Thursday, August 06, 2009

Lesbian Vampire Killers – review


Directed by: Phil Claydon

Release date: 2009

Contains spoilers

There shouldn’t be a problem with a film called lesbian Vampire Killers, after all it can spoof the back catalogue of horror films generally and vampire films specifically, with impunity. People going in would know what they were going to get and they would laugh, oh how they would laugh. Thus the problem with the film is… it isn’t, in the main, funny. The problem with the review is, having re-watched the film and then re-read my first impressions, nothing has really changed – I was fairly spot on first time around.

opening scenes look goodThe film begins with scenes from the past that show us how a village was invaded by the demon Carmilla (Silvia Colloca) – the lesbian vampire queen. Incidentally the name, and sexual predilection, is about the only connection you’ll find to the LeFanu novel. The first thing to note is how marvellous it looks. Flowing mists and ethereal chiffon floating behind beautiful women. I cannot, for an instant, complain about the look of the film. The sets were perfect, the vampire imagery divine. Nearly, at least… It was off putting to see a medieval scene and the obvious movement of silicon below the skin at the side of the breast – picky, I know, but it was an imperfection in an otherwise really well done look.

Anyway, a Baron McLaren (Mathew Horne) returns from the crusades and discovers that his wife, Eva (Vera Filatova) has been seduced and turned. He creates a sacred sword and attacks Carmilla. As she dies she curses the village and then he cuts her f*cking head off – as the dialogue puts it.

let that be a warning, clowns are never funnyJimmy (Mathew Horne) is a wimp whose girlfriend, Judy (Lucy Gaskell) dumps him on a regular basis – normally for someone else. Fletch (James Corden) is an individual with anger management issues, who we see being fired from his job as a children’s clown for punching a seven year old. They end up down the pub but Fletch’s idea that they go to Ibiza is a no go – Jimmy lent his savings to Judy.

hikingA dart into a map sets them off on a hiking trip to the village of Cragwich. Fletch is less than impressed with the idea of hiking, has only brought beer and condoms as supplies and smashes Jimmy’s phone when Judy tries to phone Jimmy (she discovered that the man she left Jimmy for was married). Things perk up when he sees a group of hot girls leaving the village pub and getting into a minivan but, when they go in, the pub only has male locals in. Drinks are on the house and, after the local vicar (Paul McGann) has a rant at the landlord, they are told that they can stay at the Mircalla cottage – where the girls have been sent.

Swedish studentsThe girls, Lotte (MyAnna Buring), Trudi (Ashley Mulheron), Anke (Louise Dykan) and Hiedi (Tiffany Mulheron) are in their van, we discover later that they are Swedish students researching the folklore of Carmilla. The van suddenly stops, power gone. It is a phenomena, it seems, that occurs to vehicles when vampires are near – not a first, Cave of the Living Dead featured a similar phenomena. As it is, they fear something outside that turns out to be Jimmy and Fletch – who must be really fast hikers to have caught the van up. They go to the cottage and party for a little bit until the vampires come.

bitten by a lesbian vampireAnke and Hiedi are first to be got – as they have gone to the outside toilet. Though why a house that has a plumbed in shower would fail to have a plumbed in toilet is beyond me? Trudi is pulled through the window of said bathroom with shower. Judy is got as she is driving through the forest – though how she would have even known to go to Cragwich is beyond me and never explained? We have a little bit of house siege, followed by Lotte (the virgin) and Jimmy (the descendant of McLaren) being kidnapped to resurrect Carmilla with their blood, whilst a reluctant Fletch is forced into rescuing them by the vicar, whose daughter, Rebecca (Emer Kenny), turns 18 at midnight and (by the stricture of the curse) will become a lesbian vampire. Incidentally, does this mean that the village men were breeding with any village girls when they were 16 to early 17 (or younger) in order that they might keep the village going through the centuries, and how come there were so (relatively) few vampires?

The biggest problem with the film is that it fails as a comedy. There are a couple of lines that work and that is because they are genre orientated. The vampires are outside but not entering because they haven’t been invited (making the set up of Mircalla’s cottage as a trap the villagers use to feed the vampires and thus save themselves a bit of a nonsense). Jimmy says “It’s not like I’m going to say, ‘Hey, lesbian vampires, come into my cottage,’ is it?” – Which is all the invite they need. The other line is the vicar saying that he is “well versed in knowledge of killing vampires,” to which Fletch replies “Yeah! So’s everyone! Stakes, garlic, beheading, holy water, sunlight. There’s not a f*cker alive who doesn’t know that sh*t!” That’s about all folks, bar the ‘big gay werewolf’ line, which works as a line but is spoilt in the coda.

Mathew Horne as JimmyMost of the jokes are cock gags and they just aren’t funny. The reason is twofold – the writing and the performances. The writing is not strong enough to be funny when coupled with a weak performance, and Horne and Corden are not funny enough to carry it off. They simply do not have the charisma or the natural amusing qualities. Thus, with two unappealing characters – Jimmy is a wimp and gormless, Fletch is a coward, self-serving, misogynistic and violent, both are immature – they cannot make the audience like the characters despite the characters. If, say, Tyler Labine or Nick Frost had played Fletch, the character might have worked despite the weak script.

post fight covered in white gunkWorse still was the idea that the film itself might be misogynistic. Okay it might be for for different reasons – Jimmy is with a domineering woman and then is too gormless to see the signals another woman gives him and Fletch is simply immature, violent and not very nice – but neither can enter a normal relationship with a woman. Even females of the living dead prefer each other over Fletch. That’s okay because the scenario they are in allows them to kill the women, Jimmy is even able to kill his domineering girlfriend and the deaths culminate in an ejaculation – these vampires spew white gunk on death.

18 and penetrated by the sword of d'ildoKilling the main vampire involves a sword – they describe as a cock sword because of the shape of its pommel – which is the sword of D’ildo, God of lust… It takes the idea of the lesbian vampire and suggests that they became a staple of the genre because we hate the idea, rather than the fact that the average straight male horror fan likes to see this. It isn’t a sexploitation because, beyond a distinct lack of nakedness, the sexploitation film – at its core – loved the female form and celebrated it in its own, horny way. Am I reading too much in? On a conscious level maybe, it was probably a hamfisted treatment of the genre more than anything, but the writers need to do some soul searching.

Paul McGann as the vicarI should mention that Paul McGann was rather fun as the swearing, vampire hunting vicar. The difference between his swearing character and Jimmy and Fletch? The actor has an inherent charisma. Incidentally, his daughter is killed, accidentally though she has turned, by Fletch and the magic sword. A moment that could then have been used for some black comedic effect, injecting a pathos that was otherwise missing or just setting up story development was then utterly missed as an opportunity, with only a mumbled attempt to confess and that was all.

the cgi worked wellThe film should have worked, the base concept might have been written on the back of a cigarette pack but it could have been genius in its simplicity. Kudos to the set designers and to Phil Claydon for the look, even the very CGI bits worked because they fit the look and feel. The film lacked a sense of tension as a horror, but it would as it concentrated on trying to be a comedy. As a comedy it failed due to a weak script, a lack of understanding of the genre and very miscast leads. 3 out of 10 is for the look. The imdb page is here.


Zahir al Daoud said...

Yeah. At heart, this is just not a good movie. It is very beautifully photographed and has at its most basic a smidgeon of a deliciously sordid comedy. But there are really only two ways to go when it comes to comedy. One is to take nothing seriously and just toss in gags, be it Airplane or Clue or Monty Python. The other is to laugh at the absurdities of real life a la Tootsie or Love Actually or even Young Frankenstein. This tries to do a little bit of both, and fails. It is nowhere near zany enough for one and nowhere near real enough for the other.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Good call Zahir - though I do think that there are comic actors who could have made more with it.

Can't argue with the visuals though

CrabStiX said...

Horne and Corden, whilst brilliant in Gavin & Stacey were shown up as being lightweight and limited comics in their own, ill conceived sketch show and their limitations seem to have transferred badly top the big screen. Of course, LVK suffers from the additional curse of being a British comedy movie... being often dire and unfunny, with notable exceptions such as Shaun Of The Dead.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

I never saw Gavin and Stacy so I can't comment on that... when it comes to British Comedy films I think we have a good tradition of decent films (from python to many a carry on) but then we go and spoil it all but allowing comedians to showcase themselves - be it this, cannon and ball etc

Unknown said...

I hate this film right form the title. I don't want to see Lesbian Vampires killed I want them to win in the end, and that's irreverent to whether or not it's a comedic take.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

To be fair, there are worse things within the content, but I sympathise with the position, unknown