Saturday, August 09, 2008

Vampire Resurrection – review


Director: Denice Duff

Release date: 2001

Contains spoilers

This film, also known as Song of the Vampire, has been sat on my shelves for some time but I decided that I should dig it out for review for very specific reasons that should become apparent in the not too distant future.

It is essentially a Denice Duff vehicle; she stars in the film, directed it and is one of the producers. You’ll remember that Duff took on the role of Michelle in the Full Moon picture Subspecies 2: Bloodstone and returned to the role through the third and fourth films of the series. Her character in this is unrelated – the film seems unrelated to that series – and this is very much a romantic view of the vampire.

in the pastWe begin a hundred years before the main film and Jonathon (James Horan) and Caroline (Denice Duff) are in love. Let us roll this back a little however and destroy some of the romantic notions this film tries to invoke. They are lovers but she is married to another man (Frank Bruynbroek). The cuckolded husband finds the lovers, tries to shoot Jonathon with a crossbow and Caroline puts herself in the way, dying as a result. All very noble but she was having an affair. Later Jonathon states that the husband was a cruel wife-beater, there is never an excuse for that but she was, still, having an affair.

voodoo curseAnyway the husband is hung for murder and Jonathon is imprisoned for adultery – fates that we discover later in the film. Once out of jail he visits a voodoo priestess who tells him that in 100 years Caroline will be reborn. She can curse him so that he will die and then, when Caroline’s soul calls to him, he will awaken – a creature of darkness – and have one month to find her and claim her forever.

The curse is not cast by spell but by stabbing him in the neck with a knife previously used to decapitate a vampire (presumably the dried blood is the way in which the vampirism is passed on). This is all something that Victoria – Caroline reborn – dreams off in a recurring nightmare.

Jonathon rebornShe tells her friend Geoff (Geoffrey Lewis, who you might recall from Salem’s Lot) about her dreams and he gives her some homespun wisdom. Geoff is a painter (as well as a morgue attendant) and has painted a cemetery gate that Victoria recognises from her dreams. We cut to the location and witness the rebirth of Jonathon.

James Horan as JonathonNow Jonathon looks a little funky straight out of the grave and thus attacks a graveyard watchman first off. Feeling (and looking) much better he hears a song being sung from his time and wonders whether the singer, Erica (Debbie Fleming), might be Caroline. One kiss is enough to tell him that she isn’t and he attacks her – something seen by the cops who are perturbed when they put bullets into him and he doesn’t fall.

Frank Bruynbroek as MartyVictoria has her own problems. Her ex-husband Marty (Frank Bruynbroek) has been released from jail and she put him there due to his domestic abuse. He is obsessed with her and is coming for her. It is interesting that it is the same actor – thus she is in the same relationship she was 100 years before. What made Marty a wife beater? Was it coincidence or does he float through life after life beating up his wife, or perhaps his jealous obsession stems from her affair in the past life? The film doesn’t elaborate.

What is certain is that Victoria is in danger thus she decides to go to her Aunt Zerelda (Marilyn O’Connor) – a strange old cook who believes in everything from UFOs to Big Foot. Jonathon and Marty track her down.

Killing Mr CharlesNow I was saying about the romantic aspect of this not being that moral at its root. Whatever occurred in the past is one thing but we now look to Jonathon and Victoria and their romance but, far from a good man, Jonathon himself is now a creature of darkness. He quite happily kills Zerelda’s odd job man and poses as his nephew. The only reason he doesn’t kill Zerelda herself is due to her relationship with Victoria and a fear of how Victoria would react.

he's not in the mirror!Zerelda quickly works out what he is – due to the fact that he has no reflection – and tells us later that a vampire will sacrifice anything, even themselves, for love. This doesn’t seem to fit the genre well but it is lore we are stuck with in this. For her part, Zerelda is more than happy to enlist the help of wife beater and murderer Marty than have her niece date a vampire. Incidentally we have seen Marty’s progress through the film and he murders his parole officer and one of Victoria’s employees, severely beats (possibly kills) Victoria’s friend and tortures a cat – not a nice man.

Victoria and JonathonLore seems fairly standard. Sunlight doesn’t kill but hurts and puts the vampire, for the most part, in a deathlike state. Exchanging of blood is necessary to make another vampire. A stake through the heart and decapitation will kill. What is more unusual (as a vampire story standard) is Victoria’s reaction to Jonathon and his vampire state. She accepts him for what he is but refuses to be turned. He, in turn, refuses to turn her against her will. (All well and good but what about only having a month to make her his – can we assume that means turn her or win her heart? The film doesn’t say).

look - a boom mikeActing is passable, Horan has a great voice (thus his career as a voice actor) but the entire thing looks very cheap. There is a cop sub-story which was superfluous (and its impact on the ending was illogical), though I’ve avoided details here. However, the biggest sin was events like the very apparent boom mike that was not only very much in shot, it was kind of hypnotic as it was tilted back and forth between the actresses.

Denice DuffThis is not great cinema and the romance aspects, whilst I have been fairly dismissive of the purity of motivation of the characters, are actually fairly standard, clichéd and owing quite a lot to Dan Curtis. The film doesn’t do horror that well, but that was not its purpose. The Midnight Syndicate produced musical theme is excellent. Overall 3 out of 10 – Duff fans would be better with the subspecies films.

The imdb page is here.

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