Friday, September 25, 2020

Honourable Mentions: the Curse of Valburga

Directed by Tomaž Gorkič and released in 2019, this is primarily a Slovenian slasher film but it does touch into the vampire genre in a few ways – with a fleeting visitation at the end. It is particularly B, with vaguely drawn character caricatures but, as a take your brain out B it holds together as a beer and buddies’ flick. Just to make it clear, the Swedish DVD cover (illustrated) does not reflect the film in any way. 

It starts with a Swedish black magician, Sven – played by black metal musician Niklas Kvarforth, doing some form of rite. We then, after credits, meet Bojan (Marko Mandic) in a bar. He sees a woman, who he tries to attract by whistling at her and – in quite a satisfying turnaround – she eventually cuts him down to size. It isn’t perfectly feminist as she is drawn quite bitchily rather than assertive (the film probably wouldn’t lay claim to principles) but it nailed him nicely.

planning the tour

As she leaves, his brother Marjan (Jurij Drevensek) enters (and literally bumps into her). He has arranged to meet Ferdo (Ziga Födransperg) there. There is banter as Marjan’s money making scheme is outlined. He has worked out that tourists will pay money to go on tours, there is an abandoned mansion (Valburga) that they could take tourists to and Ferdo’s security firm looks after the building. They would play on the myth that it once was home to Count Dracula’s cousin (who was referred to by the rank of Baron and not named). This, of course, is our first vampire connection.


Sven calls a contact in Slovenia – he wants booking on Marjan’s tour and a gun procuring. So, he is one of a disparate group who turn up at the mansion with Marjan. We have Sven with a woman and his local contact who are looking for a magic orb, a drunken husband and wife, a porn star, Vasily (Luka Cimpric), and two female porn stars who intend to sneak off and shoot a film. We also get a group of Goths. In this Goths describe their raison d'être as “We drink absinthe. We hunt and kill vampires”…all-righty then… but they believe in and are looking for a vampire (actually to hunt and get turned by).

Ferdo's headache

That is our next vampire connection, of course. Meanwhile Ferdo and Bojan are setting up a prop vampire and Bojan has vampire teeth and will act as the Baron – our next vampire connection. So far it is mentions, wishful thinking and preparing to act as a vampire. However, things go south when Ferdo gets a large circular saw blade to the skull and now we are in slasher territory. We get a primary slasher (in German military helmet and mask) and his cannibal family, with a crowbarred backstory that they have been hiding there (in the basement) since the Second World War.

actual vampire

It is the last scene that gets our final vampire connection. The drunk couple wake up in the morning, oblivious to the carnage and down to the last beer can. They head out and check which tourist site they are due to go to. The leaflet is dropped and flutters down a grate into the basement. We see blood running down a pedestal that goes down into a lower level again and drips onto a vampire (Davor Klaric), whose eyes open… the film ends…

the fake vampire

From a vampire genre point of view we get belief in vampires (and a connection to Dracula), the aim (at least) to act like a vampire and ultimately a fleeting visitation. The rest of the film is slasher with cannibalism. It isn’t high art, indeed it is unashamedly aware and comfortable with what it is. The comedy aspect lies uncomfortably, but comedy (as always) is subjective. The imdb page is here.

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