Thursday, December 10, 2009

Vampire Chicks with Chainsaws – review


Director: Carlos Don Diego

Release date: 2006

Contains spoilers

You know, a title like Vampire Chicks with Chainsaws leaves no room for manoeuvre. With a title like that I expect vampire chicks and I expect chainsaws and that, dear blog reader, is exactly what I got. As such I got what I expected… except…

I didn’t particularly expect a sci-fi background, with the source of the vampirism being extra terrestrial. Not that the background worked that well, but this film becomes an example of ‘alien vampire’. I also didn’t expect to be fairly mesmerised by the film and, whilst it had faults, there were actually some well done parts to the film. Incidentally, this is the sort of side project that a star of all three High School Musical *films* would appear in – Olesya Rulin, I refer to you.

an outlanderWe start with men, with automatic weapons and sidearms, running through the woods. It is filmed in such a way that one man appears like he is being pursued by the other two. As it turns out that is not the case and all three are being pursued by something unseen. One man is brought down and dragged off. The long haired man, the one I thought was being pursued by the others, gets to a truck but the engine won’t turn over. The third is killed by the truck – he bleeds green gunk. As the long haired man is dragged from the truck he drops a syringe of green gunk.

Adam Abram as QuinnNext we meet Quinn (Adam Abram). He is in a bad mood – and we discover all this by a pseudo-noir voice over. We actually do not hear Quinn speak in character until 25 minutes into the film and everything we learn up to that point (and in some parts beyond) is via the art of the voiceover. Why is he upset? All he has in life is a beat up trailer, a rundown chainsaw, a broken tractor and an axe. His wife, Rhonda (Deb Lee), left him for his best friend, Jim Bob (Jed Ivie). He signs divorce papers and heads to town to hand them over. We discover that he and Jim Bob used to run a pig factory together – Jim stole his pigs too! He loved Rhonda so much he has her name tattooed upon his arm.

checking on the accident victimHeading back home he contemplates suicide (you see, he had more than he listed, he’s driving a truck and has a handgun), when he hits something. He stops and sees nothing in his mirror but, when he turns around there is a woman, Sariah (Olesya Rulin) in the road. He goes out to her and suddenly she grabs him and injects him with green gunk. Then, having said something in a language he does not understand, she tells him to get out of there, they will come for him and he must find Karel (Jenna Lisonbee).

funky eyesHe is in the bushes by the side of the road when a car pulls up and men jump out. They start peppering the woman with gunfire and then Quinn is noticed. He is pursued into the woods. In a fight with one of them we see the man bleeds green and has a funny old eye effect. Quinn manages to get away but collapses face down in a stream.

strong ladyLuckily two good old boys and a gal, Hollie (Jessi Pearl Mathis), are nearby and using the stream to cool their beers. Hollie has been sent to retrieve some beer and finds Quinn. She drags him back to camp (the good old boys don’t help at all), gives him the kiss of life, wraps him in a sleeping bag and is going to take him to hospital when they are attacked by a blonde woman with a chainsaw. Hollie and Quinn manage to escape for a while but eventually he is captured, dragged off and stuck in a hole (beneath a disused factory, I think).

DIY tattoo removalHe does not know what he has been injected with but it is driving him crazy, causing him to hear voices in his head. He ultimately blames Rhonda for his predicament and, in one of those knee clenching cinematic moments, he scrapes the tattoo from his arm with a sharp rock. There are four women and they question and torture him, but when he mentions Karel’s name her interest is piqued. She realises that his blood is infected and, when men attack the hideout, she rescues him. Now both the men and the women are after them and Karel intends to rescue her sister Sariah.

The pursuit aspects of the film are really quite well done. The obvious cam shot footage actually works in the films favour during these moments (and they are the main parts of the film). What does not work as well is the exposition and, of course, it is through this that we get our background. It isn’t necessarily the acting, both Lisonbee and Abram do a good job together, given what they are working with, but the exposition still ends up as a bit of a chore to sit through. (I will say that the voiceover is a little cheesy and yet somehow works and fits, probably due to a detective noir style voiceover being tied to a hillbilly character).

a little fangageThe exposition is silly, it defies scrutiny and yet does not spoil the film as it is entirely unnecessary. We could have just had vampires and hunters and it would have worked. However, for the sake of recording the lore, here goes. The men are aliens called outlanders. Centuries before one came to earth and bred with a human. The resultant child was a vampire – indeed the blonde vampire we saw earlier. Vampire women cannot die, they can be dismembered and still live. Crosses, sunlight, garlic etc are all myths. Vampire women cannot make other vampires.

blood at mouthMale vampires (who are wiped out) can make other vampires – Karel was turned – and can be killed by stake through the heart. One then has to wonder at the cross breeding aspect, did the outlander breed more times to produce a male, it isn’t mentioned but it would have to be the case. Outlanders hate vampires and hunt them down. When they capture a vampire woman they torture and experiment with them. This has led to the green gunk that can kill female vampires. Quinn’s blood is now poisonous to their kind.

Karel - a Selene clone?Sariah and Karel had originally stolen the toxin, and Karel has also fallen in love with Quinn, but the other vampire women want the unfortunate hillbilly dead as do the outlanders. The whys of this are not entirely explored and, actually, it didn’t matter because it led to more pursuit aspects (and a raid on an alien base) which were the best bits of the film. There was a bit at the end where Karel drinks his blood (already established as being poisonous) and then gives him hers to heal him (as he is gravely injured) and subsequently saves herself (and make herself human, it seems). Maybe I was being thick but I didn’t see how that would happen or why she did not died. Possibly it was because she was turned rather than born - though this was not explained. I was reminded, in passing, of the hybridisation at the end of Underworld, as though someone had been watching that film when they wrote the scene – probably no coincidence as Karel’s look owed much to that film as well.

So, rubbish lore but I was really taken by the film. I was sucked in and enjoyed myself – despite the exposition moments. I’ll go as far as giving this 4 out of 10 – which, I think, is a strong score for what, ultimately, the film is.

The imdb page is here.


Anonymous said...

Wait -- you know who's starred in all three High School Musicals? Taliesin, I'm shocked! You teeny-bopper, you!

I can't believe people actually make movies like this. Takes all kinds, I suppose...

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Ahh... Nicole, the joy of research on imdb - it opens up a whole world of fact (not all of it accurate, but in this case I believe it is)