Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Vampires on Bikini Beach – review

Director: Mark Headley

Release date: 1988

Contains spoilers

With a title such as “Vampires on Bikini Beach” what do you expect? I offer for comparison the title Malibu Beach Vampires and note that I gave that poor excuse for a film 0 out of 10.

Well... This one wasn’t as bad… just.

coffin on car
It starts with a beach at night and a radio show. The Venice Beach area has suffered from murders and the locals are crying vampire. As we watch a car drive with a coffin on its roof the newscaster suggests that there are no such things as vampires. Then we see a silhouetted figure carrying the coffin, on its back, over a footbridge – for an inordinately long amount of time. Eventually there is a house and the coffin is taken inside… trouble is, the whole sequence really has nothing to do with the rest of the film! We see four girls at night, one walks off on her own, down an alley! She immediately looks around nervously and is then grabbed by a cloaked figure… the filmmakers singularly fail to impart any sense of peril into the scene.

Bob and Kim on Bikini Beach
We see a woman, outside a hospital room, she is called Judy (Jennifer Badham) and she doesn’t know how it ended up as it did – they only went cruising that day. Actually the day she refers to is a day on which not a lot happens, but it is where the story starts and Judy is our voice-over at ‘key’ points of the film. So there was Judy and her friends Clarke (Amanda Hughes) and Wynette (Jennifer Jostyn) they were cruising with their friend Kim (Nancy Rogers). They get to the beach and Kim goes off with surfer dude Bob (Stephen Mathews), the other girls taking Kim’s car. Then they meet ‘weird’ Harold (Todd Kaufman) and Judy goes off with him. Later, however, they all meet on the beach. Harold mentions the recent murders, which Kim thinks is creepy, and the girls agree to see Bob and Harold in their band.

God I wish they hadn’t, you see the band that Bob (on keyboards) and Harold (on drums) are in play the most asinine 80s AOR and we have to hear track after track through the film (or it felt like that). There are at least two full tracks – film fillers, of which there are plenty of other examples – and the sound of the crowd clapping is clearly dubbed on later and is so thin and reedy that it might actually be the sound of one hand clapping. Anyway, after the gig Kim goes back to Bob’s (rather expensive looking) apartment and discovers that he is also a professional photographer! Next we get the no titillation, soft-focused, AOR-accompanied sex.

seventh son of a seventh son
During the previous scenes we did cut to head vampire Falto (Mariusz Olbrychowski) who is brought a young woman for a snack. He reveals that he wants to die. He became a vampire because he was the seventh son of a seventh son and yet he longs to find the one who will love him enough to drive a stake through his heart. It won’t be this woman, however, and so, in the meantime, he is content for his second in command, Demos (William Hoo), to continue his plans for world domination!

Dr Gower killed
So long story (or at least it felt that way as this film drags and drags) short, a couple of robed figures barge past Bob and Kim in an alley, dropping a book as they go. The book is full of arcane symbols and becomes red hot at times. They are directed to Dr Gower (Jacques Dury), a priest who offers to translate the book. He is killed for his trouble and the book stolen. Kim and Bob don’t call the police but, rather, find a set of notes Gower made and decide to crack the case themselves.

Judy and Harold on date
It turns out that Harold is a computer whizz and they eventually discover that the book was a vampire book of the dead and contains rituals that will bring all the most evil dead back from Hell to take over the world. We have silly scenes such as Bob getting captured, Kim ‘rescuing’ him, but no filmed sequence of the pursuit of the vampires that they evade. Having totally skipped an action sequence, we get a date sequence of Judy and Harold and a scene with the 4 girls trying on bikinis and being ogled through a shop window. The kids get caught, escape and caught again, it’s all silly.

Demos of the rubber face
The ending must be spoilt because 1) it contains the most bizarre twist of lore and 2) the film is so bad that I doubt it can really be called a spoiler. Harold manages to translate a passage from the book and chant it, this summons a robed vampire called Gnordron (Robert Ankers), who turns out to be a good vampire – or at least wanting to stop Falro and Demos. He goes back to the vampire lair with the kids and defeats them with the cross of death (a glowing cross). So, we have a vampire using a cross as their weapon of choice.

conventional vampire hunting
The acting was poor and, worse, some scenes were clearly dubbed. A scene of Bob and Kim walking down the beach either had no dialogue recorded or it must have been really bad. The actual conversation was asinine (second time I’ve that word in this review) but the delivery was worse, lack lustre and flat as a pancake. There was a marvellously bad moment, when Kim and Bob find Gower's body, in which Amanda Hughes’ emoting skills were demonstrated by a five second frantic flap of her hands like a deranged animated penguin.

The story failed to gel but had some stand-out rubbish plot moments. Harold is a glutton, so when he, Bob, Judy and Kim (Clarke and Wynette have been captured, not that the others realise) steal the book they go back to his and order pizza. He is working on the book (whilst Judy and Kim play backgammon, as you do) when there is a knock on the door. This starts a panic as they wonder whether it is the pizza or the vampires!

No, this isn’t good. The pacing sucked, the vampires were rubbish, the music was at the lowest ebb of AOR and Demos had a rubber face. 1 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

Vampires on Bikini Beach [VHS]on Amazon US

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