Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Polish Vampire in Burbank – review

dvdDirector: Mark Pirro

Release date: 1985

Contains spoilers

Comedy is a funny old thing – if you pardon the pun. Of course personal tastes effect what one deems as funny or not, that is a given. When it comes to this no-budget effort from 1985 I cannot help but compare it to the recent UK cinema release Lesbian Vampire Killers (LVK), mainly because I watched this just after the more modern, high budget film with ‘professional’ comedy actors. Also because it became clear that the later film actually shared at least one comedy concept with this.

What I found was that this film might not have been either the greatest vampire movie, or the greatest comedy, ever made but it was certainly funnier than the modern vehicle. Like LVK it is obsessed with sexual simile and in this case that is all focused around Dupah (Mark Pirro) – the Polish vampire of the title. Incidentally the film doesn’t state that Dupah is Polish; characters guess that Dupah is a Polish name, whilst Dupah himself never asked which ‘old country’ his folks emigrated from. However Dupah is, I believe, Polish for ass.

Hugh O. Fields as fatherThe film begins with very grainy shots of a gothic looking castle. The graininess of the film really does serve to hide some of the low budget issues. It seems there is a large gothic castle in Burbank – it is the sort of incongruous feature that Tim Burton likes to throw into his films, unfortunately this doesn’t have the budget to make it as apparent within the neighbourhood. Dupah wakes in the castle and rises from his coffin but his father (Hugh O. Fields) and sister, Yvonne (Marya Gant) are already on the hunt.

Mark Pirro as DupahAs Dupah settles down to watch the Fearless Vampire Killers, hosted in this case by Elvira, his father is busy feasting on a prostitute (Louise Samuels) whilst Yvonne enjoys the pimp (Tyrone Dubose). They are about to leave but she says he is forgetting Dupah. Father siphons some blood from a whore into a plastic baggy. Back home they give the blood to Dupah (who complains that it is not warm enough), but father has had enough – Dupah must go out and lose his virtue. Yvonne will take him. Of course the vampire bite is directly associated with penetration in this movie, leading to much innuendo. Dupah’s problem is that he believes his fangs are too small.

believe in JesusAs they head out Yvonne tells him of Sphincter (Eddie Deezen) his long missing brother. Yvonne had to take him out – Sphincter didn’t have fang envy, he couldn’t even stand the sight of blood. She took Sphincter to a bar, picked up a guy and had him watch. Then it was his turn. He tried to pick up a woman but was kicked out of the bar, he then approached a girl outside (Catharine Wheatley) but she produced a cross and asked him if he believed that Jesus was his saviour. Yvonne walked away in disgust, she assumes he never came home as the shame was too great.

leaving the enema vampiresErnie (Steven Dorsch) and his date, Delores Lane (Lori Sutton), come out of a cinema. They have been to see the movie hit “the Enema Vampires”. Ernie is less than impressed, though Delores adored the film as she is a vampire fan. Ernie thinks she is freaky and they argue. Ernie leaves and Dupah approaches the girl. Yvonne slinks off – believing her work to be done – and Dupah asks the girl to go for coffee, she agrees. They talk until a rooster call is heard – what’s a rooster doing in the city, is asked, artistic licence is the reply. Dupah has to race home from the sun but has arranged to meet her again.

Dupah's dreamIn his coffin he is visited by the skeleton of Sphincter – who has come to help him (in a device that was rather reminiscent of Jack in ‘An American Werewolf in London’). Thus we get to discover what did happen to Sphincter. When he wouldn’t say that he believed that Jesus was his saviour the girl turned, revealing her Judo for Jesus logo on her shirt. She kicked his ass and knocked him out. He came round but it was already dawn and he perished in the sun. Now he intends to help his brother. Following this Dupah has a dream that, due to being shot in black and white and due to his clothing, was almost reminiscent of Martin and was clearly the vampiric equivalent of a wet dream.

Dupah, sphincter and the QueerwolfFrom here on in what we have is an atypical sexual misadventure film with the gags skewed slightly so that they are about vampires (but packed with innuendo still). Dupah must try and get his fangs into Delores, steering a path through her ditzy roommate (Bobbi Dorsch), a jealous ex-boyfriend and the misunderstandings that occur when confronted by the Queerwolf (Paul Farbman) – a concept which, incidentally, would be followed up in the 1988 Pirro film ‘Curse of the Queerwolf’. It has to be said that this predates LVK’s gay werewolf gag by almost quarter of a century and, to belabour the point, the film takes the standard ‘werewolf rhyme’ and alters it: “Even a wrist that is strong and firm and holds itself up high may become limp when the moon is out and the owner becomes bi.” It might not be sophisticated but its funnier than the LVK gag.

post coital... I mean post bite...The lore was fairly much as explained. Vampires drink blood, burn in sunlight (and become talking skeletons, which is genre unusual!) and, it appears, have fang size issues. After several bite sessions a male vampire is won’t to roll over and snore.

The acting is not great, the gags are silly and the budget is painfully low but it had something. Perhaps it was the fact that I watched it so close to having struggled through LVK, perhaps it just had a stupidity and charm all of its own. 4 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Anonymous said...

"Dupa" is "arse" or "fanny"

I'd forgotten how the Yanks like to make Poles the butt of their jokes. Coming as I do from a Polish family I think I'll give this one a miss.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Simon, to be fair - other than his name and the fact that they keep asking, "is that Polish?" in respect of it there really isn't much to the ethnicity side of this and Dupah very much is the hero of the piece.

However, I can understand a degree of wariness.