Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sucker the Vampire – review


Directed by: Hans Rodionoff

Released: 1998

Contains spoilers

This is a film that might have been great but annoyingly, although there is a decent concept and a degree of pathos in this movie, it fails to live up to its potential because of an insistence on un-funny, too corny humour through the film.

Alex Erikletian as ReedThe film begins with a strange looking man, Reed Buccholz (Alex Erikletian), entering a house and doing voice over. He is a vampire henchman, or as he is later described a familiar, and he is cleaning up the kill of his vampire master, Anthony (Yan Birch). He fishes a corpse from a shower and it is an excuse to press naked breasts against glass.

Anthony is in a rock band, plasma, made up of three vampires – himself, Seth (Greg Fawcett) and Tobin (Kurt Hull). After the gig Anthony announces that he is breaking up the band. They have been using it as a way to get victims, in the form of groupies, but they are getting too big and becoming too well known.

Reed brings in a couple of groupies, Sandy (Melissa Park) and Vanessa (Monica Baber). Vanessa Van Helsing with stakeAnthony takes Sandy home and leaves Vanessa with Seth. Vanessa is none too happy about this as she was hoping to get Anthony. She tries to get his address from Seth who gets a little heavy with her so she maces him. He finds this amusing until he starts choking for Vanessa is actually Vanessa Van Helsing, vampire hunter, and the mace is holy water. He manages to bite her thigh before she stakes him.

snack in the poolAnthony meanwhile has snacked upon Sandy, in the swimming pool – which was an excuse for some full frontal nudity. It also demonstrates one of my pet hates, vampire movies when a less than ten second bite is enough to kill the victim. He pages Reed who comes to clean up the kill. Here we have an example of the ill placed humour with a scene of Anthony watching TV and in the background Reed managing to fall in the pool.

necrophilic intimationsReed has a secret. He takes Sandy’s body back to the boat he lives on and then dresses the corpse in lingerie and starts taking photos. There is a strong hint of necrophilia here that is confirmed verbally later. The next day he takes the corpse back to his day job, as a nurse, and we assume he sneaks the bodies into the morgue. He is interrupted in this by a doctor who believes him to be tardy and puts him on last warning. The entire sub-story with the doctor becomes annoying through the film. We also discover that he has a friend who works in the STD clinic, Beth (Colleen Moore), who is sweet on him.

The next night Anthony goes out on the town, picking up another victim by posing as a lawyer whilst Vanessa allows Tobin to pick her up. Back at Tobin’s there is some cross and stake action – but he bites her hand. She goes to the hospital the next day (with a dog bite) and meets and recognises Reed. Reed gets fired due to tardiness. Of course, having recognised him she follows him to Anthony’s home.

Anthony with VanessaAnthony is somewhat more aware than his band mates and, it seems, knows the Van Helsing family well. After some taunting he bites and kills Vanessa. Before she dies she tells him to look at the pills in her bag. He has Reed take the body and, before Reed can have his way with the corpse, pages him and asks him about the pills. When Reed tells him they are pills for AIDS (although that should be HIV) he asks him to get a test done for him – it seems a vampire with HIV cannot digest blood. This ignores the fact that HIV cannot be tested for straight away and I question whether a vampire, even if it could effect him, would produce the antibodies that are tested for.

Reed goes to Beth and has the test done – when Anthony reads the results they show he is positive. Of course Reed is freaking out over the concept that he might have caught HIV from one of the bodies. PK Phillips as LenoreAnthony is disgusted at the thought that he is a necrophiliac and kicks him out. He is then visited by Lenore (PK Phillips), the one who made him, who admonishes him for “breaking the rules” though what rules they are we do not find out and explains his death. He will grow weaker and weaker, his hair falling out and his body shrivelling, until he cannot move. He will be found, announced dead and buried, aware, for the worms to eat.

obligatory blood puking sceneReed has a test done himself (we never discover the result), dumps Vanessa’s body at her home (as he can’t use the hospital anymore) and then goes back to Anthony. The vampire apologises for his disgust at Reed and Reed gives him some HIV pills and announces that he will be Anthony’s live in nurse – a thought enough to make Anthony puke blood into the toilet.

Meanwhile Lenore has gone to Vanessa and revived her. Now this didn’t make much sense. It seems that three bites were enough to turn her, so why Lenore had to revive her was beyond me. Also, when talking to Anthony,Colleen Moore as Beth Lenore had said that her blood was in him – indicating some form of blood transference was necessary to turn someone, not just three bites. Anyway, Lenore then says that Vanessa has a choice, to live as the thing she hates (and presumably share the same fate as Anthony) or stake him. If she stakes him then she will become human again and rest in peace. Why Lenore wants Vanessa to do it, rather than killing him herself was not explained.

Anthony has become maudlin and, it appears, he was a sailor. He and Reed go sailing – which of course leads to Reed falling overboard. They get back to the house and Vanessa is waiting. She knocks Reed out and then attacks Anthony. In his weakened state she is winning but Reed comes round and knocks her out. They lock her in the guest coffin. Anthony tells Reed that he wants him to give her a proper burial and says he will sort out her death.

vampiric suicideWe then have a scene of Anthony, looking worse for wear, sat in the sun on the boat – committing vampiric suicide. It is a well constructed scene, with pathos and belies the rest of the film. The aftermath was a tag on too much, with Lenore offering to turn Reed, him refusing and then asking Beth to sail round the world with him – it just wasn’t needed.

The serious story, whilst it has some factual holes, is intelligent and at times nicely done. It is wrecked, however, by the constant unfunny Reed scenes. It is as though the filmmakers didn’t know whether to do a serious film or a comedy and ruined their strongest elements but including the weaker elements. The soundtrack is just strange.

Yan Birch as AnthonyI found Anthony a great character and he was played well by Birch and there was some surprisingly good character development with him but Reed just annoyed me as did the doctor and the character Beth. They were too much in a film that had the promise of so much more. Okay the film quality was poor, the lighting not great and the direction often ropey (with odd and irritating camera angles and some shaky camera work) – despite the good scene with the vampiric suicide - but if the film had been played straight then these things could have been forgiven. The vampire lore was patchy and could have done with tidying up.

A crying shame, the film could have been so much more. As it is, 2 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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