Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Decadent Evil 2 – review

Director: Charles Band

Release date: 2007

Contains spoilers

I can be, I believe, forgiven for being suspicious of this film after the travesty that was Decadent Evil. Perhaps the fact that it raises itself head and shoulders above it predecessor is helped by the fact that I expected so little of this. The fact is it boasts better photography, has more of a story (albeit not the greatest story ever, but more), the acting is better, it has a more varied set of locations and it does not have the false advertising that marred the start of the first film.

As a reminder, Decadent Evil’s short running time had 10 minutes taken up at the beginning consisting of clips from Vampire Journals. This was a problem as the superior Vampire Journals truly had little to do with the film itself. This does have a précis section as well, but is a quick run through of events from the first film. It reminds us that vampire hunter Ivan (Ricardo Gil, taking over from Phil Fondacaro), with the aid of human Dex (Danniel Lennox), his vampire stripper girlfriend Sugar (Jill Michelle) attempted to destroy the evil vampire Morella. That they discovered Ivan’s father, Marvin, who had been turned into a homunculus and used his blood to transform her into a homunculus too – though it cost Ivan his life.

All this is narrated by Ivan – though he poses the question himself, if he died, how could he be narrating this?

We are in Little Rock and Dex and Sugar have moved into a motel room. They have Marvin with them and a rather heavy case. The case contains the body of Ivan, replete with air fresheners as he is becoming rather decomposed. Dex and Sugar are still very much in love, though she sometimes catches his lip on a fang when she kisses him. She has offered to turn him but he has refused. After a little breakfast – blood pack for sugar, candy bar for Marvin and nothing for Dex as the candy bar was the last food, we discover why they are there.

Marvin is sad, as his long lost son died, and Sugar has offered to bring him back. To do this they need the blood of the clan leader. Morella was the clan leader but since her accident (if I can put it that way) the next oldest vampire will be the one. They have used Ivan’s tracking cross, a crucifix that spins on its axis and point towards special vampire blood, to get this far. The cross points them towards a strip club.

They check it out but Sugar has warned Dex that they may not know who it is. Powerful vampires have a monstrous form but when in human form they simply blend in. They will have to use the cross and observation to discover who the clan leader is. There is a little bit of a plot hole creeping in, but we’ll get to that. Sugar decides to go for an audition as a dancer whilst Dex checks the bar.

Dex is wandering around the bar, cross in hand and obviously sticking out like a sore thumb. He is approached by dancer Lena (Jessica Morris), trying to tout business and prevented from wandering into an employee only area by head of security Burke (James C Burns). Eventually janitor Boris (Mike Muscat) bumps into Dex causing him to drop the cross, which falls down a grate leading to the sewer – the cross is gone. Dex ends up getting a sub-janitor job as they continue their investigation.

They have a list of suspects. Could it be Lena, the dancer? Sugar distrusts her and believes she is an ice queen and, whilst Dex doesn’t think she’s the type, she does have a tattoo of a heart with fangs on her ankle. A victim killed the night they arrive was a friend of hers and the next one is her favourite customer.

Could it be head of security Burke? He distrusts the new employees to the point of saying that someone should keep an eye on them and intervenes at a tattoo parlous when Dex tries to discover when Lena got her tattoo done (day or night). The excuse is preventing fraternisation between employees but nevertheless…

Could it be club owner Janos (Jon-Paul Gates)? He likes to sit in the dark and often wears shades. He has an odd accent, designed to be pretentious, and keeps a locked safe with what appears to be either red juice or perhaps blood in it.

We see the vampire king (played in monstrous form by Rory Williamson) during this, but never in human form until the big reveal. As for the little plot hole I mentioned... To a vampire humans have a distinct smell. The garlic legend stems from the idea that the scent of garlic will mask the scent of a human. However Sugar should quickly be able to divine, through her sensitive nose, which suspects are human and which are vampires. Conveniently missed, though the garlic trick is used by Dex at the climax.

As well as the little problem of bringing Ivan back it is clear that the kills are frequent and little effort is made to hide the bodies. Legends state that if a vampire kills 10,000 they will become truly immortal – invincible vampires. It seems as though the King is getting close. Even when they revive Ivan – without knowing where the blood came from as Marvin gets it but is knocked out and so cannot say (and only Sugar can understand him) – they still have the problem of ending the life of the king.

The revived Ivan is a problem also. A dedicated vampire hunter he is less than pleased when he is revived as a vampire. Some of the tricks of his trade are useless (or worse) as he cannot hold a cross and dare not use holy water. Will he be a good vampire like Sugar or will the bloodlust take hold?

The acting in this is certainly better than the first film, though it is not Oscar winning stuff it is absolutely fine for the level of the film. I liked the idea that, despite the events of the first film, Dex and Sugar are still fairly much incompetent – they haven’t transformed into kick ass vampire hunters.

The lore goes a little all over the place. There is the major problem of why Sugar hasn’t smelt out who is vampire and who isn’t. Dex is also confronted by a vampire during the day (indoors and not revealed as a vampire until much later) and we wonder (when we realise that the character is a vampire) how that vampire got there – it might be that they were already in the building but it isn’t explained. Nevertheless the plot is more together than the first film.

Marvin is used more proactively and makes the puppet action more beareable. All in all this is a vast improvement on the first film – though not a patch on the more serious Full Moon vampire flicks. I actually got a feel, though the stories are totally dissimilar, of Bordello of Blood. This is certainly not the best film in the world but it does prove a mildly amusing watch. 4 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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