Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Honourable Mentions: Corrective Measures



This is a Tubi original film that was directed by Sean Patrick O'Reilly and came out in 2022, and shows a level of ambition for the free streaming platform, especially as it stars Bruce Willis and Michael Rooker (Creepshow: Drug Traffic). Sadly Willis has an aphasia diagnosis and is retiring from movies but, whilst not the greatest film or role, this is not as terrible a film as it might have been, especially compared to some other end of career films. In fact, whilst his role is fairly sedentary, there is a sense of calm dignity around his performance. Rooker, on the other hand, chews the scenery wonderfully.

Bruce Willis as the Lobe

The film is set in a future after “the pulse” an event that has caused radiation sickness for some and super-powered individuals to emerge. The majority of the film is set in a prison for super villains, who wear leg devices and are fed material that both dampen their powers. The guards are brutal, the overseer – played by Rooker – is amoral and Willis plays the Lobe, a super-villain with mind control and telekinetic powers. The Overseer is approaching retirement and wants the Lobe’s stash of ill-gotten billions and the Lobe might just have an escape plan.

Zed the Zompyre

So, the reason for the mention is an inmate known as Zed the Zompyre (Chris Devitt) – the included 'Y' is the spelling from the credits. With a bat-like look, Zed is a background character only. However in the prison riot at the end of the film we do see him munching on a severed leg (with the powers dampener still attached to it). As fleeting a visitation as it may have been, both his appearance and his name would always have been enough for the honourable mention.

on the news

I do also need to mention, however, an end credit sequence that has a segment from news programme PulseWatch (a show we see peppering the film). They report that Zed had escaped during the riot (he’s the one prisoner unaccounted for, they believe). They warn people that he is the carrier of a highly infectious “super virus” and a zompyre… It is a neat little ending for Zed and adds that extra layer of interest.

The imdb page is here.

Monday, October 03, 2022

VampyrZ on a Boat – review


Director: Mark Allen Michaels

Release date: 2022

Contains spoilers

This, apparently, is the third of a trilogy of films by Mark Allen Michaels, which contain much the same actors (and sometimes the same character names) but are otherwise unrelated – the Fiancé being a bigfoot film and Valentine DayZ a zombie movie. This, obviously by the title, is a vampire movie. But boy is it strange.

After a scene in a boat’s corridor with a couple of guys opening up a sealed room and clearly facing... something... the film cuts to a pier and beneath it sit Del (Curt Lambert) and Max (Dallas Valdez). Del is due to work security on a boat owned by his uncle (Robert Acres) and wants Max to come along. He refuses (citing one-eyed cat ownership as the reason) until Sara (Carrie Keagan) comes along and it is clear she is going also.

meeting with Captain Bob

Having met uncle (or should I say Captain) Bob – who carries an ancestor's peg-leg for good luck – the pair go to the security room and Bob shows him a room – cameras blacked out by the medical research company but heat signatures detectable. There is a person (Kendall Wells) sat, never moving, suggests Del but the strangest thing is the sound he appears to make – that of a bat. Max excuses himself and finds Sara – they very quickly get it on.

pustule

However, all is not well. We hear an insect buzzing and the boat’s chef is bitten by something, develops a pustule and quickly turns. There is a slaughter (off screen) in the mess. Max and Del speak to the medical researcher (Kate Rees Davies) who says the man in the room was at least 400 years old and she was studying him to get all sorts of scientific breakthroughs but also mentions that Sara was a reporter on scene when he was found and he seems to react to her – Max realises she is in danger but it’s too late, she has been bitten and turned.

head wound

So, it’s rescue Sara and the film goes weird. As well as Max being immune to being turned (the reason for which is kind of explained in a mid-credits sequence) he ends up with a huge metal tool in his head and, when it is freed (and his skull superglued) he ends up in a time-loop in which something will go wrong and he’ll get brained, fixed and the loop restarts. He is the only one remembering the loop, it seems. The vampires also seem to vanish at will and it wasn’t clear if they are phasing out, super-fast or unstuck in time.

Carrie Keagan as Sara

Onboard the ship, the skeletal crew seems fairly large and very oddball. There is even a permanent, smoking jacket wearing passenger. It all leads to some very oddball moments and this is the joy and frustration of the film. It isn’t overly clear what the rules are or why the time-loop happens, it all just is but the cast are personable and the set works (shooting took place on the S.S. Lane Victory, apparently). The acting isn’t bad but the scenario doesn’t overtly lead to audience buy in – does Max come across as a retired deep state fixer – maybe… who knows what one would look like, but the May to December romance is perhaps not as believable. If you want an oddball 71 minutes then this will work – just don’t expect any sense of what just happened or horror, particularly. For others this will frustrate. 4 out of 10 is about fair.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US

On Demand @ Amazon UK

Sunday, October 02, 2022

Crowdfunding: 1987: Blood of the Bat


Fan films can be really well done and the guys behind the proposed Batman (mashed up with the Punisher) fan film 1987: Blood of the Bat have already made one fan film in this universe called 1986, which you can watch on their Indiegogo page for BotB. That will give you a feel, of course, for what they can produce as will the proof of concept for the new film that is also on the page.

The premise for the new film is Batman Vs vampires and the proof of concept reveals a vampire Penguin.

As always, I post about crowdfunding for information purposes only and any backing is at your own risk. I am not associated with the film or campaign (though I have backed it). Check the campaign out here.

Saturday, October 01, 2022

Honourable Mention: Las Antropófagas


This is a horror flick from Ecuador, which was directed by Jorge Bastidas and released in 2019. It is not a vampire film (as such) but it certainly is of genre interest. What we have is a story of ghouls.

Back in 1821, E.T.A. Hoffmann published a story entitled Vampirismus as part of his Die Serapions-Brüder. There is every chance that the story title was added by an editor as the story is essentially a reworking, into a contemporary Western setting, of The History of Sidi Nu’uman. Jump forward a century and Dudley Wright adds the same story into his reference book Vampires and Vampirism and Summers conflates ghouls and vampires in “The vampire, His Kith and Kin” (1928).

feasting (artily)

The story that went through the thread described above was one of a husband with his new bride. As their married life begins, he notices that his bride rarely eats and, he discovers, often sneaks from the marital bed. Following her one night he sees her in a graveyard, where she has revealed herself as a ghoul and with other ghouls is feasting upon a corpse. This, for the most part, is the story presented in this film.

Luis Torres

The bride (or fiancé at the start of the film) is Fátima (Sheyla Carrasco) who is marrying the older, widowed Néstor (Luis Torres). He moves her into his home and becomes concerned about her not eating and visiting her friend Eva (Gaby León) often late at night. One of the reasons for his concern is that there appears to be a killer loose in the village and, worse, the victims' corpses seem to be subsequently disinterred shortly after burial and partially eaten by animals. They eventually get confirmation that the bite marks are human.

Fátima leaves for the feast

Only the young Clemencia (Estéfania Quezada) seems to notice (or at least voice an understanding of) the pattern that they are always disinterred and no one thinks to stake out the cemetery. There is some commentary about the bodies being poisonous due to the embalming process – the embalming done by the local Doctor… who is Eva (so we can assume it is not actually done). Of course, it is Eva and Fátima but the film throws in a convoluted plot of Néstor thinking his wife is having an affair, first, with a young labourer and, subsequently, with Eva before he discovers the truth.

eating the dead

Now, what we don’t get is them transforming into ghouls (as in a creature transformation) and they may just be a pair that have become obsessed with eating dead human flesh. That said they seem pretty addicted to it (there is a high murder rate going on), they do not feast on the newly killed – they wait until after burial to eat them (though that seems to be completed in short order), and apparently do not eat normal food. Anyway, with this bringing the Sidi Nu’uman/Vampirismus story to the screen, and with the conflation of ghouls and vampires, this is definitely of genre interest – though I have to be honest and say that the acting throughout was not great and the pacing seemed off.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US

On Demand @ Amazon UK

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Criminal Macabre: Final Night - The 30 Days of Night Crossover – review


Author: Steve Niles

Artist: Christopher Mitten

First published: 2013 (tpb)

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: In this epic crossover with publisher IDW, Steve Niles's greatest characters come together in a final showdown! Cal McDonald only wanted a beer, but what he got was a jaded federal agent and a story about vampires up in Barrow, Alaska. There's a new vamp in LA, and he's hell bent on bringing mankind to its knees!

The review: The third instalment of the 30 Days of Night story, which saw Eben go off the rails and embrace the darkness within, Run, Alice, Run, felt frustrating as it left too much unanswered and too many threads dangling free. This crossover event with Niles’ Criminal Macabre series answers those questions and tidies those threads in a rewarding way.

Of course, being a crossover, it has characters from Criminal Macabre, namely occult detective Cal McDonald and the ghouls he works with (the ghouls being the one type of supernatural creature aligned with humanity). If you are not familiar with that series, worry not – neither was I, but the crossover works anyway (certain aspects, such as McDonald’s consistent spewing meant little but did not get in the way of the story). The story brings Alice Blood and Eben’s narratives to a conclusion and neatly finishes the main 30 Days story arc.

As well as the story working well the art fits the story, including the Eben design pushing the character into a monstrous, vampiric visage. 7.5 out of 10.

In Paperback @ Amazon US

In Paperback @ Amazon UK

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

The Munsters [2022] – review


Director: Rob Zombie

Release Date: 2022

Contains spoilers

The trouble with rebooting a beloved show like The Munsters is that it is a firm favourite. That’s not to say that such a reboot can't be done, as amply demonstrated by the 1991 Addams Family film – but that had something distinctly in its favour, which I’ll come to.

When it was announced that Rob Zombie was going to make The Munsters I was split. Known for his hardcore horror, Zombie is actually a filmmaker I rather like (and have touched on House of 1000 Corpses in a past post) but I don’t think every film he makes is a hit and certain ones, 31 for instance, are very much misses. That said, I understand he is a fan of the show and this is a love letter to it.

Wolfgang and the zombie

Starting in a graveyard we have Doctor Henry Augustus Wolfgang (Richard Brake, Bingo Hell) and his helper Floop (Jorge Garcia) breaking into a crypt. They open the coffin within but it's empty. We also see a scrawny figure walking through the graveyard and entering the tomb. It is the supposed occupant, now a zombie, and Wolfgang bops him on the noggin and, after a photo with the corpse, says he is after the fingers, alive the zombie was a world-famous pianist.

I've been making a man...

Wolfgang is making a man and grave robbing is de rigueur for such an activity. Two brothers have recently died, one a low intelligence, unfunny comedian and the other the smartest man (or second smartest according to Wolfgang) in the world. He sends Floop into the funeral home to get the second’s brain, and Floop (of course) steals the brain of the comedian. Wolfgang goes ahead and makes his creation and thinks, at first, that the procedure has failed but then he lumbers into life.

disco vampire

Meanwhile The Count (Daniel Roebuck, the Vampire Hunters Club) is being waited on by butler Igor (Sylvester McCoy, Doctor Who: The Curse of Fenric & Slumber). Note that he is not Grandpa yet and neither is he referred to as Dracula. The Count asks if Lily (Sheri Moon Zombie, House of 1000 Corpses) is up yet and is informed she is on a date with Orlok. We see the date and it doesn’t go well. When he tries to woo her with a “disco vampire” routine she goes home.

The Count and Lester

At breakfast with her father Lily watches Good Morning Transylvania and Wolfgang is on to present his creation. However, instead of the talented and inciteful person he thought he'd made, the creature is at first inarticulate, then a bit of a boob, awfully clumsy but somehow woos the audience with his comedy (bearing in mind that the original owner of the brain wasn’t successful as a comic). Wolfgang flounces off to a leper colony in disgust and Floop manages the creature’s career (until he doesn’t) and gives him the name Herman Munster (Jeff Daniel Phillips, Son of Darkness: To Die For 2 & Freaks of Nature). Lily sees him on TV and tries to meet him, meanwhile Lester (Tomas Boykin), a werewolf and the Count’s estranged son, is having to get the castle off the Count for the Count’s ex-wife Zoya (Catherine Schell, Dracula (2020)), a money lender that Lester is in hock to.

family

That is the film then, a prequel to the series with Lily and Herman’s romance, the Count’s (half-arsed) attempt to split them up and how they end up in America. So, on the positive side, the Munsters looks great most of the time, with fantastic sets and lighting. Also, Roebuck pulls off the Count with aplomb and Phillips’ makes a grand stab at emulating Fred Gwynne. Unfortunately, there is much wrong. I had worried that Zombie, in creating a love letter to the original, would pitch the film in the same comedic tone as the original – grand for a rewatch of the series but we have moved on comedically as a homogenous audience. There is a degree of this but also the comedy is pretty flimsy in and of itself. 

She's got Lily Munster eyes

I wasn’t impressed by Sheri Moon Zombie’s take on Lily, it just felt too much of a chewing of scenery and not enough actually acting and emoting. She made the character flighty, which is just not the character, and was the weakest link of the three principle actors. There were a couple of tone-deaf moments – Lily and Herman dressed as Sonny and Cher singing ‘I Got You Babe’ didn’t broadcast the wholesome love the characters projected in the series, with them emulating a known toxic relationship, and Herman’s out of tune singing on it was entirely off. More so the character Zoya, a woman scorned and a loan shark who is looking to embezzle the castle, was coded as Romani. Now early horror often coded gypsies (to use the pejorative) negatively but those films were of a time. I understand Zombie was reaching back to those old films but, in the 21st century, he veered into a place that could be accused of racism and rather he could have had the vengeful ex-wife character without negatively coding the ethnicity like that.

Daniel Roebuck as the Count

At the head I mentioned the Addams Family and it had one thing that this is missing in entirety – a plot. Where this just seems to move from situation to situation, the loss of the house in the Addams Family is then followed with an attempt to get it back and the redemption of Fester as he gets his memory back. Perhaps it is not as convoluted as some but it certainly had more depth than this.  In this we go: Herman is made, he and Lily meet and marry, Lester gets the castle deed by tricking Herman, homeless they all move to America, immediately find and buy the house and Lester (at the very end) redeems himself by something he did off screen, though the castle remains in Zoya’s possession, and they now live in America. 

1313 Mockingbird Lane *

Queue us arriving at the TV series as the end scenes are the opening credits to the original series redone with the new actors. I’m not suggesting a convoluted ‘get the castle back’ plot, after all they have to move to America, but certainly something plot worthy wouldn’t have gone amiss – there is no ‘will they, won’t they’ with Lily and Herman, Wolfgang is just glad to be rid of Herman, Grandpa goes from not wanting them together to grudgingly accepting his son in law without an arc that creates the acceptance. This is then all wrapped into an overly long film. Still, it is very pretty. 3.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.
*I assume the house is still on Mockingbird Lane but we only see a sign for Mockingbird Heights. 

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Zero Avenue – review


Director: Daniel Frei

Release date: 2021

Contains spoilers

I considered that this might be a case of a film using vampire tropes but there was enough within to convince me that this is actually a vampire film – though the vampire in it is unusual. A low budget effort there is a reliance on the two main performers and the dialogue to carry the film and it achieves that.

It starts with a man, Joshua (Braeson Herold), walking through New York streets. After passing by one woman (Nancy Ozelli), the camera’s interest suggesting she may be important, he spots a woman, Veronica (Allison Siko), and heads towards her.

Allison Siko as Veronica

Veronica enters a restaurant and, after looking through the window, Joshua follows. He approaches her and spins a story about being a tourist who has left his bag on the train – including phone and money – and being unable to find somewhere. His demeanour is funny, perhaps overly chatty to hide shyness but feels sinister to the viewer. She is dismissive at first but, when he tells her where he wishes to go, she does tell him how to get there. He leaves but turns back and compliments her before leaving again. She stops him and says she’ll show him the way.

dominant

After a while she stops and points to a building and says that it is her home and invites him in. The apartment is a private one within a hotel and she offers him a drink. His goofy dialogue continues as he talks about pop/soda but she makes it clear that it is alcohol – whisky in fact – that is on offer. He drinks it and she removes her top, revealing lingerie beneath, he makes a remark and is slapped across the face… her demeanour changed she dominates, is violent, forces him to the bedroom and, straddling him, chokes him.

eyes bleeding

Afterwards we discover that she is a prostitute and this was a fantasy he paid for. The apartment is his and it was all set up to fulfil a fantasy on his birthday. She is about to leave when he becomes suddenly ill, he goes to the bathroom and vomits and she talks about getting him to a hospital – as his eyes are bleeding. He passes out but when he comes round she is still there. The film then follows them as his story comes out, and his plan, and every time it goes wrong he manipulates her into believing that things had not got weird (suggesting she slept or banged her head, thus gaslighting her). 

his fridge

So what is going on and why is he a vampire? Well, he is 400-years old (he admits this and then changes it to 40 but feels like 400) and his fridge is filled with blood – cows blood, he suggests but also says he uses it, mixed with other ingredients, as his sustenance as he dislikes solid food. He is immortal and at one point deliberately cuts his hand to show it healing (there are scars that are left behind after the heal). All his points towards a vampire or the use of genre tropes.

Braeson Herold as Joshua

The thing that made him ill was a dose of saffron in the whisky as it is the only thing that can harm him (she dosed him on instruction). When we get the backstory we discover that his mother (McLean Peterson) was a wise woman who wanted a child and conceived with a supernatural entity (Bj Gruber), the price was an annual blood sacrifice for the life of the child. She then hid him for forty years but on his 40th birthday his father gave him a choice – kill his mother and live or chose to die. He killed his mother.

Veronica and Joshua

Centuries on and he wants to die. On his birthday his father will often bring the reincarnation of his mother to him (the inference being she becomes the annual sacrifice). There is some discussion about the soul being made up of parts of older souls and this gives an out of the obvious question around how the mother could be returned year after year, in adult form, as a reincarnation. He has tried to set things up so that he can reverse the curse, bring his mother back to life and he die in her place – Veronica is, he believes, a reincarnation of his mother.

a surreal moment

It was the dialogue and performances that carried this, much more than the story. Don’t get me wrong it was an interesting tale and concept, but it probably would have fallen flat if it were not for the performances and both actors really gave their all. Quite unusual in lore and pretty surreal in places, the filmmakers might not have meant this to be a vampire film but the tropes they used were too plentiful to ignore. 7 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On DVD @ Amazon US

On DVD @ Amazon UK