Friday, September 10, 2010

Dead Teenagers – review

Director: Chris LaMartina

Release date: 2007

Contains spoilers

The portmanteau film – oft copied seldom successful. You would think that the idea of doing shorts with a wraparound would be easy – so much less writing is necessary per story and the short format leads to a natural level of forgiveness for small errors in the filming.

However the ability to make a satisfying short is an art in itself and to then make the wraparound satisfying – or somehow hold things together if you do an anthology film without the portmanteau wraparound – is clearly not as easy as one would imagine, especially on a low budget.

the story Suckers
Dead teenagers is a portmanteau done on a very low budget. A man (Kyle Good) goes into a library, looking for a book. Someone behind a shelf pokes a book out that falls to the floor near him. Hand written and illustrated he clearly is intrigued and takes it to a desk and starts to read. Each segment he reads is one of the stories and our vampire section is called Suckers. Incidentally there is a pay-off to the wraparound so blooming obvious that you could see it from orbit.

film in film
Suckers starts with a really crap budget looking scene; two men discuss the vampire victim wife of one of them, whilst one whittles stakes. The crowd in the cinema are laughing at the material on screen and one wonders whether the intention was to hide the worst excesses of the real film but having a really crap film within the film. Nevertheless we are in a cinema. Worker Brian (Dan Vidor) sees a girl (Beth Ashton) on the back row – she smiles at him.

old movie
The next day he and fellow worker Kevin (Joe Bahar) have to clean out part of the cinema. They go into a disused room, which is full of crap, and find a ladder. Brian climbs it and sees long (coffin like) boxes and finds a film reel. He puts the reel on and after scenes of a bird flying there is an image of the girl sat on a chair. The film must be 50 years old but he recognises her as the girl from the night before. The new landlord (Mike LaMartina) comes for his cheque and we hear that a chain is buying the cinema out.

Anyway, long story, which pootles along at its own pace, short – eventually the girl approaches Brian, ruffles his hair and looks like she might kiss him. He runs to his car and notices that she has no reflection. So he buys supplies (stakes and a cross). Kevin thinks he’s mad but is soon bitten and we play a game of who might be bitten and turned into a vampire. Thing is it just doesn’t add anything to the genre.

she's behind you
The lore seems to be stake (including a staking by plunger) to kill and vanish, a bite turns and vampires have no reflections. They seem to be night dwellers. There isn’t much else and it is a shame as there was a whole concept waiting to be tapped. Why does Brian freak at her being a vampire when she hasn’t threatened him at that point (especially as he seems obsessed with her)? Why the biting rampage? Who are in the other boxes? What, with the old film, the clear fascination Brain and the vampire have for each other and a desire to stop the corporate takeover destroying their hiding place – there was a film here that wasn’t filmed, and the ideas that might have been accessed could have made a full length feature. As it is, the segment is low budget and goes nowhere slowly. As I like to do with this sort of film, the score is for the vampire segment only. 2 out of 10. The imdb page is here.

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