Sunday, February 02, 2020

Tropical Vampire – review

Director: Marcelo Santiago

Release date: 2016

Contains spoilers

WTF did I just watch? Rarely would I start a review with such a blatant statement but, honestly… I like to think I have a moderate intelligence; I like to think that I can watch a film and draw the narrative, even when its obscured (perhaps even when the filmmakers themselves had no idea) but I am just flabbergasted by this one.

comic book intertitle
This is a Brazilian movie, set in Rio, originally entitled Vampiro 40º and is set in the seedy criminal underbelly of the city. Stylistically it is based on the form of a graphic novel and throws out comic panes from time to time and comic book intertitles to introduce characters. Other films have done similar and, to be honest, done it better. It appears to be based on a Brazillian TV show (of short episodes) called Vampiro Carioca (Vampires from Rio). A YouTube search reveals it is in the same style and knowing something of the show might have helped – though I doubt it.

in the club
Vlak (Fausto Fawcett) is the main distributor in the city of vampire blow – an aphrodisiac drug that allows a user to feel what it is like to be a vampire. He also narrates the film. We meet him and his right-hand gal Michele (Renata Davies) in a club where he sends her onto the dance floor and she seduces a woman (and her other half) and take them off in their chauffeured car (so, very the Hunger). In the car they chow down on the two.

Carlos Laufer as Limboman
Vlak is bored however. He starts meddling with a fang and this alerts crime boss Limboman (Carlos Laufer), who warns him from pulling it – apparently it allows them to track Vlak. He pulls it anyway and wakes up on the streets, dishevelled and with no memory. Michele goes out to find a new partner and stumbles over has-been vampire Draco (Otto Jr.) and tries to get him to work with her. However, he meets Dafne (Linn Jardim) a chainsaw wielding sociopath-serial killer and they team up. Dafne trades body parts for prosthetics (no, I don’t know why). Vlak ends up with Wang Su (Michele Hayashi), a rival to Limboman who helps him regain his memory and Michele finds him.

TV Show
There are interjections from a TV show about crime where most of the talking heads, and the presenter, wear masks. Indeed, most of the characters we see – barring the main characters – wear masks. There isn’t much more to say in describing the plot – it was fractured, incomprehensible and led to a narrative that was similar.

Linn Jardim as Dafne
It looked fairly pretty but at the back of your mind you knew that the style was about hiding lack of filming locations as much as anything else. Some props became stylised 2D cut-outs – for instance a revolver. I’m struggling to say anything else about this. There was clearly a comedic element that went over my head (and that might be down to cultural dissonance) but I can’t rate this highly. Taking into account that visually it looked fairly cool (even if the visuals were driven by budget/filming limitations), which boosts the score, 2 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US

On Demand @ Amazon UK

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