Saturday, March 21, 2009

First Impressions: Lesbian Vampire Killers

I went into the cinema knowing that this film has been fairly panned by most critics but with hope in my heart – after all it had a redeeming feature in the first instance… vampires. Before I tell you whether such hope was in vain let us look very briefly at the plot.

The village of Cragwich was invaded by the evil lesbian vampire queen Carmilla (Silvia Colloca) until a knight (Mathew Horne) returned from the crusades and discovered that his bride, Eva (Vera Filatova), had been seduced by the vampire. He forged a magical sword, the sword of D’ildo, and slew the vampire but not before she cursed him and his bloodline. From then on – at eighteen – all the village girls transformed into lesbian vampires. It was said in prophecy that with the blood of the last of his line, mixed with the blood of a virgin, could resurrect Carmilla – something that would plunge the world into the endless night of the blood moon – but only the last of his line could destroy her forever.

Jimmy (Mathew Horne) has been dumped by his girlfriend Judy (Lucy Gaskell) – this is the seventh time she has left him. His friend Fletch (James Corden) has been fired as a children’s entertainer for punching a seven year old. As they have no money to go to Ibiza (Jimmy lent his savings to Judy so she could buy a car) he, drunkenly, throws a dart in a map as they will go hiking. The dart hits Cragwich.

Fletch is less than impressed with the concept of hiking and the countryside in general – and smashes Jimmy’s mobile when Judy phones him to try and get back with him – until he sees a group of girls leaving the local pub and getting in a van. They go to the pub but it is full of men, however free beer and a promise of free lodgings, in the same cottage to which the girls have been sent, soon perks him up. The village vicar (Paul McGann) is angry with the locals – he knows that the deal is to send visitors to the cottage for the vampires so they don’t attack the village – and then realises what we had already gathered; Jimmy is the heir of the knight. As the vicar's daughter (Emer Kenny) turns eighteen that night, fast action might save her from her fate.

The boys catch up with the girls – Swedish students studying the legend of Carmilla – and go to the cottage. Soon, however, Heidi, Anke (Louise Dylan) and Trudi (Ashley Mulheron) have all been turned into lesbian vampires, leaving the boys and the virginal Lotte (Myanna Buring) besieged.

Firstly the good news. There is some rather fine lesbian vampire imagery through the film – lots of fangs, ethereal vampires flouncing around and so forth. It owes lots to Hammer but that is no bad thing. It also plays with some vampire genre staples in a way that is amusing. Stick with me, states the vicar, for he knows all about killing vampires. Well so does everyone, the retort is, a list of killing methods rattled off and the mass of genre films and books pointed out. Fair enough so far however we then come to the bad news: the film, touted as a comedy, generally fails to be funny.

In the main it is a series of cock gags and, whilst there is nothing wrong with that necessarily, they have to be funny to work. For my self, I don’t entirely blame the script (though it has real problems). Corden and Horne might have a touch of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost envy (I think comparisons to Shawn of the Dead are unfortunate – there is a much more fitting programme to believe this ripped off, to me at least) but envy is all it is. They are not engaging, do not fit the roles, have no charisma and are just not funny. Also, in a plot so thin, one wonders at the leaps of faith the writers introduced – Judy turns up (of course we know the vampires have turned her, even though Jimmy doesn’t realise it) but we wonder how she found him - the film does not say. That's not to mention the fact that they even managed to have plot holes in the film!

The vampires are fairly standard, holy water kills, crosses ward, beheading and staking finishes them off. There are some nice kills – beheading by the chain of a crucifix springs to mind as does putting a vampire in the shower and holding her in the water as the priest prays, so that it is a shower of holy water – but one has to wonder at the way they die. I was curious as to why they died in gushes of white gloop, as I watched the trailer. Watching the film it is obviously symbolic of sperm. The lesbian vampire is penetrated by a stake and is stopped being a lesbian vampire as she explodes in a shower of sperm – Freud wouldn’t have a field day as it is so obvious. The Queen of the lesbian vampires can be killed only by a magic sword, there are endless comments about the pommel looking like a cock and it is the sword of D’ildo… oh… dildo… at least killing a female vampire by silver dildo in the sex comedy "The Case of the Smiling Stiffs" was original.

Yes the message is clear, lesbians are evil… so intimated one critic as they slagged of the misogynistic aspect of the film calling it a “cruel and furtive revenge fantasy”. It is, however, clear that the filmmakers just tried to play with the genre staple of the lesbian vampire - but were hamfisted about it. If the film fails it is not because of this but because of the lack of humour and decent lead actors.

So, if this isn’t a Shawn of the Dead wannabe (and if it is, it failed miserably) or a Withnail and I wannabe (the only similarity is that two friends go into the countryside and Paul McGann is in the film, who incidentally puts a sterling performance in as the swearing priest and vampire slayer, certainly giving the film more than it deserved), what is it? Well to me Steve Coogan did it first and made a much, much better effort when he made the episode of Dr Terrible’s House of Horrible Lesbian Vampires Lovers of Lust. To be honest you are much better off getting the Coogan DVD, as it is genuinely funny. So, nice visuals, Paul McGann is good but the film fails to be funny. A full review when the DVD is available. The imdb page is here.


CrabStiX said...

Cheers for the warning... Thats a few quid saved all round by my calculation.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

as I say, some nice imagery... but whether its worth the cost of cinema entry is very doubtful

Anonymous said...

I had been looking forward to seeing it...until Horne and Corden started airing on BBC Three. What a load of crap. And that's being generous. So it's no surprise to hear that the film, too, is shit. It sounds so bad I don't even want to watch it just to see how bad it is, and that is seriously bad.

I'll have a look for that Coogan one though.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Simon, I've not watched the Horne and Cordon series, but I have been told it is awful.

The Coogan vehicle is on amazon at around a fiver for the series

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I ordered it shortly after leaving my last comment, so I should have it by Tuesday.


thanks for the review, but damn ... I was looking forward to this. What a shame. You'd think a film with lesbians and vampires is already halfway to a slam-dunk, so the other half must really suck!

Got any great lesbian vampire movies you could recommend instead ?

Taliesin_ttlg said...

It really does depend what you are looking for. I mentioned in the article Lesbian Vampires Lovers of Lust, iro comedy.

For a more gothic feel you can't go wrong with Hammer's the Vampire Lovers.

On a more serious level I adore Daughters of Darkness, which - if you get the edition pictures on the review comes with Blood Spattered Bride. Also, I really do like Vampyres.

Seriously though, use the blogger search the blog function with key word le=sbian - there is a whole rang of films (good and bad) that'll come up.