Monday, June 28, 2010

Eulogy for a Vampire – review

Director: Patrick McGuinn

Release date: 2009

Contains spoilers

US film Eulogy for a Vampire is currently available on DVD from France under the title Mon Vampire. The film itself is, beyond anything else, a psycho-sexual drama and we can trace its roots to films such as the Blood Spattered Bride, though in this case the sexual theme is a gay theme.

Unfortunately it doesn’t reach to the same heights that the Blood Spattered Bride reached, as a piece of cinema. This is down to it being partly too obvious and in other parts being too story-obscure. We will explore that as we explore the film.

The film begins with a view of a priest, Father Anthony (Wilson Hand) and the pre-credit film is an exploration of what occurred when he was a young man (played by Sal Bardo) at the monastery run by the Order of Pathicus. This is where we begin to be too obvious. The order (then, it seems, and 25 years later when Anthony helps run the Monastery) attracts men who cannot control their urges nor stick to their vows of celibacy. Not to be unexpected when you name your religous order (Pathicus) using what I understand is the Latin for the passive partner in gay anal sex.

grainy film effects
One man who seems to be pious and controlled is Florian (Ryan G Metzger). Then again he has been refused ritual fasting and has taken to wearing a cilice. Anthony is in love with Florian but Florian declares such love wrong and Anthony’s cross to bear. Anthony states that if he cannot have Florian then no-one, not even God, can. He kisses the young man as he stabs him in the stomach. We should also note, round this point, the use of a very grainy effect on the film that most probably covers up any filmic sins.

unexplained blood ritual
I mentioned that the film is often too story-obscure. Before Anthony kills Florian we see a sacrifice of a goat and then many young men rubbing blood onto Anthony’s chest. The film later shows us a pendant with a symbol I supposed to be occult and what appeared to be a grimoire with the same symbol – that Anthony recognises. What is this occult path the young novice tread? The film doesn’t actually explain and yet it would seem to be a vitally important piece of the puzzle.

flagelation, the order of the day
Post-credit the film skips 25 years forward. Anthony and Father Lars (David McWeeney) run the monastery now. Their novices are the onanistic Matthew (Darin Guerrasio), Rafael (Damacio Ruiz) a young novice who doubts his faith and place at the monastery and who is having a physical relationship with Eric (Craig Philip Lumsden) and, finally, the rather camp Stefano (Nate Steinwachs) who is sick of hearing Rafael and Eric at it and so blackmails Rafael for a bit of sex as well. There is an eviscerated animal on the lawn (probably a goat), that Anthony puts down to nearby schools, though they seem fairly isolated. Their connection with the outside world is McGee (Shawn Hollenbach) and he is wearing a pendant left at his store by a hitchhiker (the occult symbol I mentioned).

holy glowing crates, batman
Eric starts hearing strange noises from the basement – which has not been unlocked for twenty five years. In the basement is a trunk that glows. Rafael speaks to Eric about Stefano’s blackmail demands but – before he can pay up, as it where – they hear howling noises from outside. They find a man, Sebastian (Angelo Tursi), passed out on the lawn. Stefano becomes obsessed with the man – dreaming as he watches over him and, in his dreams cuts his arm. When he wakes the cut is there in reality. Sebastian has the grimoire and Anthony recognises the symbol.

Fabian has returned
From here-on-in things get less clear rather than more. Stefano is obsessed with Sebastian (and later we see Lars sniffing Sebastian's underwear) but the drifter seems more interested in Rafael. We also start to see Florian reappearing and preying upon Matthew, taking blood from him and eventually vampirising him. It may well be that Florian and Sebastian are one and the same but the film isn’t clear on that point.

brutal attack scene
Later Anthony declares that they, the ones turned, are Nosferatu and chases at least one away by crucifix. When we see a full on vampiric attack it is nicely brutal rather than erotic in anyway. There isn’t really that much else lore wise. It may well be that there was an occult rite involved – we do see a flashback of Anthony asking for help and it seems to be a devilish silhouette.

walking on water
However the main theme of the film seems to be the danger of denial of ones more basic urges. Yet there is a moment when Florian is almost likened to Christ because we see him walking on water and he was absolutely pious and celibate. So the "danger of denial" theme, at that point becomes confused. I did like the piano music that was used as the sombre soundtrack, feeling it added an atmosphere.

a dribble of blood
Unfortunately the film needed a clear direction and it does wander aimlessly. The performances of the actors are not perfect, rather stagey at times. If we take Nate Steinwachs’ performance as an example he has a rather expressive face and that needed holding more in check, as it was his performance came across as a parody more than drama and that was a shame given that the film was played entirely straight (as it were). The pace of the film was also languid. Now, I rather like a slower pace, on occasion, but for many this will be off-putting.

This film will find a cult following, I am sure, but for me it needed to be more explicit in its storytelling to underscore where the drama was to go. 4 out of 10. The imdb page is here.


Zahir Blue said...

Have actually seen this film, and pretty much agree 100% with your comments.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

cheers Zahir

Sarah from Scare Sarah said...

Hehe, looks cool!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

hi Sarah, as I say, currently available from France - the US DVD should be available from October 2010

Ponnappei said...

The film is now available on DVD in the U.S. from Amazon ~

Taliesin_ttlg said...

ponnappei, thanks for that