Monday, August 04, 2008

I married a vampire – review


Director: Jay Raskin

Release date: 1987

Contains spoilers

Although the DVD of this is by Legacy Entertainment, this was actually a Troma release. Not that you’d notice – other than the budget – this is very different in style and content to your standard Troma release. There is a dark comedy to this, which in truth doesn’t work that well, a sedate look at vampirism and pacing that is so off track it found its own lost highway.

Doris and MorrisThe film starts with the parents of Viola (Rachel Golden) landing at an airport, they are named Doris (kathryn Karnes) and Morris (David Dunton). They seem somewhat overbearing and they have come because Viola’s sister – Beth – has let them know that Viola has got married. They are somewhat disturbed by the fact that their daughter is married and they have never met the husband.

Rachel Golden as ViolaViola drives them to a diner and the nagging continues. Viola explains that she is going to drink her drink and then return them to the airport. When her mother asks if she is trying to hurt them, Viola replies that what she has done to hurt them is marry a vampire – the restaurant stops dead. She drives them to the river and threatens to drive into the water, then leaves her parents in the car as she stands alone. As the sun sets she decides, in a rather dreamy voice, they should meet her husband and tells her story.

Temple Aaron as PortiaViola came from a small town to the city a couple of months before. She had worked in a supermarket until she had saved enough cash. Once in the city she is obviously naive and becomes prey for the entire population it seems. Her apartment is a joke and her neighbour, Portia (Temple Aaron), is a doped up thief who thinks she is a poet and steals from Viola.

Viola fails to get a job, she is ripped off by an attorney, she hands money over to a religious cult and she ends up being raped and then working for the sleaze who raped her, Gluttonshire (Ted Zalewski), scrubbing his office floor. She ends up evicted and the bag lady near her home recognises enough to hand the bags over to Viola – she hits the bottom hard.

Olivia and ViolaAll this, however, takes the majority of the film and it is towards the end of her downward spiral that she actually meets the vampire. She is working, by then, for Gluttonshire and meets fellow cleaner Olivia (Deborah Carroll). Olivia talks her into going to a movie – it turns out to be a horror, and then invites her back to her home.

Robespiere drinks teaAt home is her brother Robespiere (Brendan Hickey), a reclusive, softly spoken young man who seems gentlemanly and yet a little odd. When the cinema is mentioned he asks whether it was a talkie and then says that he nearly fainted when he saw Nosferatu. His hand shakes when sipping his tea and Olivia explains that he has a medical condition and needs regular blood transfusions.

Viola goes to the bathroom and the mirror is smashed. She puts two and two together and, with the idea of needing transfusions and the broken mirror – plus the fact that Olivia had earlier joked that he claimed to be 160 because of eating yoghurt – Viola decides he is a vampire and gets out of there.

Brendan Hickey as RobespiereHowever, when all she had is gone she ends up back at the house – by this time Olivia has left for a trip to Hungary – Viola checks his reflection in a mirror and he has one. She comments about vampires but Robespiere has a turn and shouts for her to get out, muttering about how he could drink hot blood. She leaves, but then returns. The city has stripped everything away, all she has left is her life and she offers it to him.

offering  Gluttonshire's neck to ViolaThey then travel the city putting the wrongs to right. At first Viola is squeamish when he attacks people – we don’t see anything vaguely explicit in the attacks – but by the time they get to Gluttonshire it is hinted that Viola herself attacks (presumably she is now a vampire too). The only one who survives this march of revenge is Portia, whom Robespiere hypnotises to prevent her lying to her friends. Portia witnesses their wedding and afterward they go to the cinema to see Vampyr.

We hear during the dialogue that there are all sorts of vampires. Robespiere can clearly go out in daylight and some types have a reflection but we get very little lore. We see little in the way of an attack and the majority of the film, Viola’s descent into despair, is not well enough put together to be the black comedy it tries to be nor does it carry the pathos to be successful as a drama.

sorting out those who hurt ViolaThe shining light in the movie is Hickey as Robespiere. His limited action moments are so-so but his erudite moments work well. There is a pretension to the character, and thus the performance, that just fits. I should mention that I love the DVD cover. All in all, however, whilst this is an unusual take on the genre, in content and pace, it does not hold well together. 2 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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