This week is horror film week on Trumpetville, and I figured I might as well get into the swing of things by resurrecting my battle royale between the horror films of the United States and the horror films produced by a motley assemblage of diverse countries collectively answering to the name Rest of the World (RoW for short), though the term ‘everybody else’ fits just as well.
Round Four of this titanic struggle for horror film supremacy ended on a 2 – 2 draw, but what will the state of play be in the wake of the two gorefests that are to follow?
Representing the United States we have:-
Night Fangs (2005)
So, naked lesbians and naked vampires, two vital elements for a trash classic. What could possibly go wrong? And the answer is, just about everything.
Guided by the example of Elizabeth Bathory, two lesbians hitch up with a guy via the internet and then bathe in his blood to become forever young. Things don’t pan out as they planned, but then they latch onto EB’s secret diary and learn that they should have been using virgin blood (obviously they missed the Hammer film), and so decide to give it another go. This time they lure into their web a young art student, only in the reality of this film when young female virgins have their throats slit and are bled out into a bath filled with warm water, they turn into vampires, and promptly start biting everybody else, though whether the people bitten also turn into vampires or are simply eaten alive is never clearly determined (I think it might depend on how important they are to the plot, or maybe they decided by tossing a coin). It’s up to assorted boyfriends and a college professor with an Eastern European name (ergo, he knows about this sort of stuff) to sort things out with wooden stakes, or maybe themselves end up as fodder for the vampires. By the end I was beyond caring.
On the front of the DVD case it says ‘If you think you’ve seen horror… think again’ and on the back ‘the goriest and the most horrifying vampire movie ever…’ Hard claims to live up to, and Night Fangs didn’t. Initially it’s a very stupid film, the shoestring budget obvious in every shot, the actors mailing their performances in, the characters cliched, the plot ridiculous, and the whole undercut by a half hearted attempt at eroticism, with the fact that the women involved were not bad looking the only redeeming feature. And then the gore factor got cranked up to the max and as well as stupid it became risibly vile, with rival vampires eating each other alive, and I guess stomach churning in places, unless you look closely and notice that the nipple being bitten off is probably a jelly baby. With the possible exception of Shower of Blood, this could well be the worst vampire movie I have ever watched.
To beat Night Fangs the opposition didn’t need to do much more than show up, and showing up for the Rest of the World was:-
The Devil’s Rock (2011)
This UK/New Zealand co-production was based on a Paul Finch story and he had some of the scripting chores. It’s set during World War Two, with two commandos sent to blow up the big gun on a German held Channel Island ahead of D-Day. Only they discover most of the Germans horrifically slain, and it appears that there is a demon being held prisoner inside the Nazi bunker fortress. When it gets loose the brave commando has to join forces with a vile SS officer to save the world from dark forces, but is the Nazi to be trusted?
Basically, this is the ‘high concept’ behind Hellboy played as straight horror instead of comic book adventure, and using a low budget to its advantage by introducing a psychological element. Within the cloistered and claustrophobic confines of the Nazi base the commando, the SS officer and the demon each battle to forward their own agenda, with words and trickery used in lieu of splatter effects, though there are a good few of those too, and done effectively, at least compared to the naff sfx in Night Fangs. The two human leads are compellingly realised, with the Nazi more rounded than the usual goosestepping fuckwit, given a reason for acting in the terrible way he does, a kind of patriotism, even if it is twisted horribly out of true. Contrarily, the commando is an ordinary bloke, eschewing intellectual conundrums but knowing right from wrong, caring about his mates and the woman he loves. The demon is a mistress of lies, appearing as the commando’s dead beloved on occasion to tempt him to help her, but in her true guise like nothing so much as the female version of Tim Curry’s Lord of Darkness in Legend. Overall it was entertaining enough, made with a bit of intelligence and some heart, but not a horror classic and not something I’ll rush to watch again, simply a decent way to pass the time if you’re a horror lover.
Okay, I am going to declare the Rest of the World the winner of this round, even if it was mainly down to own goals.
So what’s the worst vampire movie any of you guys have watched?