I’d never heard of Jean Rollin before, so when this documentary about his life and work turned up I was rather excited to give it a go. As usual I had my notepad out, ready to jot down the odd movie that would be worth a look, but by halfway through I just assumed it safer to work through his filmography. I appreciate that a lot of effort when into making this a valid and informative collection of anecdotes and titbits for long-time fans, but I’m quite sure directors Dima Ballin and Kat Ellinger are going to take my uneducated reaction as a win.
Tag Archives: vampires
Bats (2021) is, against all odds, enjoyable nonsense
Chekov said “The role of the artist is to ask questions, not answer them” so Scott Jeffery (writer and co-director) has produced some of the purest art available because I can’t think of a single one of the 83 minutes of this movie in which I wasn’t going “what the fuck?” at the screen.
On paper, this film is a very good idea. It’s a blend of the classic genres of the 80s: sexy teen comedy and sexy vampires. It’s also got the amazing Grace Jones, who adds a touch of sexy and terror to any movie she’s in. Throw in some strippers, a few curious-looking street punks (including a top-notch appearance by Billy Drago), and what do you have?
The Howling VI: The Freaks (1991)
It was bound to happen; we’ve made it to the 90s! So, obviously, it’s time for a story set in what feels like a 70s backwater town, somewhere in the midsts of rural Americana. This particular story of werewolf shenanigans has everything you would expect from the kind of cod-gothic the era became renowned for; overacting, excessive self-importance, and men in incredibly frilly shirts. But there is still fun to be had, as we enter the world of The Freaks.
Blood Red Sky (2021)
The trailer for this film makes it look like an interesting twist on the “special agent on a hijacked plane” school of action movies. Specifically asking the questions “what if the special agent’s child was also on board?” and “what if the special agent was a vampire?”. Whilst I’m sure writer and director Peter Thorwarth could have done that well, I’m just happy he ended up asking enough further questions to justify gluing three movies worth of concept together.
The Girl With The Hungry Eyes (1995)
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.
I Bought A Vampire Motorcycle (1990)
Sometimes you really can judge a movie by its cover, and I Bought A Vampire Motorcycle is everything that you can expect from such a high-concept title. It’s a campy horror-comedy about someone buying a motorcycle, finding out that it’s a vampire, and then dealing with the fallout from that. It’s got blood, it’s got gore, it’s got actors that any British audience of the time would have recognised as “oooh, it’s them off of the telly!” and it’s got Anthony Daniels to make the rest of the world go “oooh, it’s them off of Star Wars!”. If you want something serious, either in concept or delivery, then you only have yourself to blame for your disappointment, and if you want to spend 101 minutes really ugly-laughing at a film then read on.
Vampires vs. the Bronx (2020)
Due to the hole in the market left by broadcast media no longer running Halloween horror marathons, over the last couple of years Netflix has regularly dropped spooky movies under its Originals brand at the start of October. It started around 2016 with I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, a well-received, high-brow gothic horror. Since then, their annual offering has switched between high-brow (Apostle) and gory-camp (The Babysitter), but has constantly focused on the adult audiences. This year, with Osmany Rodriguez as writer and director, they have brought us something a lot more family-friendly in the shape of Vampires vs. the Bronx.
Here’s a question: what do you get if you cross vampires with sci-fi? Well, normally you get a disastrous bit of trash, like the awful Ultraviolet, or the “mostly remembered for the nudie scenes” Lifeforce. It’s probably because vampires are all about being spooky, mysterious, and asking “would you like a shag?” in assorted gothic ways, whilst sci-fi is more about ideas, explaining things, and answering questions that don’t need all your clothes taken off to answer. Still, if anyone was going to have a crack at making a good one, then Michael and Peter Spierig probably had the best chance with 2009’s Daybreakers. They had previously managed to mix zombies and aliens up to the delight of the lumbering dead fandom with 2003’s Undead, and that was in the middle of the zombie revival. Plus they were working in Australia, so they were cheap. Throw in Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, and Sam Neil, and you’ve got a film that could have been a contender!
Plan 9 From Outer Space (1957) – Revisiting the infamous classic
In the world of cult movies, especially that part devoted to the concept of “Worst Movie Ever!”, 1956, very independently produced, sci-fi horror Plan 9 from Outer Space looms disproportionately large. The film, made by the notoriously ambitious, devoted, and talentless Ed Wood, was considered lacking in the merit of any sort from the moment it was first screened to potential investors as “Grave Robbers From Outer Space” (the name changed because the two Baptist ministers, who backed the film as an effort to help spread the message of Jesus, thought it was too sacrilegious), and then rapidly went from a cheap half for double-features to even cheaper late-night TV time filler. Selecting a single reason for its failing to be taken seriously is difficult, as almost every element of the cinematic process is handled with the grace of a three year old making potato art when they are four orange squashes into a tartrazine bender, but none of that gets away from the fact that it is, no matter how you cut it, a highly endearing film.