Thursday, December 18, 2008

I, Desire – review

splashDirector: John Llewellyn Moxey

Release date: 1982

Contains spoilers

The made for TV movie appeared a year after An American Werewolf in London. Why do I mention this? Because it stars David Naughton, the American Werewolf himself, as coroner’s assistant David Balsiger – a young law student working part time for the coroner’s office who comes across vampiric activity.

It was a TV movie and Moxey has a long resume of directing TV episodes/movies. However, as a TV movie, it didn’t challenge the audience as perhaps it should… but I get ahead of myself.

Dead MiltonIt begins with scenes of Hollywood Boulevard and as a car comes along sinister music starts to play. However the music isn’t a theme for the driver, one Milton King (Arthur Rosenburg), oh no siree. It was in place for the prostitute he picks up, a woman whose face we do not see. One issue I had with this film was the scoring, the sinister theme was obvious but okay but there was a banal theme for David and his gal Cheryl (Marilyn Jones) that was just awful. Anyway Milton dies and ends up in the morgue with neck wounds and drained of blood.

A priest comes a-callingDavid is on duty and prepares the toe tag, but he doesn’t take the body through to the lockers – the cold room gives him the creeps. That is the job of a couple of jokers, Larry (Marc Silver) and Daryl (Timothy Stack). Afterwards they go to eat and a priest (Brad Dourif) arrives. David has to take him through to the corpse but leaves him alone. When Larry and Daryl return they wonder why a priest would come as Milton’s Rabbi is in reception. The priest is gone.

David and JerryDavid and Cheryl have just moved in together. She is a nurse and he picks her up at the hospital before heading home. A cloaked figure lurks in bushes near the hospital. The next day he drops her off and she hears about a robbery in the hospital’s blood bank. In the meantime the detective in charge of the case, Jerry Van Ness (Dorian Harewood), picks up David to look through mugshots, trying to see if he can spot the priest. On route to the station he stops off at the hospital and asks new worker Mona (Barbara Stock) to let Cheryl know he might be late.

David Naughton as DavidNow the film does its best to hide the identity of the vampire until the end and I have read a comment on imdb that suggests it succeeds. It does not. As soon as we see the attractive new worker at the hospital we know it is her. Anyway David gets back to the hospital and sees the priest. He tries to give chase but looses him. He and Cheryl are in time to come across the blood bank being raided again and a nurse, Marge (Anne Bloom), being assaulted by an assailant who remains unseen by the audience – who breaks through a barred window to escape.

fangs in the darkDavid becomes frustrated as Jerry won’t listen to him about the priest being there. When he next goes to the hospital to see Cheryl and comes across Marge having her air supply removed and is then attacked by a figure, whom we see has fangs and who tosses him like a rag doll and leaps through a third story window to escape, his frustration grows. This is because the cops won’t accept it was a woman who attacked him, especially as he can’t identify her, he didn’t see her face, and it was the softness of her skin that suggested her gender to him.

Brad Dourif as PaulHe eventually finds the priest, whose name is Paul, and discovers that he is an ex-communicated priest who has tracked Desire, as the vampire is truly called, across the country. He tells David that a virtuous man is safe from the undead but they will find a way of slipping through the armour of most and corrupting their soul.

No one believes David, Cheryl leaves him and yet he cannot drop the idea that a vampire is stalking the city. He has to find the vampire…

Barbara Stock as DesireThe vampire in this is female, anyone she kills turns and she makes a noise like a big cat. We discover that crosses will hold her off, if wielded by a virtuous man and, via one of her resurrected victims, we discover that a stake through the heart will kill a vampire. We see a vampire die by plummeting from a penthouse – not a normal way in which a vampire can be killed. Desire’s coffin has a layer or compartment of dirt in it, it appears, presumably native or grave dirt.

she's hungryThere isn’t much other lore and the film, generally, tries but misses. Naughton works as the more and more harried law student out of his depth and, though his part is small, Dourif is his usual animated and manic self. I did not buy the relationship between David and Cheryl at all – there was just no chemistry – and thus didn’t really care when she left him, to be honest he was better off with the vampire.

There is a lack of gore and nudity in this which belies the almost noir feel they tried to put in as it was symptomatic of denying the grittiness that is necessary if you are going to pull off noir. However it isn’t a bad way to spend 90 or so minutes, if it airs on TV as it isn’t on DVD or VHS as far as I can tell. 4 out of 10 seems fair, not bad but missing the grittiness it desperately needed and suffering from poor chemistry between the two leads.

The imdb page is here.

;) Q


Chick Young said...

Tal, old buddy. I vaguely remember this - your review is making desperately want to see it! You've got my email, if you have a suggestion on how I can view it - please drop me a line. All the best and Happy Holidays!!!!!!!!!

Uranium Willy said...

I have always liked Brad Dourif since One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Like Chick says I would like to check it out but can be hard to get sometimes. I may do some shopping here when the coffee warms up. I have a couple sites that may have it.

I do not know if I told you but I ran a stake through the heart of the Son of the Uranium Cafe and have assembled Necrotic Cinema, a blog for newer horror and sci-fi and gore films. This way the UCafe can focus now on older films.

It is a Blogger blog some it is in the community. I think you will like the design I made up for it. the URL is

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi both.

I'm glad I have tweeked some nostalgia.

Bill, I certainly have seen the new site and it is looking good.

Seasons greeting to you both

Dave said...

Wow....this really brings back the memories. I had enjoyed this so much then I actually recorded it with a cassette player (yes THAT far ago) to listen to. The actress went on to another of my favorite shows, Spenser for Hire for two seasons. Thank your for your thoroughness and nostalgia.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Dave, I am doing my best to be as thorough as i can. Thanks for tking time to look through the blog - I appreciate it.

Fangfan408592 said...

I have always found the manner of Desire's death to be confusing. By freeze-framing the image of her body near the end of the film, I found that it looks like she fell on a tree of some sort and was likely impaled (through the torso). I guess. A 3-story fall earlier in the film didn't seem to faze her.