Director: Richard Brandes
Release date: 2004
When this appeared in the Box of Blood I kind of instinctively knew that it wasn’t going to be the best movie ever. After all, it had only been released the year before and it was already in a multi-film set. That was possibly an unfair assessment but it would prove to be accurate, unfortunately.
The problem with the film is two-fold. Firstly it is very simple; there isn’t much in the way of story though there is a tiny bit of unusual twisting of vampire lore. Secondly it is that the film opens with our protagonist, down on his luck cop Hank Holten (Kevin Dillon), being interviewed by a doctor (Jim Ortlieb) to see if he is mentally capable of standing trial. The Doctor even shows him pictures of a body with bite marks in the neck.
Now, given that he is sat there, we now know that he survives through the meat of this movie. Given that this has pretensions of the thriller (will he survive, will he turn), the tension is kind of blown already. Hank takes his story back before the body in the photo, back to when he lost his temper.
He didn’t know why he was in the park, he told himself he was just looking out for Susan (Vanessa Angel) – his estranged wife. The fact that he looked a mess, was lurking behind a tree, she met her new man, Jake (Alex McArthur), and she spotted him lurking was all bad enough. Then, after she vanished, some little punk tried to rob him at gunpoint. He tells the kid to kill him, then knocks the hesitant robber’s gun from his hand and beats him silly. He tells the gathering crowd he is a cop – oh good, police brutality.
His Captain, John Billings (Lance Henriksen), is less than impressed and knows that Hank is living from his car and drinking. He tells his errant officer to clean up his act or he’ll have his badge (only reluctant to do this as Hank says the job is all that keeps him from losing his mind completely). He gives him a new case, a missing persons. Layla Simmons (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe) went missing two weeks before having attended a rave. In the rec room, drinking a coffee, the TV has a chat show on. Susan is being interviewed – apparently she is the best selling author of a series of vampire novels – when Jake is mentioned Hank’s coffee hits the screen.
Hank trawls the clubs looking for Layla and, despite promising to quit the booze, having a drink as he goes. Eventually, in a club, he spots her. She seems to be arguing with a couple. He follows her out and sees some guy come on to her, she punches him out. The guy throws something at her but Hank shouts a warning. He speaks to her but they are interrupted by Alex (Kenneth Colom) who asks what Hank is doing with his sister; Alex's eyes shine.
They talk about returning to the batcave and she says Hank is her date. When he protests her eyes shine and he becomes compliant. They travel in a limo, there is some drug use and oral excitement and then they reach their destination – an abandoned hospital. Layla leads Hank through, giving him some shiny eye mojo every time he seems to be faltering, and they end up in a sumptuously draped room where an orgy is in full swing.
Layla pushes him onto a bed and has to keep zapping him as Hank looks around. He sees… something… on a beam and then sees that Alex is biting his date, indeed there is a lot of biting going on. He pulls his gun and shoots Layla, who now has a twisted face, three times and starts unloading bullets into demonic faced creatures. They approach him but a gravely, phlanged voice proclaims, “He is mine” and the creature, only referred to as the master (Ismail Kanater), goes for him. Hank is bitten but he manages to pull a bit of curtain and the rising sun forces the thing back. Hank passes out.
When he comes round the place is just an abandoned hospital, no sign of any of the previous night’s activity. These vampires are really adept at cleaning up obviously. A security guard (Adrian N Roberts), who has just come on, has seen no one. Hank gets the Captain out but there is nothing to see, nothing to find and the Captain assumes he has been drinking (true) and fallen and hurt his neck.
Desperate, he goes to Susan but can he convince his ex-wife that he is dealing with vampires and has been bitten? After all he has been stalking her. His display of super strength and his eyes flashing when maced didn’t convince her. However, when she notices, whilst trying to have him committed via the Captain, that he intermittently has no reflection she eventually does believe him.
Other than the reflection, what lore do we have? The vampires are super fast and have that Buffy scary face thing going on. Drinking wolfsbane and cauterising the neck wound with a heated cross will slow the turning process. Otherwise it is general thirst for any liquid over three days and then full turn.
Other lore is the need to sleep in coffins (or if not a need they certainly do so). The ability to blank memories en mass (or at least that is something the 700 years+ old master can do). The strangest bit of lore was the idea of kill the head vampire and save yourself. That isn’t so unusual but it only works for the one who kills the master, all the other vampires die. This is then out with, kill all the others first as you can’t kill him. Pull the stake and they resurrect, which seems out with crossbowing one in the heart and he bursts into flames. Setting them on fire and beheading are also killing moves.
They introduce a new creature – the wraith. These are demons (you know I always thought that wraiths were undead) who are strong, can withstand sunlight and have acid blood – okay where’d that one come from? Seemingly they hate heights – this is disproved – but a long drop or hanging seems to work for killing them. The vampires use them as day time guards and give them the flesh of the victims they have drained.
The acting is, well, not fantastic but not awful either. Dillon makes a good strung out guy, Angel simpers too much, O’Keefe looks hot and Henriksen is wasted in what amounts to a cameo – though he steals the scenes he is in. There are some occasional flashes of gore, ripping a tongue out by teeth springs to mind – and a nudey section is added, just to tick the boxes it seems.
It’s just self-contradictory in places, fluff like and the twist isn’t that exciting. A fairly boring saunter into the dark realms. 3.5 out of 10 is probably fair, dropping below average and not exciting.
The imdb page is here.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Director: Richard Brandes