Sunday, October 19, 2014

Vamp or Not? Flesh for the Beast

This was a low budget film from 2003, directed by Terry M. West and is a film about succubi. But, as we know, there is a Hell of a lot (pardon the pun) of crossover between vampires and succubi both within the media setting and in folklore (especially when tied in through the mare folklore). As such I ensure that I do check out films that feature a succubus or two.

This is not always a positive experience for me, however. This flick could have been more positive than it was, there were glimmers in there but the film rushed to the “money shot” in the horror sense of the word and thus failed to build the tension that was necessary.

Jane Scarlett as Erin
The prologue of the film sees a man running round a cellar area, screaming that they’re all gone and, when he does meet a fellow survivor they are quickly dragged off by an unseen something (leaving a severed arm behind). It’s nothing new; it’s neither brilliantly done nor awful. It just was, and then segues into a group of parapsychologists turning up at the Fisher House for an investigation.

Clark Beasley Jr. as Ted
The team are: Ted Sturgeon (Clark Beasley Jr.) leader, tough guy and human energy detector, Jack Ketchum (Jim Coope) and Monks (David Runco), video experts Clegg (Aaron Clayton) and Shelly (Michael Sinterniklaas, Blade the anime (English dub)) and psychic Erin (Jane Scarlett). They are meeting the new house owner (and dodgy occultist) John Stoker (Sergio Jones) who officially wants them to check the house out but actually is searching for a certain amulet.

So the team split up to check the house, leaving Monks at a control booth. Almost immediately Ted is set upon by something and herein lies the issue with rushing to attack the team. It felt as though there was precious little time to build a rapport with the characters and expand their characters beyond a quick 2D cut-out. There was certainly no real time to build any form of tension. So what do we get monster wise? Well some of the team see what might be zombies (and they are called so in the credits) but I got the feeling that they were more like spectres of past victims (what with them appearing and disappearing) than flesh and rot zombies and they did not seem to pose a real danger.

demon face
The danger came in the form of three succubi (Caroline Hoermann, Ruby Larocca & Barbara Joyce), apparently trapped in the house. They had been whores who had worked from the house for Fisher and had remained there through the intervening decades. We see them in human and demon form, they can change appearance to look like other women and, unusually for succubi – who are normally consumers of (sexual) energy – they are flesh eaters. They do like to play, sexually, with their food however.

Caroline Munro as the gypsy
I got the impression from the dialogue that they had actually been human once and the bodies were host to demonic presences (whether brought back from the dead by the demonic force or simply possessed whilst alive, is unclear). The amulet Stoker is searching for is one that allows the succubi to be controlled and was given to Fisher by a mysterious gypsy (Caroline Munro, Dracula AD 1972, Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter, Nite Owl, Absence of Light & Midsomer Murders: Death and the Divas) who paid a high price for handing him the gift.

So, is it ‘Vamp or Not?’ Well there is always a temptation to include succubi as a form of energy vampire but they are not such a thing in this case. Their victims become undead – either spectral or zombie creatures – and the succubi eat flesh, which some vampire types do. They are possessed or reanimated by demons – and the idea that a vampire is a corpse animated by a demonic force is both one of the folkloric vampire theories and occurs as a trope in such series as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. They are possessed by a voracious hunger (for flesh) and have a sexual aspect to their nature – they seem to be able to read the desires/fears of their victims.

There is another aspect that I don’t want to mention because it is a spoiler too far and, to be fair, whilst it might impact the ‘Vamp or Not?’ debate it would serve, I think, to confuse matters rather than shed light on them. I really wanted to go ‘Not’ on this but the more I thought about it the more I saw that the tropes owed as much to vampire flicks (with some zombie aspects around the victims) as it did to anything else. So it’s a reluctant Vamp.

The imdb page is here.


olbas006 said...

you should check out the movie Kantemir. There are hints of vampires

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Thanks Olbas006, I'll check it out