Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Vamp or Not? Wicked Witches

First released in 2018 under the title The Witches of Dumpling Farm, this is a flick directed by Martin J Pickering and you can see, from the cover art, why this went to a ‘Vamp or Not?’ – sharp teeth, plenty of blood…

The connection between witches and vampires has been a long one. Some folklore has the living (and sometimes vampiric) witch become a vampire on death. The verse The Old Woman of Berkeley (1799) gives the witch a vampiric aspect and the two have been merged to varying degrees in several genre films.

Duncan Casey as Mark
This film is a budget British film and suffers from a massive lack of exposition. The basic story is that Mark (Duncan Casey, Snow White and the Huntsman) has been booted out by his (soon to be) ex-wife. This is referenced mostly by him throwing his ring away and by the odd bit of limited dialogue, which fails to explore the situation satisfactorily. He is looking for somewhere to live and notices that old friend, Ian (Justin Marosa), has a room to rent on Dumpling Farm.

dream or nightmare?
He rings and arranges to get a room and, from the get-go, Ian is acting odd. He does give permission for a party, warns Mark off the “private” basement and gets drunk/stoned with him. Marosa actually does fill his character with sinister strangeness. As Mark stays at the farm we notice that he seems to be being watched by some of the village women, he starts having vivid blood filled dreams of monstrous women and, as things draw on, one of the positives I can say about the direction and performance is that the levels of paranoid fear are nicely drawn.

Ian and his friends
They are nicely drawn but exposition is not and thus the story is incredibly basic. Mark is paranoid, Ian is acting off, and the former throws his party filled with friends getting drunk and stoned (including his friend Stevie (Kitt Proudfoot), who mugs the camera in every scene he is in), and the latter shows up with three women (never named). As the sun rises the women take the blokes into the woods, Mark feels sick and is off to the side as Stevie opens a cooking pot, finds a head boiling and the women become veiny, sprout teeth and talons, and attack.

teeth and veins
So this is our potential vampire moment and they do seem more vampiric (or perhaps demonic) than witchy – though they are as at home munching entrails as drinking blood. Later, whilst hiding under bodies, the dead Stevie talks to Mark and says they are demons or witches or something… But Stevie also points out that he is dead and Mark is stoned – so the information is coming from Mark’s imagination. He also, later, finds occult scribblings with satanic overtones but that doesn’t help except to let us know that Mark was a target all along. Ian seems to be some sort of mad servant (ala Renfield), who they feed with blood at one point, and chopping the witches with an axe kills them.

snacking on a limb
If only we knew what they wanted Mark for or, even, if they eat human’s for fun or out of necessity – that would have helped the deliberation but the filmmakers took the decision not to include any meaningful exposition beyond the bare minimum (or less, perhaps). The film is more Evil Dead (though not nearly as much fun) than the VVitch, but is it vamp? It’s a tough call… there are certainly the tropes (fangs, talons and flesh eating) but that could go to demon as much as vamp. The tropes make it genre interest, I am unsure if I’d call it vamp though.

The imdb page is here.

On DVD @ Amazon US

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