Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Vamp or Not? Evil Toons

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This 1992 film by Fred Olen Ray was another one I checked out due to its inclusion on a vampire filmography I have and, to start off with, it didn’t seem like it would or could be that vampiric. Mix in some awful acting and we were off to a bad start.

The film begins with a view of a house. Before it stands a man, much later we discover that he is Gideon Fisk. Fisk is played by David Carradine and, to be fair, whilst he is little more than a cameo in the film (appearing in smatterings through the running length) Carradine does have an intensity of presence that lends itself to any film he is in. The problem is he has made some questionable films and, one might be tempted to say, will whore himself to a project.

David Carradine as Gideon FiskAnyway we have Fisk and he has a book, a book with a face on the cover that talks. Why did I feel like a little bit of the Evil Dead series was ripped out and transplanted into this? Fisk heads to the basement and hangs himself, telling the book that it loses. The book laughs, mocks him and vanishes.

Jan and TerryBurt (Dick Miller) runs a cleaning firm and has brought four co-eds to the house to clean it for the new owners. The girls are Terry (Suzanne Ager) who is the leader, her friend Jan (Barbara Dare), Roxanne (Madison Stone) the slut and Megan (Monique Gabrielle) who is the dowdy girl who obviously is hiding big boobs under her jumper and a pretty face behind her glasses.

Roxanne and MeganNow if you are curious, the acting from these four runs to about porn film level and that is fitting as a quick imdb reveals that most of the girls are known for such films. They are rather adept at screaming however and all manage to reveal their breasts at one point or another. Anyhoo, house has electricity but no phone and so neighbour Mr Hinchlow (Arte Johnson) will be keeping an eye on them.

the bookLong story mercifully shortened, they found a tapestry (actually a soul shroud) and ritual dagger in the basement. Then Fisk appears and gives them the book. The book is in Latin and Megan reads a page out (then the footnote that states do not read it out). The rather dog like picture next to the words comes alive. And it is…. in cartoon form.

the beastSo, could we class this demonic cartoon as a vampire? Well it starts off by killing Roxanne. After it does it can assume her form (and the form of anyone else it kills, it seems). This means that the cartoon is not in the film for long. It does state that the taste of blood, from Roxanne, allowed it to become real again – so blood drinking is its thing.

biff dead and bittenIt then attacks the others, plus (off screen) Hinchlow, Roxanne’s fellow Biff (Don Dowe) and Burt. Many vampires shapeshift, but taking the form of other people is rare – though not unheard of. When it attacks it does go for the neck and the Roxanne form does sprout a mouthful of fangs – which seems quite vampiric. The reason for the attacks is to put the soul shroud over the body and send the soul to the devil, who will give the beast permanent earthly residence.

showing fangsIt can be killed by stabbing it in the heart (quite vampiric) but only with the ritual dagger and then burning the book to prevent it returning to the pages of the book. Altogether, though, this is much more demonic (in a Who Framed Roger Rabbit kind of way) than it is vampire. When the beast does die the soul shroud is in sight but not used, in a pointless way that indicated that the film makers had an idea but either couldn’t pull it off or couldn’t be bothered.

Dick Miller as BurtI must mention Dick Miller, who was in Bucket of Blood. At one point we get clips from that film, which he is watching and then asks the question why the actor never got an Oscar! Other aspects that should have worked well were the introduction of cartoon type sounds around the live action but they were too few and far between to make a real impact. Overall a bad, very derivative movie with sexploitative moments that are too blatant and not really erotic.

blood at mouthBlood drinking aside, I think I’m going to have to go Not Vamp on this one.

The imdb page is here.

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