Thursday, May 07, 2015

Vamp or Not? Knights of Badassdom


This was a 2013 movie directed by Joe Lynch, though I understand that the final cut might have been somewhat out of the director’s control. It was mentioned to me by Everlost as having definite ‘Vamp or Not?’ potential.

It starts with a prologue voiceover that suggests that Dr John Dee created a way to summon angels but got, instead, demons. He tried to destroy the tome of spells he created but failed – however the tome has been lost through the centuries…

spell tattooed on face
Out in the woods a group of robed figures indulge in what appears to be a sacrifice – except they are quickly revealed to be live action role players (LARPers). Their in-game-argument comes to an abrupt end when they are attacked by a group of guys with paintball guns and chased out of the woods. One of the LARPers, Eric (Steve Zahn) drops the (online bought) book he was going to us as a prop. The paintballers find it but can’t tear it open and then it suddenly opens of its own volition and affixes itself to one of their faces. By the time it drops (and vanishes to reappear in the LARPers van) it has tattooed the paintballer’s face with Enochian symbols (Enochian being the language John Dee claimed was the language of the angels).

Ryan Kwanten as Joe
Joe (Ryan Kwanten, True Blood) is singing along to a doom metal song (of his creation) in the garage where he works. He’s written it for his girlfriend, Beth (Margarita Levieva), however she has different plans for their relationship. Given his lack of (should we say) corporate ambition she’s leaving him. He returns home to the castle shaped house owned by Eric, where his friends Eric and Hung (Peter Dinklage) realise that something is amiss due to the fact that they catch him playing a power ballad. They get him wasted.

Eric and Hung
Joe awakens wearing armour. He had never been part of the LARP scene, though he had been a legendary Dungeons and Dragons player. He isn’t too happy about the kidnapping but eventually decides to go along with things – especially having caught sight of LARPer Gwen (Summer Glau, Angel). The Gamesmaster, Ronnie (Jimmi Simpson, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter), insists a “summoning spell” must be performed to bring him into the game. Eric does this, complete with pentagram, from the book and (unbeknown to them) summons a demon.

flesh eating
This is the source of our ‘Vamp or Not?’ The demon takes the form of Beth (as Joe had a picture of them at prom with him in the pentagram) and is later identified as a succubus. As you’ll know there is much crossover between succubae and vampires. However she doesn’t seem to do too much that would be deemed atypically succubaen behaviour. We see her go down on one guy – and then rip his jaw off, and kiss passionately with a girl whilst killing her. We get the impression that she eats part of the victims – we see little of this but she has constant gore around her mouth. She does get accused of being a vampire LARPer.

demon form
Later we are told that she eats souls – though this may only be in the form she takes when Eric tries to banish her with a passage from the book and manages to actually transform her into a more powerful (and monstrous) form. The Battle of Evermore (the climax of the LARP weekend) is described as a buffet for her but she does only seem to slaughter. However, if she is eating the souls (and an indication of that would have been nice) then I guess she is a soul eating energy vampire as well as a demon succubus.

I’m going to give this one a pass, on the basis of the dialogue. The film itself is ok but could have been so much better. The imdb page is here.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Honourable Mention: Ruddigore

It may seem odd, to those familiar with it, that I am giving a mention to the Gilbert and Sullivan opera Ruddigore – in the guise of the 1982 Barrie Gavin directed version. So, before I go into the production itself, we must turn to Roxana Stuart’s volume Stage Blood: Vampires of the 19th Century Stage.

Stuart looks at Ruddigore, first staged in 1887, within that volume and informs us that it was originally entitled Ruddygore, “The title was a major problem. “Ruddy” had become rather too close to “bloody,” and, amazingly, this was enough to prevent many “nice” people from attending.” (p170) So the title itself could be read as bloody gore. In many respects the opera was a parody of, or play on, melodrama – and of course the vampire had played its role in melodrama – and Stuart offers a convincing argument that it was (mostly in the second act) a direct skit of Boucicault’s The Vampire.

Probably most telling was the appearance of the character Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd – correctly pronounced in production as Riven. Of course Ruthven was the vampire from Polidori’s the Vampyre: A Tale and he had reappeared in various plays, operas and prose through the 19th century. Erik Butler also looks at the opera in his volume The Rise of the Vampire, referencing Stuart.

Robin and Rose
So we have an opera set in the town of Rederring, Cornwall, which sits in the shadow of Ruddigore Castle. The village has a cadre of professional bridesmaids (the chorus) who have been out of work as no one seems able to win the heart of the maiden Rose Maybud (Sandra Dugdale). Rose lives with her Aunt (Johanna Peters) and secretly wishes that Robin Oakapple (Keith Michell) will express a desire for her. Robin loves her but is too shy to say so. From her Aunt, who was once engaged to former Baronet Sir Roderic Murgatroyd (Donald Adams), we hear of the Ruddigore curse. Sir Rupert Murgatroyd, the first Baronet of Ruddigore, had been a witch hunter and one had cursed him whilst she was burnt at the stake – all Baronets of Ruddigore were cursed to commit a criminal act every day.

Vincent Price as Sir Despard
Robin has a dark secret – he was the eldest son and so should have been the next Baronet of Ruddigore. To escape that fate he has hidden away, changed his name and has been assumed dead; his younger brother Sir Despard Murgatroyd (Vincent Price, the Last Man on Earth, Madhouse, Scream and Scream Again , the Monster Club & Bud Abbott and Lou Costello meet Frankenstein) has taken the title and thus the curse. He also has a foster brother, a sailor just returned to England called Richard Dauntless (John Treleaven). Robin confesses his love for Rose to Dauntless who agrees to speak to her, falls in love himself and asks her to marry him rather than Robin.

getting a light
Rose is rather inconsistent and having said yes to Dauntless then breaks the engagement and plans to marry Robin. At this point we meet Sir Despard – a man aged by his criminal lifestyle he tries to outwit the ghosts of his ancestors (who haunt each Baronet to ensure their compliance with the curse) but who actually tries to do good, after committing the day’s crime. When we meet Sir Despard we see that he has powers, apparently; to light a cigarette he clicks his fingers and an arm emerges from a grave to strike a light and we also see him fly. We also see his costuming is somewhat vampiric, in the classic Lugosi way, or maybe just the apparel of a melodrama villain. Dauntless tells Sir Despard who Robin really is and, by doing so, allows the younger brother to pass the curse back to the elder and thus stops the marriage of Robin – now referred to as Ruthven – and Rose.

in a coffin
The second act takes place in Ruddigore Castle and Ruthven now dresses the part of a villain and, in a very vampiric twist, sleeps in a coffin. He has a false moustache, in order that he might twirl it, but is particularly bad at crime – he can be rude, but the heights of his crimes include disinheriting a son not actually born and forging his own will! When Dauntless and Rose visit him to ask for his permission for them to marry he does threaten them (weakly) but is held off by an apotropaic – in the form of the Union Jack (mentioned directly as such, rather than the Union Flag, and called such I assume because Dauntless is a sailor). He quickly caves and gives his blessing.

ancestors come from the paintings
His poor ability as a criminal brings down the ire of his ancestors whose ghostly apparitions emerge from their portraits. Stuart points out that this is lifted from Boucicault’s The Vampire. We then discover that the Baronet cannot die by any means – save by dying in agony should he not commit his daily crime. The day is eventually won as Ruthven realises that each Baronet has eventually given up their life of crime and thus died. This, he logically argues, is suicide and suicide is, of itself, a crime. Thus none of them should have died. This also allows him to commit a daily crime, without harming another, by refusing to commit a daily crime. Thus unencumbered of his “bad Baronet” persona, the fickle Rose returns to him!

held back by the Union Jack
So Ruthven can be argued to be, loosely, some form of vampire – but his life is extended by crime rather than devouring maidens. The ghosts of his ancestors might even be said, under the same argument, to be vampiric ghosts, again loosely. The intent of the satire was clear and I think – certainly as something that is of genre interest – this did deserve a honourable mention. Plus, of course, the version I looked at featured the great Vincent Price. The imdb page is here.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Vampires Everywhere; the Rise of the Movie Undead – review

Author: Charles E Butler

First published: 2012

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: Vampires Everywhere is a review book that concentrates on the vampire movies that inspire fear. From The Cabinet of Dr Caligari to 30 Days of Night, with inroads to the discussions of TV classics, The Night Stalker and Salem's Lot.

The Review: I have previously looked at Charles E Butler’s volume the Romance of Dracula and found the overwhelming impression I took away was Butler’s love of the genre. That love continues here (and in two more volumes) and the same frustration of it not actually being a conversation holds true but, of course, does not take away from the book.

The volume follows the same format of each section being about a specific film and illustrated by an original piece of artwork. There was a reader's comment, on the review of the previous volume, about lack of page numbering; this volume is page numbered – though there still isn’t referencing. It contains some none vampire input. I was intrigued to discover why the Cabinet of Doctor Caligari was included. Butler sees a model for future vampires in Cesare and vampire movies in the (admittedly wonderful) expressionist film. I’m not too sure. Though I can see his argument Cesare was very much a slave whereas the model for the vampire that would follow was, of course, the master. I appreciate the argument however.

Later Butler looks at films inspired by I am Legend and covers Omega Man. In honesty I had watched it again, some time ago, wondering whether I would feature it here – I decided against it but Butler’s logic works as it is a bridge between the Last Man on Earth and I am Legend.

I did pick up on a few factual errors but have contacted the author directly and so won’t reproduce here and they are few and far between, and this is an independently published volume so some things will slip through the gap. If I had a real problem then it is towards the end of the volume. Casting an eye back to I am Legend, Butler covered the three films I mentioned above as separate entities. Later sequels started getting lodged into fleeting comments within the first film’s review. It just felt a little rushed to me – and in the “epilogue” the author admits he had set himself a tight deadline and also had an unfortunate data loss during the writing process. This is a shame but also is what it is. 7 out of 10.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Teeth and Blood – review

Directors: Al Franklin & Pamela J. Richardson

Release date: 2015

Contains spoilers

There is a lot to say about premise. The premise of a set of a vampire movie being haunted by actual vampires is a good premise, or at least I think so. It has a potential for a post-modernist take on the vampire movie itself. Here at TMtV we approve of this premise.

That said, good execution is also a key requisite and so Teeth and Blood may well have a good premise but I knew from the very beginning of the film that the execution had left a lot to be desired. This is perhaps a tad unfair. I began to suspect, as I watched the film, that it was actually designed as a comedy – though there is no indication of that on the Homepage or the Facebook Page. The trouble was, I didn’t find it funny.

Chinatown attack
The film starts with a voiceover about vampires having always been amongst us… it was absolutely by the numbers – the sort of voiceover that has been on innumerate vampire films. Then we get a black and white sequence of an attack in Chinatown and subsequent staking that just looked off visually. Cut to the modern day and a person, face unseen but evidently Detective Mike Hung (Sean Hutchinson), goes to a Chinese shop and, after some poorly acted banter with Grandfather (Clint Jung, The Revenant), he is given a bag. He opens it out of shot and all we see is a golden glow.

priestly vampire
We cut to a scene where a priestly vampire (Greg Eagles, Billy and Mandy’s Big Boogey Adventure) is on about taking over the US with vampire hordes and drinking the blood of the virgin before them. The scene ends when the director, Vincent Augustine (Glenn Plummer, Vegas Vampires), calls cut. The victim is the film’s star Elizabeth Thornrich (Steffinnie Phrommany) and she really is a diva, throwing a hissy fit and literally stomping her feet. Later she is found dead with fang wounds in her neck.

Mike Hung and Sasha Colfax
This death is passed off as a suicide, for the consumption of the press, but the police believe it to be homicide – even though the body has vanished – and pair up Detective Sasha Colfax (Michelle Van Der Wate) and Mike Hung (who has been sent from Special Division) to go undercover. This includes getting jobs on the film – somehow she manages to get the starring role and he gets taken on as a grip, and suspension of disbelief has just taken a nose dive into the pavement. The Captain (Frantz Turner) was a friend of her father (this character titbit goes nowhere fast) but knows little of him – and later suggests he’s found out that most of Hung's cases were “x-files” type cases.

King Kedar as Tyrese
So, there is a sub-story about a blood bank crisis and philanthropist Augustine setting up a new blood bank for the city that will produce synthetic blood – and how he will use this to weaken the vampires of other clans (as he is a vampire). On set actors are going missing as they are eaten. Augustine falls for Colfax and Hung really doesn’t seem a very good vampire hunter. Whilst the plot and characters are mostly forgettable there is some amusement to be had in pimp-throwback vampire Tyrese – played with camp gusto by King Kedar.

staked
Under lore we discover that there are daywalkers and nightwalkers – these can be made specifically by the vampire turning (one assumes a special skill to do this). Vampires can be taught to project a reflection into a mirror (this was a neat idea) and can move at great speed. Stakes kill and holy water disintegrates vampires (until it doesn’t, with no rhyme or reason).

breath mojo
Instead of eye mojo we get breath mojo – as Augustine breaths out a purple smoke that places the breather under his power. Hung has a gold coloured, metal stake that I assume was the glowing thing in the bag at the beginning... except it no longer seems to glow and there is no confirmation that it was the same thing. A bite turns and so we end up with a plague of vampires at the end – a concept that was fun (indeed more fun than the movie we got) but not carried forward.

bite
This is a film of could have been/should have been. The concepts were there but the acting wasn’t, the playing for laughs seemed off (or maybe it just missed my funny bone), the plotting was loose and it needed something it just didn’t have. A shame.

3.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Di Gal Bite Mi – review

Director: JC Money

Release date: 2013

Contains spoilers

I stumbled across this movie on YouTube and that’s all I have been able to find. There is no IMDb page, no homepage for the film, no page I can find for Wah Gwan Family Entertainment but director (and writer and producer) JC Money does have the linked YouTube channel with several of his filmic efforts.

dialogue swear words vanish in subs
The title on YouTube calls this a full Jamaican movie and that would be English-Jamaican, the film being shot in London. The film uses very heavy street language, so much so that for the majority of the film there are subtitles (the act of turning swear words in the dialogue into something else in the subs was strange to say the least).

fangs
The credits have kids singing a nursery rhyme then we cut to night and two blokes talking. One is boasting about his prowess with the ladies and the fact that, because he is a musician, there are always girls around. He sees a woman walk past and tries his patter, following her down an alley. Eventually he starts to turn around and head back to the street but she approaches him and attacks. His friend – the Rastaman – comes round the corner, sees what is happening and runs. His running becomes an on-running (pun unavoidable) joke through the film and we cut to his fleeing occasionally as he runs from London to Manchester (just over 200 miles).

grandma
The news reports a vampier attack – and this is the spelling we get through the film, but I’ll talk more of classification later. Then through the film we get a succession of men attacked by the vampier – either when they have picked her up or, seemingly, randomly. The hero of the film (and I didn’t pick up a name) is a friend of one of the first attacked. His grandma informs him that he was attacked as a child, as where his parents, and that is how he got a scar. They sacrificed themselves by giving him the only cure (what this cure is we do not know).

oxegentman
Grandma sends him to see Oxegentman – so called as he has a permanent oxygen mask, I assume. He survived a vampier attack and gives the hero advice (mostly adding up to “peg” her in the heart and do it during the day). I was unsure as to the lore around crosses – at this stage they are said to be effective but later not so. Garlic is listed as a vampier deterrent. She prowls the streets after midnight and appears to be able to appear and disappear at will. Oxegentman suggests that she is around in 2013 as it is the 30th anniversary of attacks in 1983 – the YouTube page suggests they appear every thirty years. However later – when a woman tries to get turned as she is sick of life – we hear that she only attacks women and this is because her vampier man fell for a mortal girl rather than attacking the girl and cheated on her – she drained them both (draining is a way to kill a vampier then) and now only attacks men (cheaters and flirters). Interestingly (and accurately and, to be honest, fairly uniquely) dialogue does connect vampirism and cannibalism – for what is one human drinking another human's blood if not cannibalism?

Rastaman's run
The problem was not so much within the street language used, nor some quite thick Jamaican accents at times – indeed the language aspects were genuinely fascinating – but generally within narrative structure, poor dialogue and awful cinematography (as well as cheap plastic fangs). The narrative structure was simply lacking, we just really got a string of conversations, most of which didn’t push a narrative forward nor invested in characterisation, interrupted by a bite. As for the dialogue, if I was told it was improvised I wouldn’t be surprised. The filming was amateurish, dialogue became lost in traffic noise, dark scenes were treated so you could just about gather what was going on.

the hero packs a peg
All this is a shame as building a story within the Jamaican community in London is a fantastic idea (and seems to be JC Money’s raison d'être). This could have celebrated the rich multiculturalism that makes up the modern UK and that brings me to the vampire classification. I don’t know why the spelling of vampire was changed to vampier. To my knowledge this is not one of the variant spellings and I guess it was deemed ‘street’. Yet the Caribbean have a rich vampire folklore in the form of the soucayant (which itself is one of many variant spellings).

staked and in the sun
Of course using the soucayant in her common form would have been difficult given the lack of any perceivable budget – the soucayant takes the form of an old woman who sheds her skin at night and becomes a ball of flame that will suck the blood from sleepers. However, without using the myth type the name could have been used (after all a variant of it was appropriated by Neil Jordan for his Byzantium) Coincidentally I watched this whilst reading Giselle Liza Anatol’s the Things that Fly in the Night, which is an exploration of female vampires in literature of the circum-Caribbean and African diaspora and has a great deal of information about soucayants. In fact the theme of female demonization for the “sin” of independence that Anatol identifies within the soucayant myth fits in here, with the female vampire active because she was wronged and yet that activity is seen as evil and she must be punished (staked) for her sins by the hero, which will allow men to return to their cheating ways with no fear of punishment.

So without the soucayant myth, we are left with a film that could have been a great exploration of multiculturalism in modern London but was actually a bit of a plastic fanged mess. 2 out of 10.

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night – review

Director: Ana Lily Amirpour

Release date: 2014

Contains spoilers

Sometimes the buzz around a film threatens to overshadow the film itself. When I first started hearing about this it was suggested that it was the first Iranian vampire film, this was amended to the first western Iranian vampire film. As far as I know the first Iranian vampire film was Vampir, Zan-e Khoon-Asham (1967). The added descriptor “western” was better, but not just because of the western genre, because this seems to be where East meets West.

The dialogue is in the Farsi language but the content seems very American (rather than simply western genre) Iranian, drawing in influences from the wild west, rock n’ roll and industrialism (to name a few) – fitting as writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour is Iranian-American (Amirpour was born in England but then moved to the US when young).

Arash Marandi as Arash
The film opens on Arash (Arash Marandi) smoking, looking for all the world like James Dean. He throws the cigarette aside and climbs through a gap in a fence. When he emerges he is carrying a cat. As Arash walks, we look around Bad City; we see a rockabilly (Reza Sixo Safai) with his face painted stood on a corner perhaps a dealer, perhaps a whore, we see an open ditch with bodies piled in it and we see a pristine Ford Thunderbird – Arash’s car. A street urchin (Milad Eghbali) begs for money but Arash has none. When the urchin points to his car he says it took him working 2191 days to get the car.

Marshall Manesh as Hossein
Whilst a TV talks to women and suggests that, as they stay at home and their husband works, eventually he will leave for a younger model, Hossein (Marshall Manesh) injects himself between his toes. Hossein is Arash’s father, his mother is gone. I assume, given later details about the cat having her eyes, that she is dead but equally, given the TV commentary, as Hossein stays at home stoned she may have left for a younger model. A gangsta looking guy, Saeed (Dominic Rains), comes to the door. As I saw him in the film my mind kept flipping to (almost a sanitised version of) Ninja from the group Die Antwoord. He is a dealer and pimp, and Hossein owes him money. He takes the thunderbird and Arash smashes his hand against a wall in frustration.

Dominic Rains as Saeed
Arash works as a gardener at a mansion. The only resident we see is the daughter Shaydah (Rome Shadanloo), who appears to be recovering from cosmetic surgery on her nose. She calls Arash to her room to fix her TV. He interrupts her gossipy phone call to suggest it is inappropriate for her to be in the room alone with him – however it is pretence, she has left diamond earrings on the side and he nervously pockets them. We cut to night and Saeed forces prostitute Atti (Mozhan Marnò) into ‘his’ car. He takes her money, makes comments about her age and has her blow him. This is disturbed when he feels he is being watched. It is a girl (Sheila Vand) wearing a chador, she vanishes but he kicks Atti out refusing her the proper cut from her earnings.

fangs
We see the girl (she’s never named) go to her home, dancing to music and putting makeup on. Later she walks past Saeed on the street and then stops and looks at him. He takes her home, ignoring her at first as he does cocaine, counts money and plays with weights. He approaches her and she produces fangs and he stands, fascinated, as she lifts a finger and pricks it before sucking it into her mouth (a version of what Atti did earlier, indeed the scene is her mirroring Atti but then going beyond) and then biting the finger off. She attacks him and feeds. Meanwhile Arash has arrived outside Saeed’s house and phones in, getting the answer machine we hear him saying he has something for the gangsta and wants his car back.

stoned out of his gourd
The girl walks out, her chador covering the blood on her top but her face smeared, and passes Arash. He goes in the house, finds Saeed’s body and takes back his car keys (and Saeed’s briefcase of money and drugs). This leads to Arash dealing and also paying to get his hand put in plaster. He eventually attends a costume party selling drugs where, dressed as Dracula, he is peddling E. Shaydah persuades him to take one but rebuffs his clumsy attempt to kiss her. He later, stoned out of his gourd, meets the girl and from there an awkward romance develops.

Arash and the girl
The girl is a vampire and I have heard it suggested in articles that she only attacks the wicked. This, to me, was not true. She certainly does attack Saeed and questions the street urchin as to whether he is good or bad (taking his skateboard and demanding he not lie – when he says he is good – and extolling him to be good) and scaring the hell out of him whilst threatening to take his eyes. However we also see her attack a homeless man for whom we have no indication of morality. She also sees herself as bad and Arash is not entirely an angel (and implies as much to her).

an expression of unspoken truth
We get no real lore communicated. We only see her at night, but that doesn’t indicate that she can’t go out during the day as it is never touched on. In a wonderful piece of symbolism the film touches on the reflection myth as the girl mirrors Hossein on the street, but mutely and more obviously than the earlier scene with Saeed where she mirrored Atti. Indeed, rather than saying the vampire has no reflection this film suggests that the vampire is the reflection. The only touch on religion is when she states she is not religious. The chador seems almost cape like, especially when she skateboards, and that mode of transport gives an image of the vampire’s glide but with a post-modern humour – again we get a mirror when she meets Arash in his Dracula cape and then wheels him home on the skateboard. Interestingly, given the Le Fanu promoted connection between cats and vampires, the cat acts as a conduit through the film. Hossein accuses it of watching him with Arash’s mother’s eyes and it becomes the expression of an unspoken truth between Arash and the girl.

Sheila Vand as the girl
I have heard some similes drawn between this and the Addiction but, beyond a vampire, black and white photography and an art-house sensibility, I refute this. The Addiction was concentrated on (surprisingly enough) addiction and was gritty and disturbing. This mentions addiction (through Hossein) but not through the vampire and is actually (surprisingly) not that gritty – in fact its story is as sparse as the population of Bad City. That isn’t to say it is a bad film, it is visually lyrical, beautifully shot (though reliant a little too much on changing depth of focus) and the soundtrack is wonderful and evocative, mixing East and West (though missing an inclusion of the Spiritual Front – whose spaghetti western vibe and nihilistic outlook may just have been perfect, but that is a personal thought and I digress). Likewise the acting – especially from Sheila Vand and Arash Marandi – is brilliant.

The film is slow, almost languid, in places but suits the pace. 7 out of 10. The imdb page is here.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Honourable Mention: Vampir, Zan-e khoon-asham

From director Mostafa Oskooyi and released in 1967, this is a real rarity and so I have to apologise for the quality of the screenshots but the version of this I managed to see was clearly a poor video rip. That said I don’t believe that a pristine copy of this is likely to emerge any time soon. However, due to the fact that the quality was so low – I struggled seeing what was happening in some scenes – I have not reviewed the film as I could not judge the quality of the film due to the low quality of the reproduction.

Vampir, Zan-e khoon-asham, or the Vampire Woman, is (as far as I can gather) the first example of an Iranian vampire film and I must warn you I will spoil the main twist.

first appearance
It begins with a man, Jahangir (Mostafa Oskooyi), being taken into police custody. He begs them to let him stay in the office, whilst protesting his innocence and even begs them to stay with him. He is left on his own, his protestations ignored, and we see a woman wearing a hijab... she is a vampire…

Jahangir and Bahram
Going back in time, a train pulls into Neychabour station and a man, Bahram (Mehdi Fat'hi), chases alongside, excited that his friend Jahangir has come to visit. He takes him on a tour, visiting Khayyam’s house, Sheikh Attar’s tomb and the new tomb of Kamal-ol-molk. Following this he takes Jahangir to where he lives and they meet Mashti working in the groves along with his daughter Golnar (Mahindokht). Jahangir decides he wishes to sleep amongst the trees.

Mahindokht as Golnar
That night Bahram warns Jahangir about Golnar, saying that it is said that she is haunted by a Jinn – indeed one was said to have taken her brother. He also suggests that, when near her, an invisible Jinn has tried to strangle him. Jahangir counters that she might be a vampire but Bahram does not know what that is. Interestingly Jahangir, before explaining, directs Bahram to a literary source in the form of the Count of Monte Cristo, thus evoking the Byronic vampire. He then says that vampires and Dracula (perhaps using Dracula as a type rather than an individual?) are creatures like goblins.

Mostafa Oskooyi as Jahangir
He suggests that they can go inside people’s bodies and then come out at night to drink blood – suggesting vampiric possession – but then also mentions that someone killed by a vampire will become one too. Bahram then says that Golnar’s brother might be a vampire, his body went missing and this was blamed on hyenas but later he was seen walking in the valley under the moonlight – don’t ask me why but that immediately pushed my thoughts to Wuthering Heights. Golnar comes along and Bahram cries vampire and passes out – Jahangir suggests his friend has drunk too much. He tells Golnar he wishes to see the moon and she suggests Khayyam’s tomb as the best place to go to see it but refuses to go with him as a wedding is taking place the next day.

the kiss
The film lingers over the wedding for perhaps too long pacing wise, though the traditional wedding and songs were culturally fascinating. Jahangir arranges to meet Golnar and they do meet at midnight at the tomb. She admits that she has prayed that he might fall in love with her and they kiss, marriage is mentioned. Then we see Jahangir leaving, he tells the distraught girl that he will return soon – but ignores her pleas to go with him and her fear that she might be pregnant.

Homayoondokht as Parvin
Back in Tehran and we see that he is a bit of a rake – indeed the use of the Byronic connection was apt. One of his employees, Mr Zeymaran (Mohammad Kahnemout), is getting married. Jahangir cannot understand how someone as ugly as he could meet a beautiful wife like his new bride Parvin (Homayoondokht). He makes disparaging remarks about the place of ugly women (keeping house) and when he dances with her he clearly flirts. He takes the couple out to buy them suits, but is clearly to impress the new bride, and as soon as he arranges for Zeymaran to have to go on a business trip he phones her up.

found bitten
Around this time he gets an accusatory letter from Bahram, regarding his treatment of Golnar. The letter also suggests that Golnar went missing in winter and was eventually found dead but with clear fang marks on her neck and her blood drained. She is destined, he suggests, to return as a vampire. And, indeed, the vampiric Golnar makes an appearance saying that she wants Jahangir's life, that he belongs to the world of ghosts and that she will kill any woman he loves…

Golnar as a vampire
To bring the twist out, we are in London After Midnight territory with Golnar acting as a vampire, conspiratorially with Bahram, to teach the rake a lesson. The main lore the film uses was given us in the first part of the film. All in all it’s an interesting concept and – whether she had been a vampire or acted as one – the idea of the vampire being the woman wronged was a nice one that reaches back as a vampire trope as far as the 1824 the Virgin Vampire but seemed to fit rather well in this Iranian tale.

The imdb page is here.