Sunday, February 07, 2016

The Vampire Count of Monte Cristo – review

Authors: Alexandre Dumas & Matthew Baugh

First published: 2013

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: 1815 – Marseille. Edmond Dantes is young, in love with the beautiful Mercedes, and has just been named the captain of the merchant vessel, Pharaon. It seems as if there is nothing but happiness and prosperity in the young man's future. Unfortunately, Edmond's success has brought jealous enemies. Danglars wants his career and Fernand wants his fiancée. The two conspire against Edmond and frame him for treason.

He is brought before Prosecutor deVillefort, who recognizes his innocence. Unfortunately, the Prosecutor is a man with his own secrets and he fears that freeing Edmond could bring them to light. He convicts Edmond and has him imprisoned in a dungeon from which no man has ever escaped.

1830 - The Château d'If. After fifteen years in his tiny cell, Edmond nearly loses his sanity. Then he meets a fellow prisoner, the brilliant scholar and mystic Abbé Faria. The two become close and Faria teaches Edmond languages, science, philosophy, and sorcery. Using his occult skills of divination he reveals the conspiracy. Faria hopes the revelation will give Edmond a sense of peace but instead it fires his desire for vengeance. When Faria falls ill and dies, Edmond breaks his promise to his friend and turns to the darkest form of magic.

He makes a pact with an unspeakable entity to help him escape and give him the power to destroy his enemies. Edmond Dantes dies in the Château d'If and is reborn as a vampire, an undead creature who hungers for revenge as much as he thirsts for blood.

1838 – Paris. The wealthy and mysterious Count of Monte Cristo arrives in Paris. He is an eccentric who is never seen eating or drinking and refuses to venture out in the daylight. Rumors abound that the Count is a vampire, but this only adds to the charismatic stranger's mystique. He becomes the center of Parisian society, seducing the entire city with his charm… including all of Edmond Dantes' enemies.

Things have changed in the years since Edmond was framed and his enemies have prospered. Danglers is now a banker and one of the richest men on the continent; deVillefort is the highest legal official in France; worst of all, Fernand--now a general and a war hero--is married to Mercedes. The Count plays a dangerous game, turning his dark arts to the destruction of these powerful men, and even their innocent children are caught up in his byzantine schemes. Will the innocent perish along with the guilty? And what of Edmond Dantes? Will he find redemption, or will he be swept up and destroyed by the very forces he has invoked?

The review: I’ve not read too many literary mash-ups, where the original classic is taken and changed, modernised or made horror or sci-fi. The Count of Monte Cristo was, on reflection, an obvious candidate for such a treatment however. We actually looked at the original story here as Dumas had the Count likened to a vampire – even Ruthven himself. The scene I relayed doesn’t actually happen in this retelling as Dumas wrote it, rather the conversation is referred to.

As for the mash-up author, Matthew Baugh, I had come across his work before in the forms of submissions for The Vampire Almanac Vol 1 and Vol 2 and so he was remarkably qualified to take the original work and re-work it in such a way that it is seamless in the telling. Unlike many mash-ups there was a choice to make the story serious, rather than add a comedic element, and this was an excellent decision.

The vampirism – in this case – is satanic in origin, due to the summoning of Zathael the Angel of vengeance who just so happened to be Satan before he fell. As a vampire, Monte Cristo is undead and able to pass his curse on. He develops, through Alchemy, a pill that helps stave off the blood lust and if he shares his blood he makes a connection with the mortal and puts them in thrall to him. Sunlight weakens him considerably and whilst a wound from a bullet or sword would neither bleed nor hurt him, if silver is involved it will cause damage.

We do get other supernatural creatures mentioned. Cristo’s servant Ali is said to be ridden by the orisha Ogoun. The Count relays, in passing, having met a fox spirit, werewolves and “the loathsome undead of Haiti”. As for vampires the Count suggests “There are as many species of vampire as there are beasts of prey.

This was great fun and a compelling read. Highly recommended 8.5 out of 10.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Drink Me – review

Director: Daniel Mansfield

Release date: 2015

Contains spoilers

Whilst there are very clear exceptions, there is a tendency for gay interest horror films to veer off into an exaggerated level of camp that does the sub-genre a disservice as the over-the-top stereotyping can overwhelm the film’s narrative.

Drink Me manages to avoid the “camp trap” with apparent ease, Daniel Mansfield clearly wanting to produce a strong film first and foremost. It isn’t perfect, especially in the narrative, however it is a fairly well put together psychosexual drama. It was also well done given the micro-budget involved.

telephone boxes
After the legend, “He who is thirsty dreams that he is drinking,” we start with Andy (Darren Munn) walking by a row of telephone boxes, one is ringing. He enters the telephone box and lifts the receiver, there is heavy breathing on the phone and he is grabbed from behind by an unseen assailant. He wakes up in bed next to his partner James (Emmett Friel). The dream seems to be gone as they shower together and then go to work.

the film is punctuated with dreams
There is a series of office establishing shots, including a dingy looking stairwell that I actually noted as being too many establishing shots – unbeknown to me the office really wouldn’t feature, but that underlines my feeling about it. We then see James finding an ornate box as he walks home. He takes it. The box, we discover, is a musical box and he hides it behind a fireguard in the bedroom fireplace. We then see them doing couple things but that is punctuated by another dream, this time Andy staggers, dishevelled, in the woods and is again grabbed.

Andy and James
He awakens to find the bed empty. He gets a card from a draw and finds James, in just an apron, making breakfast. James drops to one knee and asks Andy to marry him but something is wrong. Andy explains that he lost his job the day before. For a while things seem to go on as they were, at least on the surface. However the dreams still punctuate Andy’s slumber, he seems less than motivated to finding another job and the musical box apparently finds its own way onto a dresser and playing when he is alone in the house. Then James drops the bombshell – to help with the budget they are going to have to get a lodger in.

Sebastian in dreams
Sebastian (Chris Ellis-Stanton) is the lodger. He works nights – private security for VIPs he says – and is happy to give them cash in hand and only wants a room for a few months. He seems ideal. Andy seems, at first, fascinated by him and then both repulsed and jealous (he sees what he thinks are signs of James drifting to the new man). Meanwhile his behaviour becomes stranger (for instance we see him follow a man who ends up on a missing poster) and his dreams become darker – with Sebastian taking a role in them.

is it wine?
Could Sebastian be a vampire or just a killer? Is Andy performing violent acts but is unaware of it? Is the rather muddy looking wine Sebastian gives James actually wine? I think it is here that the film struggles just a tad. Mansfield builds the mystery and, as a psychosexual drama, the collapse between dreams and reality is a fair trope to play with. The actions of the three get stranger and stranger but none of it (or all of it) may be real.

However there is a certain narrative edge that is missing. It needed that narrative to push through the film with more vigour. It is only a little stumble as the symbolic aspect, the psychosexual motifs, are well put together. However I would have liked to see a firmer narrative. The leads all do fairly well – Darren Munn does seem a tad unsure at times, but that actually may be deliberate given the fragile state of his character. Chris Ellis-Stanton has a fantastic line in sneers.

This had a chance to be great, the gingerly approach to the core narrative probably hamstrung that but it certainly deserves 5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Nocturna (2015) – review

Director: Buz Alexander

Release date: 2015

Contains spoilers

Blame Anne Rice but New Orleans and vampires now seem inseparable and this is one that takes place in said city – as well as the bayou.

It is, of course, a great setting – though this could have been transplanted to any setting, the City relegated to being only a backdrop rather than a character in its own right.

forced suicide
It starts with establishing shots from the city, Mardi Gras, cemeteries and hoodoo shops that won’t feature in the film. A man, in a remote house in the bayou, is painting the teeth of a taxidermy gator. We see a child, Katherine (Olivia Renee Dupepe), run and he hears a noise. He searches his house, holding a gun, and sees a woman, Belinda (Estella Warren), singing Amazing Grace. A man, Mauricio (Billy Blair), grabs him and throws him. They are looking for their “daughter”. When they fail to find her Mauricio uses *the voice* on the man and has him shoot himself.

Cody and Harry
Harry (Mike Doyle) is a veteran detective. His Captain (Dane Rhodes, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter) takes him to see newly promoted detective Roy Cody (Danny Agha) sparring in a boxing ring. Cody is the mayor’s nephew and Harry’s new partner. They get called out to the “suicide” and the uniformed cops have found a “parish kid” – Katherine. As far as Harry is concerned the death is an obvious suicide and as soon as he realises Katherine has a mark on her hand he wants to cut the child loose. Cody insists on taking her home.

Billy Blair as Mauricio
Home is not her home – that location is a secret we discover – but a large house in a no-go-zone parish. Cody insists on walking her to the house, which is filled with artily dressed people. Belinda and Mauricio are there and, when Cody looks to get all cop-like Mauricio uses the voice to bring him to his knees and put the gun in his own mouth. The vampire tells Cody to kill himself but he fights the voice and shoots Mauricio in the head instead. Meanwhile Harry, ordered by the Captain to get Cody out of there, has found himself “road blocked” by wolves.

vampire voguing?
The owner of the place, which is designated a club called Nocturna, is Brisbane (Johnathon Schaech, the Forsaken: Desert Vampires) and he orders the members of the Moldero clan out – the clan being those vampires who own Katherine. He is impressed that Cody resisted the voice and offers him a job – a 'work for us during the day and we’ll protect you at night' type of deal. Cody refuses, gets outside, collapses and Harry takes him to hospital.

confronted in hospital
The cover story is that Cody was robbed. Harry is leaving the hospital for the night, with an officer remaining on watch, when a woman enters kills the guard and lets Mauricio and his right hand man Carlo (Massimo Dobrovic) in through a window. Cody manages to get away and is rescued by Harry who takes him to the safest place he knows – a strip joint. That night they take Brisbane up on his offer. They are told that the Moldero’s are a diseased bloodline who cannot feed on adults. On the contrary Brsibane has a room of adult blood cows – all criminals who escaped mortal justice. Also in the mix is vampire Lydia (Mariana Paola Vicente), who had been a child slave of the Moldero’s (given she nursed in the Civil War, that was some time ago) and who falls for Harry. Brisbane wants to know where the Moldero’s sleep.

Mariana Paola Vicente as Lydia
So far so good, Harry’s wife (we discover) was killed by vampires and he discovers it was the Moldero’s, givimg him some extra motivation. The lore is a bit odd in this, however, and was perhaps one of the main weaknesses. There are interesting ideas such as “the starved” a room of desperate starved vampires that Moldero keeps – of course this is not a new concept but whilst the idea was fine the actual execution was pretty anticlimactic. The idea that they can’t feed on adults was strange but had a definite potential. Vampire blood can heal humans but Lydia is going to die as she gives Harry too much – it feels counter-intuitive that it is he who realises giving her a victim to drain will save her, not her.

blood tears
Once a human takes in enough vampire blood it imbues them with powers, including the voice – something Lydia doesn’t have, but Harry develops. As an aside, the fact that Cody’s immunity to the voice was not further explored was a mistake. Having had too much vampire blood, it sounds as though Harry will be addicted (cold turkey being comprised of the shakes, blindness and then death) and so needs Lydia. Later this shifts to her blood killing him anyway. Vampires burn in the sun but can survive immolation (it seems). Mauricio survives a head shot, which scatters his brains across the floor, but assault rifles can apparently kill a vampire. Beheading certainly works and an upset vampire cries blood tears. I assume the wolves were animal servants, there is no evidence given of shape shifting.

a parish kid
So, the story was ok but it became a little too obvious at times. It befuddles me how Brisbane couldn’t find the Moldero hideout when the cops do so in a day. The lore needed tidying, honing and properly articulating. That said it was a fair enough watch, a passing distraction for an hour and a half but was nothing special. 5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Zombies Vs the Lucky Exorcist – review

Director: Jaguar Lim

Release date: 2015

Contains spoilers

Where to begin?

Despite taking a typically Hong Kong basis for the story this is a Malaysian film that was directed, produced, written by and starred (in multiple roles) Jaguar Lim.

The film is clearly a comedy but that doesn’t really help the viewer as the jokes become rapidly threadbare. The film does feature a profusion of monster types.

finding the grave
A guy and two girls visit a Taoist master (Jaguar Lim) concerned about their grandfather’s grave and the bad luck it is bringing. Lim (as I’ll refer to the Taoist master) has divined all this (or overheard their conversation) and they go out to where grandfather is buried. After some ritual they dig up the coffin (though the night has fallen by the time they finish digging). They open it and see that the grandfather’s corpse has not decayed.

Lim decides they should burn the corpse, but the coffin closes itself and so he decides to burn the coffin too. At this point the lid flies off and the kyonsi (referred to in the DVD subtitles as a zombie) rises. They run into an abandoned hut and Grandpa follows them and so (as they have seen it in Hong Kong movies) they try holding their breaths. This seems to work until Lim farts – a gag we have seen far too many times and sums up the humour level in this. We also realise later than bites do not turn in this, as the kyonsi bites Lim’s ass.

knocked back by garlic fart
Suddenly they are aware of a western vampire watching them – they give a genus name of a Dracula. The Dracula and the kyonsi fight – the Dracula wins and then turns on the mortals. It leaps at them as Lim gives out an almighty fart and knocks the Dracula out – he has been eating garlic snacks. This gag is accompanied with a cloud of gas and the level of the humour gets no better really. Lim accidentally stakes the Dracula with his wooden Taoist sword – he is, after all, the lucky exorcist.

suck the life right out of that man
He sends the others home as he looks for his compass, falls and knocks himself out. He awakens in the morning and is looking for a way out of the forest when he meets a girl who seems rather into him – but is in effect a ghost with a rotten face when her true form is revealed. His amour is interrupted (luckily) by a child kyonsi but she does at one point seem to suck his energy from him (making her a vampiric ghost and an energy vampire).

preparing for mystical battle
The child kyonsi belongs to a Taoist (Bobby Yip) who comes to rescue him. Apparently Lim’s ancestors were from China and all had red hair. One ancestor fought with a witch who cursed the line. A descendant (Hidy Yu) of the witch is now hunting Lim. Lim gets further help (after a Buddhist, Feng Shui master and someone who channels the Monkey King all abandon him) from a shaman called Osman (Kieran). The Taoist brings 3 child kyonsi to the fight, the shaman brings 3 Toyol. They fight the witch and (more with luck than anything else) win.

a Malaysian zombie
And we’re half way through the film, which just meanders on with Lim trying to find three kyonsi (perhaps the child ones grown) as we are subjected to plenty of fart, poo and pee gags. We also get a Malaysian zombie at one point and another Dracula and a child Dracula (essentially a kid in the same outfit). It’s a hodgepodge of ideas that never quiet gels into anything coherent. We do get a lot of histrionics and screaming.

a Dracula
What interested me most about the film was the further use of Dracula as a genus (and, given that child kyonsi are a thing in films the logical step to have a child Dracula too). However, the lack of a cohesive story made my interest wane very quickly. Jaguar Lim does have a charm about him but I think he probably needs to concentrate on one thing in the film, rather than be a one man band. The direction was pedestrian and the story weak to non-existent, so perhaps he needs to get scriptwriters and a good director and just be in front of the camera.

boarding the flying banana
The film can’t really get any more than 2.5 out of 10 and I suspect that the fact that the film actually has a flying banana in it (as well as the obvious sexual joke) has bolstered the score for the audacity of the scene. Incidentally, that scene features Lim plus a grandpa and grandma character both played by Lim as well. At the time of review I could find no IMDb page.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Katherine – review

Director: Charles W. Bailey

Release date: 2015

Contains spoilers

When a film is dedicated to one of its actors, who died shortly after the film was completed it seems, one feels a bit awkward in the review if that film were poor. Nevertheless this reviewer owes his loyalty to watchers of vampire films and not filmmakers.

So, with that opening, you have already got a flavour for what I think about the film but, whilst it was poor, there was an aspect to it I really liked and I will, of course, touch on that as I go. The film is also known as Carlos Dunn’s Katherine, Dunn being the writer, and is based on a short story “When Pedro Met Vanessa” by Dunn. You should note that the vimeo edition of the film has hard-coded Spanish subtitles.

I'm sorry,it's just bad
It starts in Mexico and vampire Senorita Landin (Tempast Wulf, the Vampire Diaries) wakes. She goes in to her kitchen and a confounding aspect of the film raises its ugly head. I’d already spotted bad cgi lava in a Mexico establishing shot, but really… a cgi victim hung up in the kitchen. Why not get an actor there, or hang the director up? Why not just a bag of blood in the fridge to establish her nature? This is poor and the cgi is a consistent problem in the film. When her eyes vamp that is cgi too and then she is killed by a vampire hunter.

a post-apocalyptic Gothic warrior
We get a potted history of the church’s war on vampirism, of them hiding its existence and working to wipe out the blasphemy. One of their agents is a loose cannon called Rooney (Michael Heggedus). Meanwhile in Miami, a woman, Sandra (Mel Heflin) approaches a distraught woman, Megan (Ashleigh Morghan), in a hotel corridor. Sandra tries to get her to go with her and eventually her eyes do a cgi flash and I assume the vampires have eye mojo as Megan follows her. We see another woman, Andrea (Christa Johnston), looking like a post-apocalyptic Gothic warrior coming from a lift. One wonders what the front desk made of it?

I'm turning cgi
In the hotel room Sandra talks to Megan. She holds her hand (cue bad cgi flames around the hand that indicate psychic connection) and discovers that the woman is distraught because she is dying of leukaemia but is also pregnant. Sandra makes her an offer, become like she is and she won’t die and her baby will be fine. The offer is quickly accepted and Sandra injects Megan with her blood – cue more awful cgi as she turns. Andrea bursts in and stakes Megan whilst Sandra escapes. This scene encapsulates the aspect I liked – but I’ll get to that momentarily.

night vision goggles
Before then we see Sandra in Nashville. She is hanging around a parking lot and is approached by a guy named David (Chris McCail). Getting in his car she attacks him but stops short of killing him. She realises she has taken too much, becomes concerned and gives him instructions to stay safe whilst his body replenishes the blood she has taken. At this point Andrea attacks and captures Sandra, taking her home for some torture before killing.

Michael Heggedus as Rooney
And that is it, the aspect I liked, the vampires are nice. Main vampire Katherine (Tina Grimm) actually spares a pair of rapist thugs later – on the understanding that they’ll change their ways! On the other hand the hunters – Rooney and Andrea – are sadistic torturers and killers. Rooney is out of the US due to his habit of leaving collateral damage but the church call him back for Katherine. He has to work with Andrea – so murders her and makes it look like an accident by blowing her up with dynamite! Rooney has a habit of referring to himself in third person.

we didn't start the fire...
The acting seemed poor but that might have been the fault of the dialogue or, more so, the pace of the film, which was turgid. Honestly there were sections (Katherine and soon to be new lover John Smith (Andrew Schaefer) talking in a bar) that could have been great character insight if the pace wasn’t like wading through thick mud. I have mentioned the cgi – from cgi crosses on the front of cars, to blood splatter, to the turning and the victim hanging up. It brought the film to its knees. Why Katherine’s nipple had to be pixilated was beyond me – honestly, just don’t rip her top down if it’s going to be an issue.

a cgi cross on a car
Lore wise I have mentioned the eye-mojo. Sandra’s ability to read people is gypsy not vampire in origin. Sunlight and staking are an issue and when staked they dust in a bad cgi moment. No holy items are used on vampires so we don’t know if that is an issue or not. They have a susceptibility to being drugged – be that by tranquiliser darts or just a chloroform cloth over the mush – which is an unusual weakness, I’ll give them that. Sandra ends up scarred through the torture she suffered but Katherine’s blood heals that (so why her own blood didn’t heal it is a logical faux pas).

Then there was the bright spark of the turnaround. This has been done before, of course, but these vampires (or Sandra and Katherine at least) were so nice it felt like a fresh idea. For that reason only the film struggles up to a 2 out of 10. It can be purchased or hired at Vimeo.

The imdb page is here.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Bloody Indulgent – review

Director: Ken Roht

Release date: 2014

Contains spoilers

Apparently Kevin Scott Richardson is a Backstreet Boy (a boyband and not a sexual proclivity) and the thought of a pop person jumping onto the vampire bandwagon, replete with musical wheels, is not new. After all British pop combo McFly also did it, four years before, with the film Nowhere Left to Run.

The big difference with this vehicle is writer/director Ken Roht has not made this based on some radio friendly basis to please prepubescent fans. This is a gory, drug fuelled trip into a warped rock and roll dystopia, with lyrics that plumb sexual depths – and it is genuinely funny.

Coco performs
It starts in the Bootleg Club where Coco (Tracey Leigh) sings and strips (in a burlesque manner). Her act is followed by club owner Sid (Brian Gaskill), the unfunny magician, ably assisted by Dori (Laura Martin). Outside the vampire Burt (Kevin Scott Richardson) chases down his friend Todd (Brandon Heitkamp) for no other reason than he feels like it. As he does so, he sings… and as the line, “Surprise you f*cker!” is enunciated all radio-friendly boyband thoughts fall aside.

Kevin Scott Richardson as Burt
He bites Todd and cuts down his complaints about it hurting and about the fact that his girlfriend, Connie (Diva Zappa), hates vampires. When Todd becomes freaked out that he will now have to be bisexual (like all vampires) Burt dodges the point but then says he chose Todd over a nearby girl because he was hot – as in very warm-blooded. Todd returns to Bootleg but Burt is prevented from entering by bouncer Dwayne (Dylan Kenin, Let Me In) who holds up a cross. Burt grabs it (his hand smokes), throws it aside and attacks the bouncer.

Connie staked
Inside Connie is doing her song, when she notices that Todd is now a vampire. The song stops and she eventually changes it to a chant of “Kill the f*cking vampire” aimed at Burt (now in the club). Sid intervenes but Burt attacks him and then there is general mayhem, during which Todd turns Connie. When they get outside Connie is off the rails, attacking anyone who is close. Burt calls up a vampire hunter (Kenneth Hughes), who cleans up his messes for a price. The hunter quickly arrives and stakes Connie. Burt decides to take Todd to Candyland, a warehouse run by psychopathic artist and exotic drug dealer Clare (Sharon Ferguson, Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

planning vengeance
Eventually all sides will converge on Candyland, but let us look at the sides. There is Dwayne the bouncer, who hates Burt – but Burt tells him that if you kill the head vampire (him) all the other vampires die, plus a bevy of female vampires that Burt will create. Then there are the strippers from the club, Sid died as he was attacked so he didn’t turn and they all want revenge (and arrange a stripathon to raise the money to pay the Vampire Hunter to turn on Burt) and then there are the zombies.

Nick and Marty
Zombies? In a stroke of genius we get a pair of zombies called Marty (Clay Wilcox, True Blood) and Nick (Max Faugno) . These zombies can still speak but are getting stupider and their motor skills suck! They see Connie, dead and staked, and Nick wants to kiss her – Marty explains that he is probably confused and wants to eat her brains. He does actually kiss her and the zombie ooze from his mouth turns her into a zombie also. Connie wants to eat Burt.

sneaking up on Burt
Lore-wise things are a tad loose. We have already touched on holy items being apotropaic, and Burt insinuating bisexuality as a vampire trait as well as the "kill the head vampire" rule (can Burt be trusted though?) We see vampires killed by their throats being cut (rather than beheaded, which just seemed odd) and through the stake. We get a lyric that tells us more, “Stab him in the heart, shoot him full of silver, shove garlic up his ass!” However the film is chaotic in parts and so loose lore is fine.

Burt, a lying, conniving s.o.b.
I really enjoyed this, the music was more in the rock opera arena though stylistically it moved around quite a bit. The revelation was Kevin Scott Richardson, who was fantastic as Burt. He was clearly having a great time and the character was brilliant. Forget angst filled vampires, Burt was an asshole, first and foremost. A lying, conniving s.o.b. who likes to overindulge in blood and chemicals. He really was fun to watch. Other highlights include a sex/love/lust song set in a scuzzy toilet and zombie Connie’s first attempt to eat brains.

The film nicely mashes horror (or gore at least), music and (most importantly) comedy together and I genuinely found this funny. All in all this gets a well-deserved 7 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Song of the Night – review

Director: Frank Amore

Release date: 2008

Contains spoilers

The deeper you look into the vampire genre then the more unusual offerings you are going to find. La Canzone Della Notte, as it is called ion the original Italian, is right out there in the unusual stakes.

I tried to research the film before writing and it is not easy. There is no IMDb page but from what I can gather Director and star Frank Amore (the cast and crew on Amazon’s video page are wrong at the time of writing the article) featured on Italia’s Got Talent, on which he used (as he also does in this film) the gimmick of wearing gowns when performing.

Frank performing
This vehicle is, I guess, a vanity vehicle for Frank, who plays a character called Frank. At the start of the film we get some low resolution footage around and about Rome and a radio where the heat is mentioned as is an earthquake in Asia. We see Frank performing a song and this is pretty much a musical with the songs communicating aspects of the plot. Watching him, from a vantage point on stage, is Sara (Lucia Piedimonte). When he finishes she dances (and some stripping is involved – burlesque style).

telling fortunes
As this occurs the club owner Mr Altaj (Giorgio Filonzi) goes through the crowd gathering cards from the audience. The second part of Frank’s act is as a clairvoyant (and I assume these are questions to him). When all is done, Sara comes for her fortune (carrying a picture of a man). Frank warns her of him and has her stay overnight on a cot bed. As for Frank he goes out and sings a song to Selene, the moon. However, the next day she goes to meet the guy – who has her “catwalk” on the street. She panics and runs from him and Frank shows up and throttles the guy (not terminally). The inference is that she was going to end up as a human trafficking victim.

Altaj killed
Frank talks to Mr Altaj. He often sees bad things for people (such as terminal illness) but doesn’t tell them as it might upset them. Altaj tells him that he has saved a person today (Sara). Apparently Altaj found Frank wandering around the ruins of Foro Romano. Frank has no memory before that (Altaj suggests, half-jokingly we suspect, that he came from the stones). In the morning Altaj is found dead with his throat ripped open. We jump forward to the wake, the cops are there and so is Altaj’s niece and heir Alana (Yassmin Pucci). For some reason (given we hear that Altaj is from a far-away land and later establish it to be somewhere in Asia) she speaks English rather than Italian (later she masters the Italian language in short order).

Frank bitten
The cops in this aren’t too bright as, when Frank is subsequently attacked and found dying in his own blood, they suspect a self-inflicted wound, perpetrated in an imagined remorse for attacking Altaj! They never seriously pursue this however. Frank survives but can feel a darkness inside him that has robbed him of his clairvoyance. He becomes intolerant of the sun and is, of course, turning. What will he do? What will happen to Sara and Alana (and is Sara right to be jealous of the new club owner)? Who is the vampire?

the vampire
I’m not going to say but will screenshot the vampire as I was a little confused by the design. Clearly playing a demonic influence (or an alien from Star Trek) the vampire has a maw of sharp teeth but also has spines across his brow and on his chin. They are sun and holy item intolerant and this one is 300 years old. Survivors turn, those victims who are killed do not seem to come back.

Yassmin Pucci as Alana
The story is loose and the narrative patchy for what is a very thin story. Part of this is down to using songs as a narrative tool but we can’t lay the blame for the patchiness solely there. Frank Amore is simply playing himself and there isn’t much in the way of stellar performances from the rest of the cast – however, in the main they give what they can to the film and dialogue. The cops, I guess, where kind of comic relief but not that comedic. The music (as this is a feature) is kind of musical meets torch song – if you like that sort of thing.

3.5 out of 10 but carrying the caveat that it is on the unusual end of the vampire movie scale. At the time this article was written there was no IMDb page.