Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Vampz – review

Director: Steve Lustgarten

Release date: 2004

Contains spoilers

The name of the film put me off, I have to admit. Yes, it is another film where the concept seems to be that the adding of a ‘z’ onto the end of a word will make it all street. However… I will always try and give things a fair go and whilst this is fatally flawed I was surprisingly impressed at times. Occasionally it reached too high and crashed heavily as a result, but…

The film begins with a woman, Lillith (Sierra Tawan), in a red cape walking down the street. A man starts to follow her and then pursues as she slips down an alley. Dude… I know you’re up to no good but if you see a mysterious woman, in a cape, who nips down a dark alley of her own volition then just turn around and walk away.

Not that he does that, but he does lose sight of her for a moment. There is a door and she is inside, plastic on the floor and she tells him to take his clothes off – he complies and we see she wears black leather beneath the red satin cape. They get it on and then, after he threatens to climax before her, she fangs out and bites. We see cops rushing through the streets sirens ablazin’.

These vampires do not just suck blood; she rips at his stomach, eviscerating the poor chap and she chows on his innards. The cops are getting nearer – why we don’t ever really know. The male cop, Keith (Lamik Blake, Blood Scarab), goes down the alley whilst his partner drives around the side. His flashlight shines as a blood covered Lillith appears, crying, saying he raped her. He tells her to stop but, when his partner comes, he turns away for a moment and then she is gone.

Eve applies her makeup
A house, and Eve and a man are in the bathroom. They have had a night of passion but she sends him on his way. He is at his car when Keith pulls up and enters the house. Eve is dressed and tells him she has a job interview. He isn’t happy, she wasn’t meant to work, but she is disparaging about his income and makes comment about him hitting her. Theirs is not a happy marriage. Another man, Dennis, drives a van whilst on his phone getting directions. He parks, runs to an underpass and carries Lillith to the van. She had burnt her leg and tells him not to tell Delilah (Tawanna Browne).

fangs on show
Dennis wakes Lillith, Delilah and Cleo (Chantal Lashon). It is blood packs for dinner again. Delilah notices Lillith’s burnt leg – Lillith has an uncontrollable need for sex and fresh kills. Dennis serves the three women with the hope that he will be turned... Delilah has had an idea. She has advertised the warehouse (or so it would seem to be) where they live as a massage parlour. Their first customer Fred (Raymond Parker) is treated to a foursome and is eaten for his trouble. Lillith mentions having teeth where he wouldn’t expect them… Vagina dentata? The film doesn’t confirm.

The Professor
Keith bobs home to give Eve flowers and finds her mid-coitus up against the fridge. He beats her lover until his partner enters and pepper sprays him. Eve and the lover scarper. As it is, after the lover abandons her outside a hospital, Eve ends up wandering around LA in nothing but a shirt and meets Dennis who gives her the address of the warehouse. There is a deeper reason for this bizarre act of altruism, as we shall see. A Professor von Eatle turns up at Keith’s the next day, he wears a leather jacket with Guns and Roses patches and has the worst put on accent ever. The Captain has offered Keith’s cooperation.

Dennis, the daylight henchman
So… Eve ends up with the girls and Keith and Dennis actually meet… why? It seems a psychic link builds between a vampire and the observer of them feeding, leading Keith, and by default Eve through their marriage, to meet the vampires through coincidence and synchronicity. Okay, I didn’t overly like that as an idea at all but it propelled the story forward, with the vampires wanting to turn Eve and Keith wanting to save his wife and able to find them through psychic flashes. Seemingly this psychic link fades after a few days.

eaten to the bone
As for other lore... The vampires eat their victims right down to bone. I was impressed with some of the gorier feeding scenes, they worked really well despite the lower budget. They are of different ages. Lillith is a few hundred years, Cleo was turned in ancient Egypt and Delilah ain’t saying but is older still. Vampires live in nests of three to six.

crosses work
We get a moment with a cross being pushed against Cleo’s head and it burning and killing her. Given that she was pre-Christian I guess that there was a direct divine intervention or that it is the faith of the wielder that is important. Stakes apparently work but, with a deft use of telekinesis the stake is pulled from one hunter’s hand and into another one’s eye.

in the sun
Sunlight is also very effective but the effects around this were more miss than hit. The initial burning looked rather good but the melting puppets looked unreal and they should have gone for a less is more approach with this. We don’t really get much more in the way of lore (we do see a dental x-ray that suggests that the fangs are embedded in the jaw line when not extended).

nice symbolism
I do want to mention the visual of Eve, wrapped in cellophane and surrounded by mummified corpses. This was a symbolic moment indicating her movement from the realm of mortals to the realm of the undead and was actually a brief moment of genius that needs praising.

The acting wasn’t brilliant but I have seen a lot worse. The actual story needed tightening and I hated the psychic link lore – simply because it just seemed too convenient and a little too casual to build such a link. The effects went from the unusually good – the gore moments – to the blooming awful – the burning in sunlight moments. However, all in all I was more impressed with this than I thought I would or could be. 4 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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