignored it but the seller puts the following label on the film “Demon Slayer - Vampires Slashers - Teen Horror”.

So, I was in a local market and saw it for a third of the price that the e-bay seller sets the postage at, even before you bid (which in honesty seems high to me), and thought that for £1 I’d have a look at it. Movie wise things didn’t look to hot at first. After an opening that saw a city worker killed in the basement of an abandoned hospital we cut forward almost one year and the LA penal system is putting five troubled teens on a work programme to see if they can clean the place up and, in doing so, avoid jail.

bad startI said it didn’t start too well, what with the names and stereotype of the character flashing up on the screen. We have Alicia (Michelle Acuna) - the Goth, Tyson (Howard Williams Jr) - the brotha, Claudia (Hanna Lee) - the bitch, Phillip (Adam Huss) - the punk and Tamara (Monique Deville) - the bitch’s friend. It seemed so clichéd that it took a moment to realise that they were being self-effacing and parodying the clichéd elements of their own movie.

sacrificial victimThey are sent to the hospital, which stands on the grounds of a whorehouse. The whores abandoned the church – after the church abandoned them – and turned to the worship of an Aztec Goddess – sacrificing customers to their new deity. In doing so it seems they became demons who return on the Day of the Dead to carry on with their murderous ways.

most of the gangActually, despite a hackneyed premise the cast and director did rather well. The performances seem a notch above many of the cheap end films coming out and the director clearly wanted to develop character. All in all they rose above the level of the story and the script. There are many references to other movies in the dialogue, mainly through Phillip, who at one point quotes from The Monster Squad. All that said, is it Vamp?

buffy like face doodahsWell all the demons are female and all the victims are men. They appear once a year and other females can be possessed. They kill in a variety of ways and there is a Buffy-esque face thing going on but nothing in the way of fangs. Their eyes glow red, but that is as demonic as it might be vampiric. We do see biting at one point but it is not clear that they are feeding and it could just be an attack form.

bleeding ghost offers warningThey can be killed. Holy prayer can hold them back and we see a beheading successfully kill one. That said we also see a stab in the forehead kill another. There is nothing within the killing methods that screams out primarily vampire genre. A profusion of bugs, spiders crawling out of a mouth and the spirit of a dead man, bleeding from the mouth and gutted at the torso, warning the kids to get out doesn’t indicate vampire either.

not a way to kill a vampireThey are referred to as demons and demons they are. Sometimes films can be borderline, so much so that you can see why one person might decide they fit in with the genre even if you don’t. That is not the case here, horror, demons but nothing vampiric at all. So, a friendly piece of advice to e-bay sellers. Please do not state that something is vampire when it clearly isn’t. I bought this elsewhere but the phrase ‘trade description’ would spring to mind if I’d bought it through the seller who states it is vampire in the title listing. That said, given the price I bought it for and the fact that it was a fairly enjoyable, if very predictable, yarn means there was no real pain in bringing readers of the blog this ‘Vamp or Not?’

The imdb page is here.

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