Sunday, November 28, 2010

Red Scream Vampyres – review

Director: David R Williams

Release date: 2009

Contains spoilers

This film was released in the same year as its stable-mate Red Scream Nosferatu (RSN), though this was released marginally ahead according to iMDB. Like RSN this was ostensibly a remake this time of José Ramón Larraz’ Vampyres.

In the first instance this does mean that Williams has very good taste when it comes to classic vampire movies but RSN was something of a mess. This is less of a mess, despite some bad acting from some of the victims the main cast seem natural, there isn’t the same idiosyncrasies that plagued RSN and he manages to develop quite an atmosphere – though it is forced in places. What it does do is miss the point of Vampyres by a country mile and thus the film’s aim is off.

“Tell me child, what do you know about vampyres?” we hear and then we see images of blood and flesh as a death metal soundtrack screeches out and we see a membrane like cocoon. Within it writhe three vampires, Theodora (Satu Makeda), Elenora (Valeria Dombrovschi) and a third (Caitlin Blackman). Why three? Who knows, the third doesn’t come into the film proper. The cocoon was a nice touch but the actual blurb suggests these are 1000 year old vampires – so we lose sight of the original film already as the original is a tale of revenge beyond the grave rather than ancient creatures.

Piano floats through as a man stumbles through the corridors of a decrepit building, he seems to limp. He ends up chained and we get an indication that this is being filmed but that is unimportant. The two main vampires are with him and he is scratched open. We cut to a man hitching (Sean-Michael Argo) and a car passes then returns. It is driven by Theodora. This then is a change around as the victims were drivers and the vampires hitchers in the original.

Theodora takes him to the abandoned Buffalo Terminal – the place where she and Elenora have made their home. As she gets in we note two things, it is daylight, but she does seem to keep to the building shadows – unfortunately that doesn’t stop the sun hitting her full face and the camera capturing it, no reaction is forthcoming. She asks the hitcher if he enters of his own free will – dude, at that point run. But he goes in and she gives him a change of clothes, feeds him and give him wine (the wine seems drugged in this). Yup – he’s a gonner.

Sky (Andrea Bentin) is walking through the building with a gun. She walks in on the vampires in a lesbian clinch and kills them. This, in a distorted way, mirrors the opening of the original except that it isn’t the Ted character – DieTrich (Jess Weber) in this – with the gun, plus they are already vampires rather than women murdered and thus the scene loses its story impetus. It is a dream anyway. Sky wakes, gets up to look out of the caravan window and screams. Her partner, Morrissey (Ed Bergtold), asks what is wrong and she describes a bloodied hand on the glass. He looks outside; nothing and there is no hand print on the glass.

After a bizarre but effective scene of the vampires talking, mentioning child murder and the fact that humans are animals, we cut to Sky and Morrissey looking round a warehouse next to the terminal building (we later discover that they are urban archaeologists). In the building he finds a symbol and tells her he has seen t before in Bosnia (go figure) and… well it is essentially an image depicting vagina dentate. All well and good but… that misses the point of the original also; Larraz’ film wasn’t about men-hating women, castrating (or killing) their victims in an ultra-femminst frenzy but of two women wronged, seeking revenge within a psychosexual drama. Back to Morrissey and he finds something with cuniform on it (no real explanation there and the translation – at the end of the film – was muffled in soundtrack) and cuts his hand – the blood moving strangely on the floor after they go to get him medical attention.

 Anyway, Theodora picks up DieTrich, who reminds her of someone (but as she wasn’t murdered by him that was almost irrelevant) and doesn’t kill him but does keep him, feeding on him. Much to the chagrin of Elenora who wants him killed. As in the original he meets the caravan couple and survives as others are killed. The wine connoisseur from the original morphs into Moby (Robert Bozek), who seems psychotic and Bozek seems to be channelling his Renfield role from RCN (or vice versa). The vampires do meet Sky and mark her (with protection rather than a sign of recognition) and William’s tries to build a reason (it was a tantalising unexplained event in the original) – Sky is prime material for turning, she is also newly pregnant (that seems to mean little in the grand scheme of things).

I must mention the bizarre ending because, rather than a guilt wracked Ted we get a sword wielding DieTrich and zombies – yes, zombies and no, I don’t know why either.

Despite missing the main point of the original, and thus having little actual point in itself, this wasn’t the worst effort I have ever come across. The principles, as I mentioned, all seemed to fill their roles with a natural fluidity – though all the disposable victims, to a man, were badly acted. The cocoon idea was nice (and it is mentioned that they sleep in it later) but who was the third vampire?

Williams did manage to fill the screen with a level of style and atmosphere, kudos given the low budget, but this would probably have worked better if he had ignored the Larraz classic and created something original. One might argue that Williams was making conscious changes for a reason, unfortunately I doubt it but if so the change in direction from the original didn't particularly work too well. However, in both of Williams’ films that I have seen there has been potential and this fulfils it in a much more satisfying way than RSN, but it still cannot get close to the original.

4 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

1 comment:

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Why no screenshots? I was asked to remove them due to ongoing legal action. I have done so gladly as I do not wish to get in the middle of something like that!

The DVD box image has been changed for an alternative one. The image appearing on the Amazon advert is entirely down to Amazon.