Sunday, September 09, 2012

Night of the Vampire Hunter – review

Director: Ulli Bujard

Release date: 2000

Contains spoilers

This is a no budget indie film, hailing from Germany, which was shot over three years as the filmmakers could afford to make the film. One thing that can often make an indie film stand out is story and I was really taken by the story idea behind this one, a clever little concept dwelt at its core – as we shall see.

It starts in an industrial landscape. A man is in his car and when he exits the vehicle and pops the boot we see he has a body in there. He leans over and we hear slurping and an animalistic growl. On the radio the presenter talks about the serial killer being dubbed the night stalker as the man gets back in the car and flosses his fangs – the boot pops open again. He gets out to look and we see a blade stabbing at him. He falls and the blade is used to curl his lip back, the fangs have vanished.

Stefan Keseberg asJens Feldner
Jens Feldner (Stefan Keseberg) is dressed as his alter-ego Henry Gloom, vampire author, and is being interviewed by Franco Herkenrath (Peter Schrader). As Henry, Jens has written a series of vampire stories, the Night Shade series. His vampires are affected by crosses, holy water and garlic but have reflections and, though long lived, they are not immortal. Thus they can be killed by a stake through the heart, as a human can, but also by knife or gun. A bite turns but most victims simply die.

bar vampyr
Jens gets home to his partner Selin (Nicole Bujard). She is getting ready to go to work; she works in a photo processors at night. She gets to work and changes into going out clothes. She makes a call, but the line is engaged, and then goes to a bar called vampyr. Whist in there she sends a man, Teddy (Erich Amerkamp), a drink and, within minutes, they are going to his place.

time to snack
Suddenly, as he develops fangs and his eyes glow, she exclaims that he was meant to be her dinner. They talk, embarrassed, and he tells her of other vampires in the area. She gets out a knife and kills him, stating that she hates vampires. She then notes the names she got in a notebook. At this point the film has played with our expectations… she is a vampire… she is a hunter… we quickly discover she is actually both – and whilst Jens knows she is a vampire (and his inspiration for Night Shade), he doesn’t know she is the night stalker – whose victims are all vampires. The reason for her nocturnal activities? Jens discovered, through his research, that if she can kill the vampire who turned her without having bitten a human she will revert to human. The trouble is, she doesn’t know who turned her.

vampire in the sun
As the story goes on she meets a human, Arnold Zahn (Alex Kaese), who wants to be turned and stalks her and, of course, the vampires are looking for the one killing their brethren. Also, Jens might be closer to the one who turned Selin than he thinks. In a nice bit of character development the phone call Selin tried to make was to her mother, whom she can’t speak to but can’t stop calling – freaking her poor mother out.

an ancient face
The rules that Jen uses in his fiction aren’t quite right, they are not affected by crosses at all (unless you happen to stab one through an eye socket!) They are affected by sunlight, however. Whilst vampires lose their fangs when killed, older vampires may rapidly decay and a dead vampire in the sun might rot and develop pustules that pop. We also see an older vampire looking worse for wear naturally (as it were). The effects aren’t fantastic, but they function and a lot of sins are hidden within the very dark and grainy photography that actually suits the dark mood of the film.

The film isn’t perfect, some of the performances are better than others but I really did like the story and the dour atmosphere. There was a genuine attempt to build character – especially around Jens and Selin. It wouldn’t win an award but it is worth catching. 5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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