Sunday, November 10, 2013

7 Sins of the Vampire – review

Director: Doug Ulrich

Release date: 2002*

Contains spoilers

*note that the film is dated as 2002 but did not receive distribution until 2012 and is listed as 2013 on IMDb.

We have to be scrupulously fair to 7 Sins of the Vampire. The back of the DVD box admits that it was an independent film, shot on a shoestring budget and had a cast consisting of local actors and friends and family. It is, therefore, going to have faults (and it really does) but what it has, as well, is heart. With a running time of just under 1 hour it isn’t one the outstays its welcome.

opening shots
However from the very first scene we can see the issues. There is a girl leaving a building and then walking down a night time street. The lighting is unfortunately poor, her walk is more of a dawdle. We see the shoes of someone following but she doesn’t see him, though she gets spooked and starts to run (and when I say run it is perhaps more of a light jog). But whilst her fleeing might seem visually languid, a fine choice of melodramatic soundtrack does add some impetus to the scene. She heads down a dead end and is confronted by her pursuer – in the credits listed only as vampire pimp (Ed Dilley).

just hanging around
A cop, John Groper (Al Darago), heads into a basement. Another rival cop, Butkus (Doug Ulrich), is already there and has declared the hanging, with stomach cut so the guts hang out, a suicide. Groper points out that there is no blood on the man’s hands so it is unlikely that he opened his own stomach. Cutting scenes, we see a car cruise up to a schoolgirl, Suzie (Rita Weidinger), and the driver, Josh (Mark Wenger), offer a lift… she gets in… as they drive off we discover that the potentially seedy scene was nothing as he is her older brother.

Mark Wenger as Josh
We get moments in Josh and Suzie’s life and also Groper’s life and then things cut to a hooker being picked up by a guy. They drive off but rather than give him the requested blowjob she chews a hole out of his neck. In the police station Groper is introduced to his new partner – Josh. He is unimpressed with the baby faced detective (and he was very baby faced). They get a call and it is to the prostitute’s meal. He has been drained, has a hole chewed into his neck and has had his heart tipped out and discarded (presumably to prevent turning).

vampire hooker
So we have vampire whores feeding on men and ripping their hearts out. We have a vampire pimp who feeds on women and lets them turn (and Suzie gets got). We have the cops who use no detection work whatsoever and then harass a guy (Brandan Tate) on a street corner who tells them exactly what they are dealing with and where they can be found – and being a homie on the corner and (bar one person in a flashback scene) the only black person in the film was somewhat stereotyped. Shots of the pimp and his coven were simply too badly lit to work.

The acting was ok given the independent nature of the film but Josh was too softly spoken to be believable. Actually Rita Weidinger delivered some very natural lines. There was a moustache fetish through the film with the pimp, Butkus, Josh and Groper all sporting top lip slugs. This looked very silly and false on baby faced Josh. The story was so thin as to be transparent and you wondered whether it was there. As such the “shocking” incestuous vampiric assault wasn’t shocking as we have never been pulled into the film enough to believe in the characters.

On the other hand, you could get a sense that they were loving what they did. We get a staking by switched on vibrator – the actual practicalities of that aside, it amused me. Moving back to the negative, and staying with phallic moments, a scene where a penis is ripped off and used as a fleshy chalice should have been a moment of cringe making revenge that defined our sympathy for a new vampire. It wasn’t because, the script didn’t draw those characters well enough and the man’s reaction was far too tame.

This is one that I don’t think did too badly given the budget and independent nature and, as I said at the head, it had a whole lot of heart but ultimately heart isn't enough and it is still a poor film. 2.5 out of 10.

The IMDb page is here.

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