Monday, August 24, 2009

Gypsy Vampire – review

dvdDirector: Conrad Brooks

Release date: 2005

Contains spoilers

Poor old Conrad Brooks, his films have not fared well on the blog so far. He directed the atrocious Blood Slaves of the Vampire Wolf and appeared in the even worse the Ironbound Vampire. Brooks was a regular in Ed Wood’s films, and we looked at Plan 9 from Outer Space - not a Vamp film but, in its own way it had a naive charm through its atrocious filmmaking. This was not a lesson learnt it seems.

Perhaps it is because these modern films feel so cynical. Wood believed, it seems, in what he did but I watch films like Vampire Wolf or Ironbound and I can’t believe that they didn’t realise how bad things were and thus feel that these are cynical throw away pieces of rubbish designed to leach some money from the punters. This brings us to Gypsy Vampire – the first of three of a series!

the first victimA grainy shot of a lake moves across to a girl (Valerie Saunders) and an older woman. The girl has had her stop her car as she wishes to visit her grandmother’s grave, she will walk home. The acting is wooden (at best) but the girl is perky (at least). She prays at the grave when a man appears and introduces himself as Count Lugo (Bruce ‘Porkchop’ Lindsay) – the gypsy vampire. The girl produces a cross. He grabs it, growls and she screams as the scene fades.

the castleNow, a couple of things to note. I have no idea why Count Lugo has an eye patch nor why he is a ‘gypsy vampire’ – is it just a name, was he a gypsy? The background is never offered. Why the cry at grabbing the cross – he wears one himself? Actually the entire religion thing is messed up lore wise and would we expect anything less? So, anyway, we have met our vampire and I have to say that we are not in the US either but somewhere else, yet somewhere that had ‘Indian Burial Grounds’ – we’ll get to that.

John Durham, we think, as Dr CabasaA cab pulls up at a bar and the driver is told that his fare is inside. That fare is one Dr Cabasa. Who is he played by? According to the film credits and imdb he is played by John Durham. According to the imdb picture and bio, John Durham has found a fountain of youth, defeated male pattern baldness and grown several inches – at least if the John Durham shown is the one who played Cabasa! Anyway the castle is two miles away but the taxi driver won’t get that close so will drop the Doctor off after 1 mile. The point of this being? Probably getting me to lose my will to live.

IlsaAt the castle Cabasa meets Lucy (Kathi Garman), servant to the Count. She makes the Dr comfortable and then wakes the count from his coffin. The Count’s love is called Ilsa and she is a skeleton but the Count can communicate with her through osteomanopoly – the song of bone. She was, like the Count, a vampire until 1727 when she attacked a man who was a priest in disguise and the drinking of the blood of a holy man turned her into bones. Why! Utterly incongruous with the fact that the Count wears a cross, this is the most silly new lore addition.

the BeastThe Count shows Cabasa a secret lab. In it is the body of a zombie girl (who died because she got too old!) and he wants the Doctor to transplant all the bones of Ilsa into the zombie girl so that Ilsa might live again. Its doable says Cabasa, but he’ll need blood. Vera (Sandy Rose) will assist him, states the Count but then they discover that a man has wandered into the castle – one Hippie John Criswell (Johnny Sullivan). He is sent to the beast and the Doctor is encouraged to watch. The beast itself looks like some form of vinyl clad refugee from a Marilyn Manson video.

the filmmakersThrow into the mix a couple of documentary makers (Marvin Kennedy and Joe Tilton) who were, I'm guessing, meant to be comedy relief. Some tall tales from Cap (Conrad Brooks) who used to run the cemetery before it was shut down due to being too creepy, what with it being built on an old ‘Indian Burial Ground’ and all, plus the other characters who had absolutely no story purpose. Also throw in a tombstone that falls over in a breeze – ala Plan 9 (with the knocked over tombstone) and either set up or cynically left in.

the Count is deadThe Doctor gets cold feet and turns on the Count, which gives us our final piece of new lore. He stabs Vera – who turns out to be the Count’s relative and, as such, she hasn’t been bitten because you just don’t do that – and then gives the Count a drink of blood without telling him that it is hers and (just to make sure) laces it with lots of garlic. This kills the Count.

If the story seems messed up, then the locations are even poorer. This has been shot wherever they could get and it looks awful. The sound is inconsistent and this is dependant on the shot, something that makes me think they used an inbuilt camera mic (at times anyway). The lighting is so poor that interior shots often leach down to almost being black and white, but it is not artistic just poor filmmaking. The acting is consistently wooden, makeup effects are juvenile and yet… Despite it all I thought I caught the faint aroma or earnestness in the film (just cutting under the general stench). Not enough to rescue this but there just the same.

1 out of 10. The imdb page is here.

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