Sunday, May 04, 2014

Pretty Dead Things – review

Director: Richard Griffin

Release date: 2006

Contains spoilers

This is a low budget film that hasn’t, perhaps, had the greatest distribution. I found it on a US DVD two movie set. It is a comedy, the humour sometimes straying into the not too PC arena (a joke about retard porn for instance). Indeed, talking about porn – it is set in the porn scene (though is tame when it comes to sexual imagery).

All that sounds bad but I was really taken by it. Despite some over the top moments – the performance by Salvatore Marchese (Raving Maniacs) as the Mayor, for instance, walked a line between poorly played histrionics and genius performance and didn’t always stay on the correct side of the line – it certainly tickled my funny bone.

eating the pizza... guy
It begins with a voice over, reading a letter to an adult magazine, about a pizza delivery. The delivery guy (Patrick Pitu, also Raving Maniacs) takes the pizza to a hotel room – his encounter with the clerk and denizens of the hotel leaving us in no doubt as to the comedic nature of the film – where the girl, Shelby St. Exxmin (Ashley Eaton), admits she has no money. Payment in kind by her and her friend Jennifer Bond (Danielle Lozeau, the Black Water Vampire) is the order of the day but then they bite – Jennifer bites the neck, whilst Shelby apparently bobbits the young man with her teeth. They keep him alive awhile to play with, the man crucified against the wall, and Shelby feeds him some of her blood and tells him to look her up when he returns.

the vampires
Jennifer and Shelby go to a club to meet up with their friends. Rex Van Horn (Ross Kelly) has a girl he is discretely feeding on whilst Shane Starkweather (Jason Witter) dances with a young man. The man recognises Shane, he has the gay porn tapes Shane made – these are all retro but the fact that people seem so nonplussed when they realise the porn films the vampires made were thirty years ago that they just accept their maintained youth actually fits with the undercurrent of the film. Shane takes the guy to a toilet and kills him in a stall.

Shane and Shelby play with food
So, we have a group of vampires, all who were porn stars thirty years before. Jennifer, approaching her fiftieth birthday, is unhappy with her lot – at one point carving a stake. The others are very comfortable in their vampirism and the trail of bodies they are leaving (being attributed in the press to a Providence Ripper) have the beleaguered mayor hot under the collar. Jennifer misses her boyfriend, porn director John Welles (William DeCoff, Lesser of Two Evils). He hasn’t worked for some time and is looking for a new angle to make his comeback.

The pizza delivery guy wants revenge on the vampires for turning him. Presumably this is down to his major injury pre-turning, as much as anything. Whilst the film never explicitly states that his tackle is missing, he does still have the holes in his hands from the crucifixion and so we assume he didn't regrow his manhood. That’s about it for story, it is fairly simple in its own way and I think, more than anything, it is the performances that made me enjoy the film before as the actors playing the vampires are clearly having a whale of a time. Special mention goes to Ashley Eaton as Shelby and Jason Witter as Shane as those characters really came off as great fun.

back foul beast
The lore is fairly standard. The vampires feed on blood, blood must be imbibed two ways to turn and they do reflect in the mirror. There is a cross moment that carried a Jewish vampire punchline – though the joke itself was nicely understated in the dialogue – and holy water burns. Sunlight is deadly but decapitation isn’t. The film addresses the idea that a decapitated vampire can speak without lungs by simply brushing over it.

The primary way of killing a vampire is a stake to the heart (actually any amount of wood – even a cocktail stick – penetrating the heart). We do get a vampire who is saved from the stake by a breast implant! In fact fire will only kill a vampire if it consumes the heart. The blood of a vampire can be used to make someone their slave also. That about covers the lore (despite the bats on the DVD cover, they do not come into it) and with the lore covered that’s about us… simply put the film is genuinely funny and this flows through good comedic performances. It isn't the greatest film in the world and some of the jokes fall back on shock humour but, all in all, it gets a respectable 5.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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