Friday, June 19, 2020

The Vampires of Zanzibar – review

Director: John Birmingham

Release Date: 2010

Contains spoilers

This was floating around as a free watch for a while and, as such, might have simply received an Honourable mention. However, the film has been put out to buy and rent in various formats and therefore it’ll receive a review.

Apparently, it features a couple of guys from Jackass – who knew – however what we get is a vampire comedy that throws in absurdism and a dose of sexually based humour (mostly around homosexuality) that tries to be edgy but actually just comes across as juvenile. However, there is also a sense that those involved were giving it their whole.

in the castle
It starts within a castle (post establishing illustrated shot with animated bats) and we meet vampire Lord Weasel Titties (Brandon DiCamillo) – yes this is the level of the ‘edgy’ humour – who is devouring some meat brought by bikini clad women. They are ordered out by vampires of the court, who inform WT that the peasants are revolting, having discovered that he is a vampire, and he will need to wear a disguise for 1000 years until a vampire prophecy predicts the rise of a vampire leader who will lead them to world domination.

1000 years in a chicken suit
WT’s response is negative as the suit is a chicken suit (and here we get the absurdist side to the humour) but an incursion by a vampire hunter – who is dispatched by ripping his guts and brain through his rear end – changes his mind. The film then moves forward 1000 years and a graffiti painted over the 'Zanzibar, Virginia' town sign changing it to say it is the 'gayest town'. We see a mini-van arrive at a restaurant, the passengers recognised by the waitresses as the band Ripping Pantyhose, who are with WT still in his chicken suit. They sing a song, whilst in the restaurant, about the Devil taking their gay away, run off with a few girls and eat them in the van.

at the skate park
Paul (Doug Dressler) is looking at the internet, specifically at the story of his missing brother Josh (John Birmingham). His dad (Robin L. Watkins, Pretty Dead Things) comes in and Paul switches the windows down quickly – leading his father to think that he was involved in onanistic activities. It is five in the morning and Paul has a speech to make at school the next day. His father reminds him to take his pills – but he throws them away on the way to school. At a skate park he meets some rocker looking guys and mistakes one, Mabus, for Josh (of course he is Josh). They persuade Paul to try a skateboard move again which he nails (Josh was a champion skater) and tell him they’re in town for a few days.

Paul and Laney
At school (and without churning out the various characters we meet) a couple of rap loving guys dose Paul with LSD in revenge for something – and accidentally dose teacher Miss Leroy (Evyh Cerhus). He falls into a trip, eventually passing out, and when Miss Leroy wakes him, and mocks him, at his desk, he produces fangs and bites her – before being driven home by a classmate, Laney (Lauren Susan). On the drive his arm blisters when in the sun. So LSD makes him a vampire?

Paul's fangs
Not quite. He (and his brother) have always been vampires as their father is one. The father experimented on a vampire to try and make an antidote to vampirism – almost succeeded but got bitten and then perfected a pill that regresses vampiric tendencies. For Paul, as well as it coming to the time prophesised, the LSD has interfered with the pill’s effects (not explicitly stated in his case, but implied as weed did the same to Josh previously) and, of course, he’s missed a dose of the anti-vampire medication.

Evyh Cerhus as Miss Leroy
Anyway, the basic plan is that Paul needs to bite a virgin to become the vampire he might be (Laney is chosen). Meanwhile Miss Leroy is spreading Paul’s blood – looking to turn as many as possible into vampires. Paul will then lead a vampire army that will take over the world. This gets Paul, his dad and Laney hunting vampires – Miss Leroy and a couple of vampires essentially turn a high school party, which the heroes then stake, and then the film follows a repeating pattern of Leroy getting away and going to the next venue (a bar and then a gay club) and the hunters following. Paul has to avoid the temptation of biting Laney.

staked by cross
The interesting piece of lore that they threw into the mix is that a vampire can absorb skills from those close (no tasting of blood necessary) and then retain the skills. Other than this the film doesn’t do much. Crosses don’t work unless used as a stake. Talking of which, some of the staking effects work, others not so much. There is some green screen flying that worked fine for the budget of the film. However, the humour didn’t work for me, I’m afraid, and just came across as juvenile though I’m sure they thought they were being edgy at times. I mentioned at the head, however, that the cast seemed earnest (if amateur) and that counted for much.

This is not a great film. However, it managed to be less annoying than it should have been and therefore I’ll give it 3 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon UK

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