Thursday, September 11, 2008

Vamp or Not? Fiend


This was a low budget movie from 1980 that was written and directed by Don Dohler. Dohler was writer and producer of later low budget vampire flicks Stakes and Vampire Sisters.

This film was less obviously within the vampire realm, much less than those later films, hence us investigating it under ‘Vamp or Not?’ – but whilst it was a low budget film there is something different about this… A chunkiness is the best way to describe it and it might have something to do with his direction or simply the filming medium. More modern digi-cam films can, I guess, feel thinner.

glowing, floating fiendThis film begins in a graveyard in Seville County, it is March. A red glowing thing floats over the skyline of a cemetery. What is it. According to the DVD box it is a ‘mutant mosquito’ – though the film never says that. Later, in film, we hear about a spirit known only as a Fiend and it is one of those. It sinks into a grave.

up from the graveA couple Steve (Steve Frith) and Angie (Lydia Vuynovich) are in the graveyard. Angie seems a little less than impressed with the location and is cold. She sends Steve to the car to get a blanket. Unseen by them a red glowing hand erupts from the soil. The Fiend has possessed the corpse (Don Leifert) in the grave.

I rot, I glow, therefore I amHe comes up behind Angie and begins to strangle her, his visage is rotting. However, as she dies, we see his hands and then his whole body begin to pulsate red. He is stealing her life force, draining it. His face becomes younger, uncorrupt. This seems like some form of energy vampire then.

Richard Nelson as GaryThe film storyline is somewhat unimportant thereafter. He moves to a house, under the assumed name of Eric Longfellow, and his suspicious (and fully dislikeable) neighbour Gary (Richard Nelson) becomes wary of him and starts to investigate him. Meanwhile the surrounding towns are gripped by fear of a serial killer who strangles his victims (and who is obviously our boy).

During Gary's investigation we discover that the house Eric moved to actually belonged to Eric's distant cousin and the profession he takes up, violin teacher, was his living profession. The fiend activates the memories and talents of the corpse. We discover that he begins to rot if he doesn’t feed and likes cold damp places (the cellar) as it reminds him of the grave.

unusualy feeding from a manHe is a serial killer. He can drain anyone but prefers females and has a shrine in his basement. He stalks his victims, it seems, and then slices up their voyeuristically taken photographs when he has killed them. This showed malice and forethought. He tries to cover his tracks as much as possible, this includes killing those who might be classed as loose threads.

There is a confusing aspect within the film surrounding the name Dorian. This seems to have been Eric's name when alive and, now dead, he names his cat Dorian - almost as an easy clue for any suspicious neighbour! However a book on witchcraft and demons actually ties the name Dorian in with the Fiend in a (in-story) traditional sense. This aspect simply served to confuse the viewer. We do discover that he is strong and that a sword through the torso can kill him (or drive the fiend out of the corpse at least) though we don’t know a logical reason as to why this would be the case.

the strength of the deadThis isn’t a great film but there is something compelling about it on a bad B movie level. However, is it vamp? Whilst Dohler created a new creature we should look at the evidence. It is a reanimated corpse, it rots (and looks older) without feeding and that foodstuff is life energy. It has memories and is clearly sentient. It is very strong and the love of cold, damp places is reminiscent of the native earth myth – broadened and generalised.

I would say that this is an energy vampire, either that or an angry Ready Brek eater. The imdb page is here.


Slaine said...

Surely the Gent of the DVD cover is Robbie Coltrane?

Taliesin_ttlg said...