Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bonnie and Clyde vs. Dracula – review

Director: Timothy Friend

Release Date: 2008

Contains spoilers

I was looking forward to this… but I knew I shouldn’t. Deep down I suspected that as fantastic as the premise sounded – and who could knock the idea of America’s most infamous crime duo mixed in with Dracula – that the end result would be poor.

I am very pleased to report that I was wrong. It isn’t perfect but it is a genuinely fun, bullet and fang rollercoaster.

We begin with a flayed corpse, or so it seems until it gasps for breath… In a car a couple drive along. She’s hungry and he wants to knock over a nearby farmhouse, they might make enough to get to the next town. They pose as brush sellers and get the foot in the door. But the housewife is no housewife and her husband no dirt farmer. They are knocking over a house already invaded by Bonnie (Tiffany Shepis) and Clyde (Trent Hagga).

Jennifer Friend as Annabel
The would be crime duo are killed and lose their car to the anti-social anti-heroes of our little flick. Meanwhile, over in Loveless manor, we meet the bag-over-the-head wearing Dr Archibald Loveless (Allen Lowman) and his simplistic and childlike sister Annabel (Jennifer Friend). She reports that *his* skin has grown back – referring to Dracula (Russell Friend). Annabel has an electric collar that her brother uses to control her and we later discover that he has a degenerative disease – of unknown type – hence the bag over his head.

dancing in blood
Bonnie and Clyde have a midnight picnic when they are attacked by two rednecks. Clyde is knocked out and Bonnie disposes of them by slitting their throats and dancing in their blood. Whilst it leads to amorous activity, the next day Bonnie is less than impressed that her only dress is bloodstained. They are on their way to meet Henry (F Martin Glynn) to try and get a job together. Henry is staying at a dive of a bar.

Dracula reforming
The bar used to also be a cathouse but Loveless has bought all the whores. These he has fed to Dracula, for he found his remains, has brought him back to life and hopes to unlock a cure for his degenerative disease via the vampire. Once he has reached a certain level of regeneration Loveless releases Dracula from his cell and tries to have Annabel help the vampire up the stairs – but the very touch of her burns.

Dracula reveals fangs
Now this was new lore and really interesting – the touch, even the presence, of the truly innocent burns the vampire. Even more interesting is the fact that Loveless argues that she is not pure – that she lies and steals and yet she does have a child’s demeanour and Dracula confirms that she is truly innocent.

Vampire Bonnie
Anyway, Loveless sets up a dinner party were Dracula will vampirise the guests to give a supply of vampires for the mad doctor to experiment with. Annabel seeks a way to escape the house and her nasty brother. Meanwhile Bonnie and Clyde are involved in a job that goes wrong. Bonnie is sent to get a doctor for one of their partners who is injured and she goes to Loveless’ house. When she takes too long to come back Clyde goes after her but, of course, Dracula has already turned her.

Will she attack Clyde or side with him; can the gangster kill Dracula and escape a house full of vampires?

'the process' keeps Loveless alive
As I said, I expected little and got a rather good film in return but I also suggested that the film wasn’t perfect. It was good but I did feel there was an elusive something missing. Perhaps it was in the fact that some aspects – for instance Loveless’ disease – were not elaborated on, perhaps it was in the fact that – despite the title – there wasn’t a huge amount of versus going on or perhaps it was in the fact that they tried to cram a little too much in the way of threads into the film?

Bonnie and Clyde
Whatever it was, it was difficult to put my finger on but it was there. It prevented a good film being a great film. One thing that I could put my finger on, however, was within the blood fx. We had the Bonnie slitting the throat scene that included post-production cgi blood, which was only seen for a split second but did look poor. Worse we had Clyde shooting the hell out of a contact at one point, but no blood loaded squibs were used and so the unfortunate fellow fell back, peppered with invisible shots that produced no blood. All that said, it was a good film despite the problems and Tiffany Shepis in particular deserves recognition for her performance.

Other than the innocence lore, the majority of the film follows atypical vampire lore – no reflections, sunlight kills and vampires regenerate. Clyde suggests that whilst bullets won’t kill vampires they will slow them down.

Fun, but could have been even more fun. 6.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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