Thursday, June 05, 2008

Vamp or Not? Mom


This was a 1990 movie by Patrick Rand and had a simple premise. Nice elderly lady, Emily (Jeanne Bates), is bitten by a creature and turned into said creature. Son, Clay (Mark Thomas Miller), finds out and is torn between protecting the populace from her bloodlust and his loyalty to his mom.

The trouble was, the brief synopsis I have given sounds as though it might make for a black comedy – there was nothing comedic about the film (though it has a comedy marker on imdb). This was full of angst but no real laughs. The other problem was, well we just don’t know what sort of creature it was.

Claudia Christian uncredited as VirginiaThe film begins with a father dropping his slutty daughter off at a bus stop and abandoning her there. The daughter, Virginia, was played by an uncredited Claudia Christian – for those who were fans of Babylon 5. There is a man at the stop wearing shades, we later discover he is called Nestor Duvalier (Brion James). Virginia tries to entice him with liquor and succeeds in a way she did not expect.

what big fangsHe grabs her, drags her into the desert and transforms. His face looks rather wolfen with great big fangs as he attacks. We later discover she was pregnant and it is the third such attack on pregnant women. This is a red herring – pregnant women are Nestor’s private perversion, not a creature norm.

Jeanne Bates as EmilyEmily lives in LA and Clay is a reporter covering the murders. He seems the good son, she seems to have less time for her daughter Carla (Maray Ayres), who lives elsewhere. When we see them together we get a blissful family Christmas and Clay announces that he and his girlfriend Alice (Mary Beth McDonough) are to be parents. Emily is looking to renting Clay’s room as a lodger would keep her company. That lodger is Nester.

Nester appears to be blind, but he wears glasses as his eyes are permanently changed and we hear that the creatures are sensitive to light. We also discover they have better than normal hearing (Nester can hear the heartbeat of a foetus in womb). Due to an accident, Emily sees his eyes and Nester bites her, turning her.

feeding on the homelessClay is visiting his Mom, who he believes has been ill, when he sees her leaving the house with Nester and they are both wearing dark glasses. He follows and sees his mom feasting on a homeless person. He confronts her (not straight away, there is some puking first and he tries to take her to hospital) and it is here we get most of our (very sparse) lore.

mom huntsNester states that they are flesh eaters. He then states that “vampire, werewolf, ghoul; its all the same.” Well, quite frankly Nester, its not and that was unhelpful. We discover they are fairly much impervious to everything. Stabbed in the stomach/chest does not phase him. Fire, however, does hurt him and he quickly is consumed to absolutely nothing (cue a comment about “so much for immortality”).

eyes changeLater we discover that they are slaves to their hunger and that mortal food makes them feel sick. The dog seems sacrosanct (though it fears Nester) and so it would appear to be human flesh that is necessary. They shrug off injury – bullet wounds heal. There also seems little loyalty to mortal ties, though Emily still loves Clay she does eat her visiting daughter. Emily does not burn as easily as Nester and she describes it as a gradual change that eats away humanity.

vaguely wolf likeSo what is she? Werewolf, to me, is out. Whilst there is a wolfen form there is no lunar cycle and werewolves are normally fine with human food when in human form. This leaves us, from Nester’s description, with ghoul and vampire. Neither are exact, we kind of have a hybrid of monster form and a failing of the film is that we never really know for sure and we certainly get no real creature background.

Mark Thomas Miller as ClayThis has vampire like elements and she might be a vampire. Fire kills, light hurts, wounds heal and flesh eating is an acceptable feeding pattern. The film is inconclusive (worst it purposefully obfuscates the answer) and thus so is this write up.

The imdb page is here.


Anthony Hogg said...

The description reminds me a hell of a lot of the creatures in Sleepwalkers (1992), i.e., a "unique" creature based on a blend of others, but interpreted as belonging to a specific genus (remember that the "sleepwalkers" were described as a possible origin of the vampire myth).

Rand seems to have been going in this direction, even if he preceded King in doing so.

Applying the term "vampire" in movies can be quite subjective (especially as the criteria can vary), so sometimes they just gotta be enjoyed on their own merits.

That is, if they are enjoyable movies to begin with.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Anthony, good to hear from you.

Actually, I've previously looked at Sleepwalkers and went Vamp - though they were unique I hink King did clever things tying them in as a basis for the modern myth.

You are right, however, that sometimes you've got to enjoy these hings for their own merits. You are also right in pointing out that they have to have merits in the first place!