Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fist of the Vampire – review

Directed by: Len Kabasinski

First released: 2007

Contains spoilers

Okay, so this was on Zone Horror and as I watched it, and recorded it, I knew I’d made a vast mistake. You see I should have gone to bed and watched it the next day as it meant I had to go through it again to screenshot the film (mercifully on fast forward). How bad was it? I received an email from Everlost that said, “Hope you are watching fist of the vampire, I can see a Taliesin rant on the way!”

Now I hate to disappoint and there certainly was a huge amount to rant about. If writer/director/star Len Kabasinski happens across this I’ll say in advance, look away now.

Things started poor, we are back to 1977 and we know this not only from the legend on the screen but because we have corruption lines on the film, ala Grindhouse. A little tip, it worked with Grindhouse because they used the effect over actual film, it doesn’t work when it is obviously digi-cam footage, the texture is all wrong. Anyway a guy sees an attack on a woman, by a vampire, and legs it when chased by a vampire gang.

He runs out to get a bus and… Top tip number two, if you are claiming it is 1977 do not have modern cars in shot. He gets home, calls 911 and tells his wife to get the girls and Steven (Mason Cizmek) out of there. We know at this point there is going to be a slaughter of the family and Steven, who is hiding in the kitchen cupboard, will survive as the only named family member. The slaughter occurs right on cue but…

The wife kills one of the vampires (a stab in the heart) and he goes up in flames (I guess almost spontaneous vampire combustion), setting fire to the house. I did like the idea that a burning vampire would cause considerable collateral damage... even if it didn't quite gel story wise, as we'll see. Sirens wail, the vampires leg and it and over the credits we get the scenes of the fire fighters at the house and some unnamed hysterical girl who turns up. Firstly, why a fire crew turning up, he asked for the cops? The fire engine would have been a little more time coming. Secondly, why are there charred bodies in the yard when they are still fighting the fire? Surely they’d control it first. The police received a call about an attack and intruders, why don’t they suspect arson? How could a child survive the inferno – or at least emerge unscared?

So, as we cut to now, do we assume he is dead? Is he heck dead. We see a cop running after a suspect. Later we discover he is called Lee (Brian Anthony) but it is clear from the get go that he will turn out to be Steven, rescued by firefighters in footage ‘revealed’ at the end of the film. He is chasing a suspect. They end up in a DVD store and prove to be the worst shots in the world as they shoot at each other around flimsy racks with (generously) about 15 foot of space between them. The bullets seem to cause CGI sparks to fly (later we see they do that on soft furnishings also) but never seem to mark the shelves, never mind knock anything of them. Tell a lie, one DVD falls towards the end – Kabasinski’s own “Curse of the Wolf”.

We get bullet time type shots of bullets flying, we even get two clashing mid air. I can tell what they are trying to do here. There is almost a graphic novel quality they are trying to introduce but they do not have the skills or money that went behind Sin City and it all looks like a mess (also, in Sin City, if someone sprayed an uzi folks would get shot... just a thought iro later gunplay). Anyway Lee and suspect run out of bullets and she hits him with a mop. Now as for the fighting… because all this eventually leads to a vampire Fight Club type of thing….

The fighting was awful, it was either badly choreographed or directed but either way it looked awfully fake and stiff. The shame of this is that Kabasinski was a professional martial artist and now choreographs fight scenes and one of the vampires is played by Brian Heffron – aka wrestler Blue Meanie, I am led to understand – who should know a thing or two about fight choreography.

Anyway, Lee gets to a house, still after the woman, and it is full of guys with guns and… suddenly he can aim a gun and slaughters them all. I’m sat there thinking that Internal Affairs are going to have a field day with this. Is he investigated? No, his transfer request comes through and he is to go undercover and infiltrate a gambling, drugs etc operation that happens to be run by our vampires.

Also infiltrating it is Davidson (Cheyenne King) a local cop, and neither knows of the other's law enforcement credentials for a while. It starts to become apparent that the leaders of this little Circle of Fisticuffs, Reno (Len Kabasinski), Nicholas (Brian Heffron) and Jade (Darian Caine), are all vampires. Of course Lee should have known that anyway…

Lore wise, vampires burst into flames when killed. That includes when they burn in the sun, obviously, and the easiest way to get a vampire to burn in the sun is to put his watch two hours forward… So no internal sense of impending sunrises then. When a vampire pops the skin of your belly with her fingernails, during a lesbian tryst, and blood spurts, apparently the correct languid response is, “Hey… Not so rough.”

Talking of which, Darian Caine’s presence guaranteed some nudity and softcore action. Through this we discover that a victim has to be fully drained or they will turn. Jade wakes in a bath of blood with two newly turned vampires and a blood hangover and she hadn’t drained them as she must have passed out. (Incidently, a bath full of blood – I’d say she would have drained them and that the blood would be awfully congealed at that point, but there you go).

Darian Caine, however, does bring a low grade B movie presence to this, which is perhaps missing otherwise. There isn’t much story, there isn’t much sense and the film wasn’t worth my effort in watching. We have seen other no budget B movies that do something clever with the storyline, or have superb dialogue and surprisingly good acting this doesn’t… on any count. Worse, in this case there was obviously some money to play with cgi – they’d have done better to ignore trying to be clever and concentrating on the basic essentials. 1 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On DVD @ Amazon US

On DVD @ Amazon UK


Anonymous said...

Well...thanks for watching it anyways dude! better luck next time!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

I'll watch anything with a vampire in... Honestly though, with the money that was available - considerrably more it looked like than many B's, it is a shame that they didn't aim for the fundamentals and create a solid story/dialogue affair

Anonymous said...

Perversely I now actually WANT to see this film.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Just goes to show that there is no such thing as bad publicity

Anonymous said...

yeah, this is Len K. Thanks for taking to time to watch my film. i dont expect my films to be for everyone, so i expect the bad reviews from time to time,lol. well, better luck this year when i have WARRIORS OF THE APOCALYPSE and WENDIGO:BOUND BY BLOOD coming out. NOt sure you'd like WOTA but WENDIGO might be something you may like....not sure. but thanks anyways, hopefully you'll continue to view my work in the future.

len k

Taliesin_ttlg said...


always willing to give stuff a watch, and there is something I'd ask you to bear in mind and that is that no matter how much it might not appeal to me I always do appreciate it when someone makes a movie - and fully admit its is something I couldn't do.

Anonymous said...

cool dude. my second film, CURSE OF THE WOLF, is playing on Zone Horror again pretty soon. i am happy with the action sequences for the most part though there is some miserable acting (which i take the blame for....i'm the director. the cast & crew dont fail. i fail.) Hope you can check it out! thanks for the respect....that's all a filmmaker, artist, musician,etc.etc. can ask for.