Sunday, February 14, 2010

Vamp or Not? Lich


I was perusing through the goods at a market when I spotted the DVD of the 2004 film Lich and my eyes were drawn to the tagline “She found the secret to immortality… death.” Turning the case over my eyes alighted upon the phrase “bathing in the blood of her victims” and “killing and feeding!” So even though a lich and a vampire are two different creatures I had hopes.

The DVD was also very cheap and, as indicated, for sale in a market so I had no doubt it would be of a low, low budget.

We get a view of bathing in blood at the very start of the film, along with a man (Corey Greenan) tied down in crucifixion pose, bleeding. The blood drips down plastic sheets and is collected in any form of receptacle. The music playing is an interesting choice, voice and piano float hauntingly belying the obvious camcorder shoot and very amateurish pictures that adorn the walls (note that, clearly, not every killer will be able to draw like Picasso but somehow we expect it in our film killers!)

Samantha Klein as MaggieCut to a girl, Maggie (Samantha Klein), reading a letter, interspersed with a nurse (Numa Perrier) walking through the halls of her hospital. Patients drool and fuss in the corridors and she is taking a tray of breakfast to Maggie. From the letter Maggie discovers her old house has been sold. She belts the nurse with a tray, steals her scrubs and escapes. Now, this much didn’t ring true. The asylum did not seem very much like a hospital, it seemed too easy for Maggie to escape. But we’ll let that pass.

Steve Siegel as BillMaggie meets with a man, Bill (Steve Siegel). He was the one who sent her the letter and now he gives Maggie a gun – but he won’t go with her. All through these opening scenes we see flashes to Maggie's sister Tabetha (Tammy Filor) and the rituals she performed. Maggie heads to her house that has been bought by Chaz (Billy Parish, who also wrote and directed the film) and his wife Alison (Georgia Cobb). They are due to have friends around and Alison decides to take a bath before they arrive.

blood bathingThe bath tub is where Tabetha bathed in blood. We see her lying in the water as Alison gets in. It becomes clear that Alison has been possessed. Ginny (Monica Huntington, who would go on to be in Bled) and her new guy Gerry (Brian Thomas Barnhart) show up. They are going to explore the house when Alison comes downstairs and the doorbell rings. She touches Ginny who doubles in pain. Shrugging off the visually noticable stomach cramp as nothing, Ginny and Gerry head upstairs, where Ginny comes on strong with Gerry.

Ginny, possessed and feedingMeanwhile downstairs Alison seems confused and the doorbell rings again. It is the other expected friends, Susan (Corrine Dekker) and John (Hilliard Guess). Upstairs we see that Ginny is now possessed – when folks are possessed we sometimes see through their eyes in a yellowy-grey tint. She stabs Gerry with a pair of scissors (rather effectively as he does not scream out) and starts drinking the blood from his wound. Downstairs Maggie arrives and asks to come in, she is refused but pushes past as a scream resonates through the house.

The screamer is Ginny as the spirit left her and she regained consciousness above Gerry’s body. Her mouth is covered in blood. Everyone is upstairs and Maggie says to tie her up, when they refuse she pulls the gun and says that she will explain when Ginny is tied up. This is a ruse to ensure that Ginny is not possessed as her sister (she thinks) wouldn’t allow herself to be tied.

Maggie as seen in lich visionThey all go downstairs and she explains that her sister was a Satanist and often did rituals that involved drinking blood. Her final ritual was supposed to give her eternal life. She slaughtered twenty people and made a bath of blood (how she prevented the blood from clotting is not explained… well, sorry but these things strike me when I watch such a film). She conducted ritual suicide in the bath. Maggie was meant to get in the bath to finish the ritual (and be possessed). She admits that she is looking for Tabetha’s journal as it should suggest how they can stop her.

a cheeky vintageTabetha is currently in the cat (anyone who has watched Fallen wouldn’t have missed that one) and manages to get into Susan, gag Ginny, kill John and vanish off whilst the others are upstairs looking for the journal. Help is at hand, however, as Bill turns up. He was the one who turned Tabetha onto Satanism (though it was all very low key for him) and luckily he knows a lot about Tabetha as he has her journal. Why he didn’t hand it to Maggie in the first place, the God of continuity and plot holes only knows.

ritual murderAnyway he explains that her spirit is able to pass from person to person by touch. She must drink blood to sustain her energy but whilst someone is possessed they have supernatural regenerative powers, heightened senses and super strength. The host manages to regain control after some time has passed. The only one she can’t jump into is Maggie as she has a pendant, given to her at the time of the ritual, that she was meant to put on after she got in the bath. The pendant prevents possession but will seal possession when worn by one already possessed (until removed again). It also gives her the ability to raise and control the dead when she has it on her person. Why no one decided just to break the damn pendant is beyond me – it was my first thought. She can be killed by killing the host she is in (so long as she doesn’t manage to jump hosts).

drinking bloodI won’t go further into the plot as we have all the lore and whilst this is, at its base, spirit possession is sounds pretty darn vampiric to me. The use of bathing in blood and suicide to create the undead is pretty much vampiric. The fact that she has to drink blood to maintain her energy was also vampiric. Hell even the pendant, whilst unusual, has resonances in some vampire films where a piece of jewellery carries vampiric powers – in this case it would be raising the dead, more than anything, which is also a sometimes used vampiric power.

Billy Parish as ChazThe film itself is right royally attacked on imdb. Virtually all the reviews are scathing. Okay it was shot on a shoestring, some of the performances are terrible, the lighting is pedestrian at best, the dialogue isn’t always the best and there were really strange plot moments (like Bill not passing the journal on, or telling Maggie all he knew, in the first instance). But it was an unusual vampire type and I have seen much, much worse – I actually quite enjoyed it in a low budget sort of way. Tightening up of script, more directorial practice and a bigger budget might see Billy Parish making some interesting films. For now, however, this one is Vamp. The imdb page is here.


Sarah from Scare Sarah said...

Maybe she kept the blood moving like with blood donations? Just saying.

Sounds cool. Love these b movies.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

lol - I just don't think it'd happen in a bath tub - especially if she's luring one, killing them, ditching the body X20 (not stated in film, but certainly intimated) - that said it is just my own cynicism when it comes to these things...

and all that said, I thought of that as I watched, then dismissed it and carried on watching and enjoying - because despite the low budget I did rather enjoy this one.