Saturday, June 28, 2008

Honourable Mentions: Vampire Clan

dvdThis 2002 film, directed by John Webb, is another film about a so called ‘vampire killer’. We have previously mentioned two other such movies. The classic M and Tenderness of the Wolves. However, there are big differences between the previous films featured and this – not only in the fact that the crimes portrayed are more contemporary.

Firstly there is the qualitative difference. Whilst M is allegedly based on events and Tenderness of the Wolves is based roughly on events, both are artistic movies in their own rights. This is a ‘real life’ movie and doesn’t have any substantial artistic aspect to it, as such. It is more a dramatised documentary. The other big difference is that whilst the murderers portrayed in the earlier movies were dubbed as vampires by the press, in this case the murderer, Rod Ferrell (Drew Fuller), claimed to be a vampire – it was part, it seems, of his delusion.

victimFerrell murdered the parents of Heather Wendorf (Kelly Kruger) – in real life her father and step-mother – by bludgeoning them to death in a ruthless manner. The film follows the case from the point when Heather’s sister Jeni (Stacy Hogue) finds the bodies. Ferrell, Heather and Ferrell’s ‘coven’ – Scott (Timothy Lee DePriest), Charity (Alexandra Breckenridge) and Dana (Marina Black) – are caught and the subsequent film reconstructs events as they are questioned.

blood sharingFerrell claimed that he was a 500 year old vampire (the film suggests he claimed 1000 year old) and the film does show some blood drinking – in a vampyre scene way rather than in any supernatural sense. However it missed an awful lot of the background to the case out. There is some indication that his own life involved his (step) parents being delusional about vampirism and involved in occult activity. Showing this – it is mentioned in one throwaway line – would have given insight into the killer.

Kelly Kruger as HeatherThere is also background regarding a hang-out place known as “the vampire hotel”. Whilst we get a brief glimpse of it, we get no real explanation in the film and its presence only serves to confuse. There is no mention of the vampire role playing that Ferrell is known to have indulged in, something that is important to the background even though I detest it when the press tries to tie role playing in with violent crime.

Of course the background that has been missed out would have given us an insight into the murderer but the film, as presented, also fails to offer us anything that would seem to capture the pain and anguish which must have been suffered by the victims’ family.

Drew Fuller as RodDrew Fuller, as Ferrell, comes across as a charismatic, if weird, young man. He gives a solid performance but is limited by the script, which seems to follow a ‘crime dramatisation by the numbers’ model. Heather is portrayed in a very sympathetic way but we then question the film showing her being released at the end of the questioning – in reality she was held for months whilst a decision was made whether to prosecute her. In the end it was a grand jury who decided not to indict her and, from what I can gather, the judge had urged prosecutors to charge her. The film does mention, in text, the grand jury decision.

the clanThe Ferrell case is a disturbing chapter in recent crime history, the film is by the numbers and one can only question its actual purpose as a piece of cinema.

The imdb page is here.


Anthony Hogg said...

This film was obviously made to superficially appeal to a teen market.

One example of this - in my opinion - is the drastic difference in appearance between the Rod of the film and the Rod of real-life.

Derek "Ruthven" Tatum said...

>> One example of this - in my opinion - is the drastic difference in appearance between the Rod of the film and the Rod of real-life. <<

I was about to make the exact same comment! The real Ferrell looked like the human trash that he was, charismatic only to those who grew up thinking third-rate heavy metal was the crux of vampire culture. The photos I have seen of the film's Ferrell look nothing like that.

Sorry to be so negative tonight! ;)

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Derek, no need to apologise - and Hi to yourself and Anthony.

I would expect the film industry to make some changes. My big problem with the film was that it had absolutely no artistic merit, especially when compared to films such as M and Tenderness of the Wolves.

If it is going to be more documentary style I would expect some insight into the case and the individuals involved. As I put in the write up "one can only question its actual purpose as a piece of cinema."

OllieMugwump said...

I first read about the Ferrell case in Tony Thorne's "Children of the Night".

I'm glad you've reviewed this (I haven't seen it), the fact Heather Wendorf is potrayed 'sympathetically'(she proudly claimed to be an incarnated demon) and Sondra Gibson (Ferrell's equally deranged pretentious goth mother) wasn't portrayed nor father Rick Ferrell; (who abandoned his high-school girlfriend and son for the army) does not make this ring true.

Plus the fact (as Thorne points out) that Murray in in the 'Buckle of the Bible-Belt'; we can of course imagine what a contributing factor those rabid old sheep-dog and brain-washed child preachers, old church biddies, jocks and rednecks were.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

cheers for the comment Ollie. This was severely lacking as a film - so much left out.

Derek Tatum said...

As an aside, Alex Breckenridge grew up to become shockingly hot.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Derek - she is rather pretty but... does your comment have anything to do with the picture that came up of her (on a google search) in American Horror Story and a maid's outfit?

Derek Tatum said...

More than a little ;)