Saturday, July 28, 2018

Sunset Society – review

Directors: Phoebe Dollar & Rolfe Kanefsky

Release date: 2018

Contains spoilers

This is a film of two parts, if not halves, with an original film directed by Phoebe Dollar as the centre piece to a wraparound directed by Rolfe Kanefsky. The wraparound was filmed in 2017. The rest of the film must have been shot in, or some time before, 2015 as it features the iconic Lemmy Kilmister. However, it isn’t particularly a visual treat and, whilst it was meant to be filmed on camcorders etc, this is an issue.

The wraparound on the other hand contains much better quality photography, a shocking gore scene and animations that I thought were pretty darn poor – but there was no other way to get Lemmy into the later shot film, of course, after his sad passing.

animated Lemmy
So, we start off with that aforementioned animation and this shows us Ace (Lemmy), we get a recited poem and then the Ace playing poker, throwing down the Ace of Spades – what else – and the opponents sprouting fangs. He takes care of them but has been bitten and the spilt drop of vampire blood in his whiskey ensures he turns. We then cut across to modern times…

pick up
Out of his sports car comes Charlie (Ben Stobber) with two ‘catholic school girls’, Belinda (Sarah Nicklin, the Sins of Dracula, Chupacabra Territory & Lesser of 2 Evils) and Becky (Catherine Annette). They go in the house and he calls for Sophia (Phoebe Dollar, Blood Sisters) and then leads them down to his den. However, when they enter the room, there is a man, Mr Cross (Robert Donavan) sat waiting for Charlie. Cross is human but his henchmen Burton (Josh Fallon) and Ike (Aaron Groben) are vampires.

gory scene
Charlie is taken and tied to an ornate cross (which burns his back) and Ike eye mojos the two girls and takes them up to a bedroom. The film makes sure we see that he casts no reflection (we’ll return to that). Charlie is tortured to make him give up a video, which Cross assumes he has. The film is of the Sunset Society/vampires and we get a flashback of a similar attack on Frankie (Ron Jeremy) in which we find out that religious symbols hurt as per denomination of the vampire – so a Star of David drawn in marker on Burton’s hand burns the Jewish Frankie. Meanwhile Ike has the girls amuse each other and then choses Becky, turns into mist, enters her in that form and turns into human again, bursting through her torso in a rather sfx effective gory scene.

Lemmy as Ace
Phobie appears and she has the DVD – indeed, Charlie knew nothing of it. She actually produced it for Ace, as she used to be Ace's girl. Most of the rest of the film is them watching the disc and… well, as well as being badly filmed and low quality, it is pretty much story-light and turgid. Ace is the leader of the Sunset Society, ruling from a mansion (with drawn establishing shots of the building). Two of his vampires are the primary focus of the film. Gage (Tracii Guns) plays a vampire who keeps buggering up the rules (for instance turning a girl without permission) and Daggar (Dizzy Reed) is a bored vampire who possesses a human to be mortal again. Ace is so languid in his authority one wonders why he bothers.

careless reflection
There is little offered in the way of vampire rules but we get the need of blood transference to turn, sunlight only makes them sick but draining a vampire will kill them and... remember the reflection rule in the wraparound? Well we get a nice bit of reflection in an attack scene. As well as not turning without permission, there is a rule about not drawing attention to the Society (so Ace suggests leaving bodies where killed as serial killers also bite sometimes!!!) There is also a rule about not attacking children.

Dizzy Reed as Daggar
Given the ‘film in the film’ is the majority of the movie one wonders at the point and that, generally, is the issue with this. It was a project and I suggest it was likely shelved due to it not being particularly interesting or… well… very good… Don’t get me wrong, seeing Lemmy with fangs is fun, and Guns and Reed do well with what they have – even if what they have is very little.

Ron Jeremy as Frankie
The problem is the film doesn’t build character enough to care about the wafer-thin story and looks horrible to boot, and that adds weight to the idea it was originally shelved. Whilst the cynic might suggest that the production company or filmmakers resurrected it to profit on the posthumous fame of Lemmy, one hopes they pulled it together as a tribute. Either way I score as a vampire movie only and whilst it might please die-hard fans of the musicians in it, it won’t satisfy genre fans (though the wraparound might provide slight solace and a wedge of gore). 3 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On DVD @ Amazon US

On DVD @ Amazon UK

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