Sunday, July 07, 2013

Vamps, Blood & Smoking Guns

Director: A.J. Garcia Topete

Release date: 2012

Contains spoilers

Vamps, Blood & Smoking Guns is clearly filmmaking on a budget but, as we discover quite often, sometime a budget film can really surprise (though we also regularly discover that the surprise can be horrible as often as nice – not the case with this film you’ll be pleased to hear).

The film is available on demand (and UK viewers can pick it up via Vimeo) and is short, coming in at just under 70 minutes, and is a black and white homage to film noir with vampires.

colt is beaten
Erika "Colt" Coltrane (Martha Harms, the English dubs of Blood C & Blood C: the Last Dark), is a hardboiled private eye. As the film progresses we discover she is an ex-cop who bust her corrupt ex-captain’s nose on the way out of the force. When we meet her at first she is battered and facing off against two guys. The Marlowe-esque voice over suggests that blood will tell, and promises that it won't be her blood.

animated sequence
Cut to some background accompanied with some interesting animation, telling the story of a boy and a girl, allegedly in love but he wouldn’t give her the kiss she craved. She vowed to find her Prince again as his sweetness could sate her craving. We drop back to the beginning of the case, which all came about because Colt was working a divorce case in a bar called the Rumanian. After discovering that the husband was no philanderer, Colt ends up talking to bartender 4J (Josh Ridgway). She discovers that working girls are being murdered but the joint’s boss, Nick Payne (Ian Sinclair, the English dub of Rosario to Vampire Capu 2), has kept the crimes quiet.

Martha Harms as Colt
She decides to ask Payne for a job, looking into the murders that have clearly got him on edge. However she finds him being attacked by a couple of guys. She rescues him and he tells her a story of vampires but they are unlike those in books and films. They feel no pain, have no fangs and do cast a reflection. They do need to drink blood (and eat flesh) and have sensitive senses of sight, hearing and smell (hence garlic and sunlight being effective). Later we discover that the vampire boss that has been hunting Payne is Vanessa (Jessica Renee Russell) an ex-squeeze. Going back to the introductory animation, she wants him because his pure blood, if drunk on a full moon, can heal their weaknesses permanently – this leads to a rather nice twist at the end.

dinner with the ex
There are things wrong with the film. Some of the story is a little loose and could have done with tightening. The makeup effect when Colt is beaten looks a little fake (indeed the issue with the makeup might have been down to the black and white photography, which otherwise covered up some sins and fit the noir homage). However there is one thing that makes this and that is the primary acting. Martha Harms drawls out her noir dialogue with a natural air that makes this really enjoyable. The fact that she and Ian Sinclair are primarily voice actors explains an awful lot. They give the film its positive and a great positive it is. I would like to see what could be done with this should the script and story be tightened and the filmmakers given some money. However I found it was self-knowing when it came to its limitations and made a joke of them (a fight scene that is nothing but sound effects over blackout would have been unfortunate if it hadn’t built into Harms dialogue, for instance).

Worth catching as a piece of indie filmmaking. 4.5 out of 10. The imdb page is here.

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