Sunday, June 09, 2019

Vamp or Not? Panic

This is a 1982 film directed by Tonino Ricci and also released as Bakterion and Monster of Blood, amongst a slew of titles. Though filmed in England it was an Italian/Spanish production with an international cast (dubbed, of course) and felt like it should have appeared a decade previously (though that wouldn’t have helped the quality).

I watched it as a throwaway grindhouse flick and didn’t expect that I would end up having to look at it under ‘Vamp or Not?’ Now, one thing that can make such a determination tricky is a lack of cohesion in a film’s narrative… In this case it feels as though the filmmakers had looked for the word cohesion in a dictionary but avoided the words beginning with C. It also features Captain Kirk (David Warbeck, Twins of Evil & Razor Blade Smile) but don’t get excited – he isn’t *that* Captain Kirk.

cover up
The film starts in a lab and scientist Jane Blake (Janet Agren, City of the Living Dead) notices a blinking light, something is wrong with the experiment being carried out on rodents and they are attacking each other – she sounds the alarm and hazard suit wearing guys come in but one of the rodents has smashed its tank vanished. We also see someone (it isn’t clear whether a random person or our antagonist) with green gunk obscuring and burning their face. There is a meeting and a decision to cover up the accident but one of the key scientists, Professor Adams (Roberto Ricci), is missing (presumed gone fishing).

David Warbeck as Captain Kirk
However, the lab does secret Government contract work and Captain Kirk is dispatched to check out the lab. He looks for Adams but instead finds the scientist's bodyguard stuffed up a chimney (with a bad case of being dead). Meanwhile something is stalking the town and killing people. The film doesn’t show us what at first, and actually implies it might be a mutated (and now giant) rodent. These attacks are being investigated by police Sergeant O'Brien (José Lifante, Tiempos duros para Drácula & the Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue) and soon O’Brien and Kirk team up. The attacks are brutal, there are burns from something and the bodies are drained of blood.

Adams mutated
The crux is that a mutated Adams is using the sewers and Roman tunnels to get around town for the purpose of attacking people and drinking their blood. Does he have the virus? Unclear – it seems to be a substance (bacteria?) that mutated him and we see no evidence that a virus is out and infecting people. The government are taking no chances though. They use the army to seal off the town, cut communications with the outside world and are going to bomb the place and concoct a cover story unless a solution can be found (which seems to be cure or kill Adams). Is he a vampire though?

blood drinking
To be honest the only connection is blood drinking – and he is definitely doing that. He is mutated but his shambling incoherent self actually strikes a zombie chord (though he does seem to recognise and listen to Jane at one point). Whilst he does go for the manager of the lab, all his other victims seem random – indeed the population of the town seem to exist only to be dropped into the narrative and either be killed by the monster or else offer strange, unnatural conversation to move said narrative along. There does seem to be a resilience against weaponry, but then they might all be bad shots. There is a part of me tempted towards zompire and the blood drinking means a vampire argument can be made.

The imdb page is here.

On DVD @ Amazon US

On DVD @ Amazon UK

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