Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Dr Shock’s Tales of Terror – review


Directed by: Douglas Agosti & Lance Otto Smith

Release date: 2003

Contains spoilers

Dr Shock’s Tales of Terror is an anthology of four short films and it is the first of those four, Bullet for a Vampire, which we are concerned with. This is not a portmanteau movie, leaving each individual tale hosted by the titular Dr Shock – a most annoying, overtly hyperactive creation.

Mark Standriff as Vyto LuccianiThe start of Bullet for a Vampire sees a man, Vyto Lucciani (Mark Standriff), watching a home movie, whilst flanked by a couple of heavies who also seem to be enjoying the show. It seems at first to be little more than a home video involving a pool party with middle age men and girls in bikinis but it becomes clear that it shows the execution of one of the men – something Vyto finds amusing as he is a gangster.

Cut to a fortune teller (Elena Pointinger) reading what would appear to be hand painted tarot-like cards. To be honest she is a rather annoying character with a faux accent but, despite being the lynch-pin of the story, she isn’t in it long. Her client is Vyto’s daughter Sophia (Chris-May Zeithami), a most spoilt little brat. The fortune teller predicts a man but then a skull card appears. She is fearful and will say no more, much to the disgust of Sophia who threatens her.

the beaten gypsyThe fortune teller is leaving her shop when she is grabbed by a couple of Vyto’s goons and beaten in the car (something hinted not actually portrayed). They throw her out into the trash and leave her there. She wanders into a graveyard, heading straight for a crypt and it is clear she knows exactly where she is going.

summoning the vampireShe reaches a stone coffin and begins to say a spell over the place that has been a final resting place for fifty years. She pulls the lid back and the interior of the sarcophagus is full of smoke and light and a fanged skeleton. She summons this creature to get revenge for her. The fortune teller is no longer in the film so our ears are spared her scratchy cacophony of a voice from this moment.

fake nightSophia is shopping and buys a rather expensive ($25K) necklace – acting all the while like a spoilt brat. When she gets outside the shop she is grabbed by a couple of mugger/rapists. The odd thing here is the filter used on the film. It is obviously used so that we ‘can’t tell’ that the outdoor scenes were shot in daylight – except that it is blooming obvious. A man (Timide) appears in the alley.

He runs at the mugger with a gun, twisting his arm and making him shoot himself and then breaks the other one’s neck. He accompanies, at her insistence, Sophia home and meets Vyto. Vyto offers the man, who introduces himself as Drake Uala, a job – which he excepts with the proviso that he work at night as he is allergic to the sun. Vyto doesn’t trust him however and has a thug keep an eye on.

Drake feedsThat doesn’t stop him going to Sophia – having changed the modern clothes for something a little more gothic and melodramatic, including cape (!). We come across one of the vampire’s skills here – he can talk in another person’s voice. He bites Sophia and had quite a cool pulsating vein thing going on – if only they had stuck to that.

Sophia looks like HellThe next day Sophia looks like Hell – I mean she really does, you have to feel for the actress. Vyto sends one of his men to find Drake, who seems to have vanished and puts another on guard in respect of his daughter. However, as night falls so calls to the guard and her voice has changed timbre.

Buffy rip offShe attacks the guard and we get a Buffy type vampire effect with the face that was less impressive than the pulsating vein thing. Vyto comes in, realises what is going on and stakes his own daughter. However, this is not before he punches her and gets a fang embedded in his knuckle. Of course he still has to deal with Drake and Drake needs to get revenge on behalf of the fortune teller.

vampire visionWhat else do we discover about vampires. As well as stealing voice Drake actually wears someone’s face as a disguise. They fear the cross and stakes are effective. I mentioned lens filters earlier and there is a strange effect that gives us vampiric vision – strange in that it is then not used again in the film and thus seemed pointless. Other than that our lore is limited. The story itself owes quite a bit to Innocent Blood, being a tale of vampires and mafia.

Timide as DrakeThe acting in the ranges from poor to passable. I particularly liked Timide, not that he was a great actor but because he looked the part and had an almost Adrian Paul thing going on facially. However I was less then impressed with the filtered lens trying to disguise the day shots – cheap.

As always I am only scoring the vampire segment, which is just as well as it was easily the best segment of the entire movie. 2.5 out of 10 is about all I can muster for it, there were some neat ideas (face and voice stealing being primary ones) when one avoided the pure rip off aspects (Buffy face) and the more annoying performances. If I was judging the movie as a whole the score would drop considerably.

The imdb page is here.

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