Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Vegas Vampires – review

Director: Fred Williamson

Release date: 2003

Contains spoilers

Yes, you read right, Vegas Vampires was directed (and also featured in a supporting role) Fred Williamson (From Dusk till Dawn and Revamped) and has a large slice of blaxploitation with a degree of nunsploitation at its core. It unfortunately looks a little cheaper than one would like – but still better than many an offering out there and there are some scenes where it looks as though the editing process has messed things around and thus a few of the scenes seem slightly out of whack.

John, I'm only dancing
It begins, after a run down the Vegas strip, in a club where rappers play and a man, Vulture (Eric Etebari, Kiss of the Vampire) struts around like he owns the place. He goes onto the dance floor and cuts in to a dance with one woman, a second comes along and all three dance together. Then he takes them off for a drink and slips something into the first girl's drink.

wall crawl
Two cops are in a car, Andrew (Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister, Dracula 3000) and Eddie (Glenn Plummer). Eddie is a garlic munching type of guy – wonder how that’ll come in handy – and Andrew wants to take a look around the block one more time. This time they spot the van they’re looking for. Having questioned, brutally, a homeless guy, Andrew goes in leaving Eddie with the homeless man. Inside Vulture has just brought the drugged girl (now wearing trousers, go figure) to the vampire master Q (Alex Wilkinson) – he will be rewarded in time with the ability to daywalk and fly like Q. Vulture has gone when Andrew gets there and Q flies off (with black blur effect) and wall-crawls away.

homeless vampire
Outside, Eddie cuffed the homeless guy to the van, whilst he went back to his car. By the time he returns the guy is gone, the cuffs hanging empty off the van. Then the guy is on Eddie and has sprouted fangs. The garlic on his breath and in his shirt pocket saves his life. We then see, when the other cops get there including Captain Richards (Mikki Val) and pointless cameo moment for Daniel Baldwin (Vampire$) as a Detective, that Andrew has clearly been mentioning vampires before. Across the street we see youths hanging around and the annoying phenomena of logos being blurred on their shirts - a step against product placement too far as it lifts you out of any form of suspension of disbelief.

Carl, Philip and Lisa
In a recording studio Carl (Fredro Starr, the Addiction) mixes a young singer. Also in the studio are Philip (Rio) and Lisa (Carla Di Bello). Philip has sold his car to buy an engagement ring and Lisa agrees to marry him. What he hasn’t told her, as he is saving the news for a surprise, is that he has also just successfully graduated from the police academy. Carl has a motor home and is going to run them to Vegas to get married, after which they will drop in on Philip’s step-father – Andrew. You just know they are going to get drawn into the vampire mess brewing on the streets of Las Vegas.

Rick & Fred
Fred Pittman (Fred Williamson) was a cop in Vegas who, along with his partner Rick (Richard Roundtree, Blade the Series), left the force to become PIs elsewhere. Fred has arranged for a little visit to their old stomping ground and soon they are up to their eyeballs in vampires as well. This leads to the marvellous moment of Fred literally kicking a vampires head off! Seriously though, whilst almost a cameo for them both, their characters are just so cool!

Alex Wilkinson as Q
So we have our main players – bar Laura (Annelise Curra), a mobster’s daughter and porn actress who has gone missing (taken by Q) and whom Andrew is being privately paid to find. The general story is that Q has to find a vampire bride once every 100 years and produce a new master vampire. In the meantime he has let loose a veritable plague of lesser vampires. The story isn’t big, or clever, it is just there to put some characters in peril and others to act cool.

the two faces of Sister Angela Marie
Wait, however, I said it was a nunsploitation also and we do get Sister Angela Marie (Jaqueline Fleming) a nun who is part of a papal endorsed anti-vampire task force. She strips her habit to reveal a Xena type bodice, carries stakes and a crossbow and kicks ass – she also hints later that the habit is a formality and that she can indulge in a little slap and tickle. She gives us most of our lore, which seems to be aim for the head or the heart (later, in a special effect faux pas she gets a vampire plumb in the heart with a crossbow bolt and he only falls after the second bolt hits his abdomen). A double staking is needed for Q.

burning in the sun
It isn’t brilliant but it is fun – in parts. Other bits seem too silly and there are some bloomin’ awful fangs occasionally. I wasn’t impressed with the black blur for wall crawls/flight nor was I massively enamoured with the burning scenes as they looked too post-production. Most of the vampires seem animalistic – but that was a purposeful move on the part of Q when he turned them – and yet they are also able to blend into a crowd. Somehow one feral vampire and Vulture are able to be brought in by two beat cops, no problem, and yet a handful of vampires seem to bring the police station to its knees.

bad fangs
However, this had fun at the heart of it and I am fairly sure Fred Williamson had his tongue firmly wedged in his cheek when he filmed it. 4 out of 10 is probably way too generous, but then Fred Williamson does kick a vampire’s head clean off when fighting alongside Richard Roundtree.

The imdb page is here.


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