Monday, December 15, 2014

Vamp or Not? Atlantis: Day of the Dead

I received a text message from my friend Everlost informing me that the episode of the series Atlantis that he was watching was a potential "Vamp or Not?" I'd not seen the programme before, indeed I actually had to ask him what channel it was on. Apparently this is a prime-time BBC1 programme. I'd have never guessed after watching it.

The episode aired in 2014, and was directed by Declan O'Dwyer. It was the fifth episode of season two so I had some catching up to do with regard characters. In the "previously on" section at the beginning of the programme we see Jason (Jack Donnelly) fall down a precipice in a necropolis with an enemy, Medea (Amy Manson, Being Human), and another apparent enemy Pasiphae (Sarah Parish) being shot with an arrow.

casting her wicked spell
A quick Wikipedia taught me that Jason comes from our time, went off in a submarine and somehow ended up in ancient Atlantis. Pasiphae is a sorceress and Queen who Jason helped depose. As the episode started proper we see Pasiphae come round and drag herself to a stone sarcophagus. She performs some form of incantation, while scratching some glyphs on the lid, a rotten hand bursts through the side of the sarcophagus.

a dead friend returns
Jason's friends start climbing down the necropolis in order to find Jason as they believe him, correctly, to still be alive. Suddenly a past companion, whose name I didn't catch but apparently died recently, appears - his eyes now black. They try to speak to him but he attacks them, ripping a chunk of flesh from one of their arms. They managed to beat him back but are attacked by more mummified looking dead warriors. Hercules (Mark Addy) is unable to kill them but eventually, during the episode, manages to stab one in the heart at which point they realise that this is the way to kill them.

Jack Donnelly as Jason
So we have the risen dead, raised through sorcery and destroyed individually by piercing the heart or collectively by smashing the glyphs and breaking the spell. They have a hunger for human flesh and a bite causes a fever that quickly kills and turns the bitten. They seem fairly mindless, yet some of them use swords and, apparently, they can't see in the dark; so Jason and Medea (who by necessity have teamed up) extinguish their torches to escape detection at one point.

walking dead in the dark
So far, to be fair, these seem much more zombie than anything. Certain zombie films do have rudimentary tool use (indeed the great George A. Romero takes tool use in interesting directions in his films) and they do not seem sentient. However there is the method of killing, coming straight out of the vampire rulebook, and I'm guessing it was budget or lack of it that prevented the chopping off of heads and burning to come into play, even though the desiccated dead would probably lose their heads easily and go up like tinder. However this brings me to comment on the show. The dead were filmed with quick cutaway and in a murky darkness to hide what I'm guessing was poor effects. The 45 minutes I endured caused me to question the liberties taken with classical mythological figures, the acting was piecemeal at best, the dialogue was cringeworthy and the time spent watching the show is time I'll never get back especially as I'm going to have to say that this is Not Vamp. I might go as far as suggesting they are zompires but I definitely can't recommend the episode.

The episode's imdb page is here.

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