I’m going to keep this review short and to the point, mostly as the director/writer Jon Jacobs didn’t with the film. It was based on a late 50s Fritz Langer short story, and somewhere in it is the basis of a pretty decent entry into the mid-90s supernatural goth-horror canon. Unfortunately, that gets crowded out due to either a lack of narrative focus or a need to hit the promised run time.
Firstly though; the good stuff, because there are enough enthralling moments to keep you watching all the way through. Louise (Christina Fulton) is a 1920’s model and hotel owner who kills herself because of betrayal by her photographer fiancé. Cut to the 90s, and The Tides hotel is now in a state of disrepair so brings her back to life. If she brings it blood to nourish/renovate it then she gets to live forever inside its rather plush, art-deco walls.
Not only is a psychic-vampire in thrall to a hotel a pretty unique idea, but it’s also exceptionally well done and quite spooky. There are a lot of mobile, disorientating shots through the hotel, and of Louise in the building, with strange audio and half-heard lines to give it the feel of something unnatural and other. Fans of 90s indie music videos will love these bits. On top of that, Christina Fulton does an amazing performance (and a fair amount of work, as she’s credited “additional story and dialogue”) as the vampire. She manages to be lost, powerful, composed, and in thrall to her inner demons all at the same time. She’s easily the most complex character in the movie, but that isn’t saying much.
Whilst the sequences of her communicating/communing with the hotel are good, it’s her hunting on the streets of Miami which is the real show-stealer. Not only is there something joyful about her targeting highly abusive people, but the psychic link she has to them is used to devastating effect to both help her and to torment them. They all start as attempted assaults on her, and some people will find that distasteful, but it’s also good schadenfreude once their blood starts flowing and she appears to be having the time of her un-life.
The big connection between these two parts is the camera work, which is incredible. Everything is low light, perfectly framed, and just has the absolute apex feel of the pre-millennial sensual-horror stretch of cinema. Whilst it’s a low-tier movie, almost everything has the style and look of a high-budget music video. It’s also got a determination to use either blue or brown filter on everything, but you can forgive that choice.
What you will have trouble forgiving is the rest of the plot, as it’s a whole bunch of people you actively won’t like. First up is Carlos (Issac Turner), the most miserable photographer in history. We are introduced to him as he sulks about having to do a glamour shot with his beautiful and devoted girlfriend, and then we get to see him sulk after she wants to have crazy show sex with him. He then continues to sulk his way through the rest of the movie, hooking up with Louise despite them having no visible chemistry.
.Amazingly enough, he’s not the biggest arsehole we get to meet. There is a whole cadre of lowlifes and scumbags that he associates with (including the Mafia who control fashion brand advertising campaigns). All of these people are presented as selfish, grimy, and unlikable, which is not a great way to make people give a toss about them. The worse sin is that they are quite dull, and all the time focused on them is time you wish was spent on the interesting Louise. The pinnacle of this time-wasting is when Carlos asks a random person on the street what he thinks of a picture of Louise in a shop window, and we get a lengthy dissertation from the stranger on the art styles involved in the image we can hardly see.
Were it not for the frustrating amounts of time pissed away on scenes that add nothing and characters you don’t care about, this could have been a fantastic movie. But it’s clear that the editor wasn’t in charge of this production and that the cinematography team wanted a serious showreel. As said, you will keep watching because of some really interesting and intense moments, but they can’t help save the film from the Trash pile. There’s a 50-minute version of the same story done by Night Gallery, and that’s a lot better. Then again it cheated by having Rod Serling involved, and he knew you couldn’t pad out what wasn’t there in a short story with 30% film-school whimsy and a lot of art-house boob shots.
Final Score at the 22nd July watch party: Trash 5, Treasure 0 at The Super Fortress Discord
“It was funny in parts, pretty on parts, some of the acting was good, but mainly trash and very soggy!”
“it is a better vampire film than certain other films that will not be named. The Pacing was fine. the lighting and camera work overall was good but the writing let it down in the end ”
The Girl with the Hungry Eyes is available on Amazon Prime and in a variety of other places. So is the Night Gallery version, and it’s better.