Saturday, September 18, 2010

Vampire Night – review

Director: Jason Robert Stephens

Release date: 2000

Contains spoilers

It seems strange to think that just 10 years ago (at time of review) we were still saying straight to video – rather than DVD. Yet this was a straight to video effort and, to be honest, it was a little bit poor but, that said, it was an independent effort and that counts for something and there was one performance… well, we’ll get to that.

coffin in the room
A man and woman walk towards an industrial unit, he gives her instructions about letting him in as soon as she gets in. However she is met by a young lad who seems surprised to see the man with her. He lets them both in. There is a coffin in the room and they are attacked by vampires, led by Vezrech (Robert Michael Ryan). The girl was meant to come alone – and be vampire chow, and the young guy they met is the vampire’s day servant. Vezrech rips the man’s head from his shoulders.

Heather Metcalf as Peggy Sue
Peggy Sue (Heather Metcalfe) – and yes they really did call the character that – is packing her bags but a car pulls up in the drive. It is her brother Carl (Jimmy Jerman). He is somewhat muscle bound and was in the navy until their parents died. He left the navy to look after her. She is leaving for LA to become an actress, and has an agent already. He knows he can’t stop her so tells her to be careful.

theatre flyer
Off the bus and she gets mugged – later, when Carl arrives the same guy tries to mug him, the only villain in LA clearly, and the only black person in the movie is a mugger, which seems a little suspect in respect of the casting policy. Anyway she goes to see the agent, Johnny Hollywood (Pat Downey) and he sends her to a theatre where she will get acting training and have a role in the currently running play. He ensures she has no boyfriend or family (she neglects to mention Carl).

on stage biting
She goes to see Blood and, afterwards (once the bemused audience has left) she is met and told to bring her stuff the next night, she will stay at the theatre and be trained. Yes they are vampires and Hollywood is luring girls with no family from out of state to feed to them. Once she returns she is bitten and used as a foodstuff.

Les Sekely as the homeless man
Of course no one bet on Carl, who travels with his arsenal of borrowed weapons, meets up with his navy friend Jack Cross and starts searching for Peggy Sue. Now I mentioned a performance and there was one that stuck out. He meets a homeless man (Les Sekely) who knows about vampires and helps him. Sekely was brilliant, offering a slightly deranged performance that actually had pathos. He is the highlight of the film.

There was also some interesting lore. We hear that some vampires are daywalkers – this does not seem to impact into the film at all, until the coda and we realise we have been seeing a daywalking vampire through the film, unbeknown to ourselves. Stephens who wrote the film as well as directing also came up with a solution to the turning process.

Vezrech's bite turns
Vezrech is a master vampire; his bite turns and, so, he does not feed on humans unless he wishes to turn them. His minions feed on humans, as their bites do not turn the victim, and he feeds on his minions. Okay, there is a gender bias built in, given that he is male and they are all females, but the core idea was interesting.

Of course, the concept of vampires feeding in plain site, on stage, has been done before – most notably in Interview with the Vampire. Unfortunately, having seen that wonderfully Gothic moment in the earlier film, this film’s effort was a damp squib.

Carl - doing the hero thing
I have to mention the ending scene with the heroes – pure cheese, complete with perma-grins.

This is poor, don’t get me wrong. However, the idea re turning and feeding was interesting, Sekely played a blinder and there is some sort of kudos that has to be given for pulling together a film with absolutely no budget and a lot (it seems) of inexperience. 2 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

find Vampire Night on Amazon US [VHS]

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