Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Vamp or Not? Prime Evil

The 1988 Roberta Findlay directed Prime Evil would not seem to be, on first glance, a candidate for “Vamp or Not?” The description of a bunch of devil worshippers in New York sacrificing victims to gain power and youth sounds more on the atypical satanic cult lines.

This does, however, tend to fall onto vampire filmographies and lead bad-guy Thomas Seaton (William Beckwith) recently made it to a list of the top twenty baddest blood suckers. At this point regular readers will know that I will want to investigate.

The film starts during the time of the Black Death and Seaton, a priest, renounces God for Lucifer/Satan (the names are used interchangeably it seems).

horned God or puppet?
Cut to the modern day and a priest warns the Bishop that they are back before dying of a heart attack. We see a rite then, where a man is asked by Seaton – who is still around – whether the girl on the altar is pure. He says she is. He is then asked if she is a relative and she is his daughter. The deal seems to be that if you sacrifice one of your own blood (preferably a female virgin) you’ll get 13 years of power and will not age but you will have to renew at the next 13 year mark. The thing they worship seems to be physically there – it is suggested at one point it is a pre-Christian horned god.

Satan's Blood
When, later, we get to see the beginning of the rite, we see it is attended by three hand maidens dedicated to Satan of their “own free will” – inverted commas because it appears they were mind controlled and – later – they remember nothing. The victim is then given blood to drink – called Satan’s blood. This is the only blood drinking evident and it is the victim who drinks. During this sequence the hand puppet devil is attacked and the worshippers all age and die – so their lives are tied to it. Seaton’s isn’t for reasons not explored so let us look at him.

William Beckwith as Thomas Seaton
He is very much modelled on the Lugosi/Lee type Dracula. This can be seen in the fact that despite maintaining the masquerade of priesthood he is seductive and seems to have eye mojo and mind control powers. Indeed, during one such sequence we get the band of light over the eyes effect made famous in Dracula.

unnatural strength
As I say he continues to act as a priest, his base of operations is a church. He actually states that he is more powerful on consecrated ground – after all Lucifer is a fallen angel. Thus religious trappings have the exact opposite effect on him than they would a vampire. He is immortal it seems and certainly, when shot at, marches happily through a hail of bullets without so much as a scratch. We also get an indication that he is very, very strong. None of this, however, if pushing me towards saying he is a vampire.

Why not? His powers are infernally bestowed (this sometimes happens with vampires as well, I realise, but in this case it seems he is simply a priest of an infernal religion) there is no indication of blood drinking on his part. All in all I’d have to say that this is Not Vamp. The imdb page is here.

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