Thursday, January 01, 2015

Ed Wood's the Vampire’s Tomb – review

Director: Andre Perkowski

Release date: 2013

Contains spoilers

If someone designs a film to be a bad film, can a critic actually call it bad? This is a question I will struggle over during the length of this review.

Andre Perkowski has created a film apparently based on an unfilmed script penned by Ed Wood Jr for Bela Lugosi. What the truth of that is, I don't honestly know. We do know that Bela filmed footage with Ed wearing his Dracula gear, which ended up in Plan 9 from Outer Space, and we also know he died before principle shooting on Plan 9.

Judson and Flinch
Perkowski makes a film complete with visible boom mikes, bad edits, poor focus, even poorer framing, risible acting, awful dialogue and ridiculous plot. All this is clearly on purpose. It features an opening narrative by Criswell (himself, from archive) that actually continues on and off through the length of the film. The story, such as it is, is just a little bit "10 Little Indians". Lucille died two months earlier and her husband Judson (Keith Heimpel) and his siblings Flinch (David C. Hayes, Goodbye Light, the Death Factory: Bloodletting, Blood Moon Rising, Vampire Slayers & Vampageddon) and Diana have gathered at the house at Old Marsh Lake waiting for the inheritance (don't try and make sense of the expected probate).

Aunt Lucille
Also at the house is Barbara (Katie Dugan), who is Lucille's niece. She has had dreams or visions of Aunt Lucille walking from the tomb, a vampire. Of course the siblings do not believe in vampires (though I have to say when they open her tomb, Lucille is looking remarkably well preserved) and her death was perhaps not as natural as they made out. As a mysterious cloaked figure, Dr Acula, makes his presence known, the siblings begin to vanish one after the other.

Dr Acula
There really isn't much more story to tell, unless I were to spoil the ending. Piecing the narrative together was a little like plaiting fog. So instead I'll return to my original question, "If someone designs a film to be a bad film, can a critic actually call it bad?" Edward D. Wood Jr made bad films, of that there is no doubt, but he genuinely believed in himself and there is a naiveté to films like Plan 9 that make them watchable.

errant boom mike
Whilst this film was purposefully bad, I really don't know if Perkowski is a bad filmmaker or just the maker of a (deliberately) bad film. However there is none of Ed Wood Jr's naiveté to this film, it is most definitely a homage to Wood the one can't help but feel a cynicism as well. The film isn't so bad that it is good, and therefore is just bad. Unfortunately it pretty much is unwatchable. The answer to the question is therefore: yes, a critic, albeit an amateur one in this case, can call such a film bad. 1.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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