Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Marty Jenkins and the Vampire Bitches – review

Director: Henrique Couto

Release date: 2006

Contains spoilers

Just to show that a film needs neither a sophisticated title nor a budget to surprise you, we have for your delectation Marty Jenkins and the Vampire Bitches.

Now, before you get too excited, bear in mind that it is incredibly low budget and indie. As a result it has flaws and problems that would have been polished out had it carried a more ‘respectable’ pedigree. That said this vampire comedy made me chuckle, groan and was, at the very least, engaging.

Shawn A Green as Marty
It begins in 1978 with a home birth. As Mrs Jenkins (Natalie Cardona) swears like a trooper and Mr Jenkins (Andrew N. Shearer) runs around in a panic, two hippy midwives (Kitty Juggler and Sydney Murphy) faff about. The birth of the child leads Mr Jenkins to exclaim about his ugliness (indeed, later in the film we hear Mr Jenkins claim that his wife died in childbirth, when she actually ran off with a man who didn’t hit her when Marty (Shawn A. Green) was three). This all goes to show that the large built but nerdy Marty has, from birth, had it pretty tough.

the vampire bitches
Said toughness continues when he goes to see Sandy (Lisa Clarke), his girlfriend, who dumps him and tells him that she has a date (Jeff McClellan) already. When she calls out to him, as he goes back to his car, hope wells but he receives his bouquet of flowers in the mush. A cry at home and it is off to the video store in which he works – to be leapt at by Tyler (Henrique Couto), his best friend. Then three woman – Tammy (Michelle McLaughlin), Ginger (Plexi Starr) and Ruby (Katie Pendleton) – walk into the store.

fangs
We met them outside, in the scene before, and so know that they are the vampire bitches of the title. Newly arrived in town and ready to “nosh”. There is debate as to whether this will be a snack or an annual feed (this isn’t expanded on) and they are weak at the time they arrive. They scope the place out and rent some DVDs but decide to feed and recruit. Sandy’s date is lunch and Sandy is the new recruit. Later, as we see a turn, it appears that the throwing up of one’s innards is involved – hence the suggestion that a tarp is put down when they get Sandy back to their lair.

Nic Pesante as Deacon Sloan
Their attention is then turned to both Tyler (who is turned) and Marty. Elsewhere the vampire hunter Deacon Sloan (Nic Pesante, A Feast of Flesh) faces a coven of bitches (and one queen) led by the vampire Stephanie (Amy Lynn Best, also A Feast of Flesh). This was one of my favourite bits of the film with Stephanie ordering the vampires to attack one at a time, bad techno soundtrack (actually put on for the hunter by the vampires) and terrible one liners (I’ve just raised the stakes, quips the vampire hunter). Unfortunately Deacon is to die, run down by Marty in the most purposefully unconvincing car accident ever, and with his dying breath he sends Marty to Hummer (Bob Hinton) so that he can complete his mission. Deacon, Hummer, bad techno – did you get the Blade references?

vanishing from the mirror
As for the vampires they are your atypical creatures of the night. Sunlight burns, crosses ward and their reflections vanish from mirrors (after going thin and wan). A stake to the heart will kill, garlic burns and they have telepathic powers. They turn into absolutely crap bats, matted onto the screen in bad cgi. Tammy, the vampire leader, has a medalian that lends her additional power.

warding with the cross
The film is cheap but they do try to do some interesting things with coloured lighting (and such lighting is mentioned by a film geek). The effects are generally a bit rubbish, but it is clear they knew this and thus it becomes part of the joke. The dialogue isn’t too bad, it could have done with polishing, sometimes the script veered off too far from the beaten track for its own good and some of the acting is average at best but it is with other performances that this low budget comedy truly raises its stakes (sorry, the pun stuck).

Michelle McLaughlin as Tammy
Shawn A. Green is entirely natural and endows Marty with pathos and general niceness, indeed you can’t help but like the character and this is half the battle as he is the focal point. In turn Michelle McLaughlin has some great moments with maniacal laughter. It isn’t Oscar material but it doesn’t have to be, especially as all the actresses playing the vampire bitches are clearly having a whale of a time.

The ending that eschews saccharine, which is no bad thing, and I generally liked this movie. It raised itself above its budget and indie roots and made it worth catching. 5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here. You can get the film from Freak Productions or digitally from Amazon:

No comments: