Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Relic Hunter: Vampire’s Kiss – TV Episode – review

Directed by: Ian Toynton

First aired: 2001

Contains spoilers

This was the 7th episode of Season 3 of Relic Hunter. Relic Hunter itself was a take-your brain out mix of Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider. Fluff television in the grand scheme of things but entertaining enough to while away 45 minutes, plus it had Tia Carrere as Sydney Fox – the eponymous relic hunter – and that was in no way a bad thing. In this episode the relic is tied in with vampirism.

We start of in Czechoslovakia in 1720. A man offers a diabolic prayer to Satan and is to drink from a chalice when a mob of vampire hunters start banging at the door. He is, we learn later, Count Stanislaf. The Count picks up his chalice, leaving the lid, and heads for a secret door.

Syd’s assistant Karen (Tanja Reichert) is taking night school lessons from visiting lecturer and vampire author Lucas Blackmer (Adrian Paul). Being an author of vampire novels, we get to hear a little of his theory of why vampires are so popular. Seduction is their weapon and they are, he maintains, the consummate lover. He asks to see Karen after class.

She tells Syd and Nigel (Christien Anholt) that college rumour is that Lucas is a vampire. He asked about Syd when he spoke to Karen and her suspicions were raised not by what he said but how he said it (and his wonderfully green eyes!) Suddenly he is there and asks Syd to walk with him. She seems much taken with the man. He explains that he is doing research for his new book – based on Stanislaf – and wants Syd’s help in finding the chalice. Allegedly the chalice is the source of the vampirism and was originally owned by Vlad Tepes. When Syd asks for proof he produces the chalice lid and shows her a rubbing of a seal of the dragon – Vlad’s seal.

They are suddenly attacked but Syd fights their assailant off. It is off to Czechoslovakia for Lucas and Syd, leaving a worried Karen behind. She persuades Nigel to break into Lucas’ home where they find high factor sunblock, total eye covering contacts and a coffin. They are attacked by the earlier assailant, a man called Kantor (Lawrence Bayne). Will Syd find the chalice? Was Stanislaf a vampire? Is Lucas a vampire? Indeed are they one and the same?

The evidence does point to the concept that Stanislaf was a vampire. The chalice is meant to bestow vampirism and a ritual must be conducted with it every three hundred years to maintain undeath (according to Nigel that would be in a few days, yet we know that Stanislaf did his ritual in 1720 - maths is not the academics strong point, obviously).

We see the alleged body of one of Stanislaf's victims. A young monk who helped the fleeing vampire and was found three days later mummified – okay that mummification might not have taken place in three days but the monks certainly believe it. We also hear of a river boat voyage he took in which all 15 passengers mysteriously died.

As for Lucas, well the show does all it can to lead you in that direction and some of it is marvellously done. There is a well staged shot with Syd by a mirror in which it would be impossible for

 Lucas to be seen given its position. It is not even directly mentioned but the prominence of the mirror in the shot, as well as Syd’s meaningful glance towards it when he has left the room, plays with our expectations from the general genre. As to whether he is or not, you’ll have to watch the episode. Now you’re probably thinking, but you’ve put a screenshot with this paragraph of him with fangs, but this is specifically from a dream sequence.

We get some vampire slaying lore also. The crypt that Stanislaf fled from has been rigged with an arrow trap to prevent his return, which fires silver tipped arrows with a cross engraved in the head. Such arrows are also used by Kantor. Kantor pulls the curtain when he has Karen and Nigel to test them in sunlight.

Kantor also has a cross that ejects a silver stake from the bottom, a nice piece of kit.

Of course this is fluff, but it is entertaining fluff. It also builds the expectations well and doesn’t get distracted by non-vampiric story lines. I don’t know where they got the chalice idea from as a piece of lore, especially tied into Vlad, but it doesn’t matter. Take your brains out and enjoy. 6 out of 10 as a good fun vampire episode.

The imdb page is here.


Anonymous said...

A cup used in association with vampiric origins can be found in Andrew Helfer's entry in the "Find Your Fate" series, Indiana Jones and the Cup of the Vampire (London: Sphere Books Limited, 1984).

Here's an extract from the blurb:

"It is the Cup of Djemsheed, a unique mediaeval treasure. Legend has it that anyone who drinks from this goblet will be guaranteed eternal life. Mihail Tepes, a Romanian archaeologist, believes the cup is buried in the grave of the notorious 15th-century Price Vlad Dracula, the person who inspired the stories of Dracula the vampire."

Not saying it's the first time this connection has been made, but it at least precedes its use in Relic Hunter.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Anthony, given that it is from an Indiana Jones book, I wouldn't be surprised if the concept had been lifted from there and placed in Relic Hunter.

On the other hand, the book didn't have Tia Carrera. lol