Niki’s Crap DVD Clearout Review Extravaganza! part 15
About ten years ago I bought a DVD player from the Blockbuster in Finchley. It cost me £200. I could have got a much better one for that sort of money but you see this one came with 50 free movies! Bargain!
Well the DVD player is long gone but the movies remain for two reasons, firstly and ironically the cheap double sided discs would not play properly in the cheap DVD player they came free with and secondly, despite starring such luminaries as Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe they are uniformly awful. Seriously, the biggest film of the bunch is The Lawnmower Man!
As the years have rolled by they have sat on my shelf in the ‘I’ll get round to them some day’ pile and what better reason to get stuck into them than to inflict my reviews on you gentle people.
As well as a review I shall be giving them a mark out of five which will not only be an indication of quality but a prediction of their very immediate future:
***** Might actually keep
**** Attempt to sell on Ebay
*** Straight to the nearest charity shop
** Straight to the nearest bin
* Will give away as a gift to anyone who makes me listen to Coldplay
So here goes…
James Bond III
We open on a libidinous bar tender casually telling an unseen conquest at the other end of the phone that he will pay for her abortion. This bastion of chivalry then shifts his attentions to a seductive woman who has entered the bar and within minutes they are back at her place doing the nasty. Karma’s a bitch however as she turns out to be an evil, vampire succubus who eviscerates him and drinks his blood. Women huh? Right guys?
Focus shifts to a young man called Joel who is being haunted by dreams involving his preacher father and a mysterious figure in black. His father is played by Samuel L. Jackson! Yes! Maybe this film is going to be OK after all. It turns out he’s dead, and, aside from a very short scene at the end, this is the only time he appears. DAMN YOU MOVIE!
Joel is training to follow in his father’s footsteps (to be a preacher, not dead) but is suffering a crisis of conscience so goes to spend some time with his black sheep brother ‘K’ in New York. K takes his brother to the bar from the beginning of the film and wouldn’t ya know it, they run afoul of miss bloodsucker, who slowly tempts Joel away from his brother and his beliefs. Apparently Joel is last in the line of something, I’m afraid this is as much as I can elucidate as it’s never properly explained. All we do know is that the sanguine queen needs him dead. As we’ve seen from her previous handy work, she’s not a gal to mess around when it comes to killing, which makes it all the more odd when she proceeds to take Joel on several coffee dates and even gets him alone on more than one occasion. Perhaps this is vampire foreplay.
K teams up with an undercover cop (Bill Nun of Spiderman fame) and attempts to save his brother from the clutches of this nocturnal harridan. They both do spectacularly badly however, as one is killed and the other turned into a vampire. In a weird, dreamlike ending that makes very little sense, Joel manages to kill the vampire and save his soul with a little help from his dead father and his mother who is about 600 miles away in a different state (I told you it made no sense).
It may look like I’ve been lazy with the old plot summary but for a 95 minute film there’s actually very little plot. If you remove the weird dream sequences and gratuitous vampire lovin’ then there’s barely a skeleton to hang a story on. Vampire seduces men to their deaths, one of them fights back. End.
It all comes across as an attempt to make a cool, African American version of Fright Night (or perhaps more appropriately Fright Night 2). However unlike those movies, the attempts at comedic moments just jar awkwardly with the horror. Also the clearly minuscule budget makes every scene look very much like it was shot in a studio (which they clearly were), mist and coloured lights are used to disguise the edges of the scene which makes it hard to feel like any of it is grounded in reality.
Dodgy editing also makes the film hard to follow at times. Scenes jar into each other, sometimes at random. The filmmakers must have been aware of this to some extent because on a couple of occasions a cue card would appear stating ‘The Next Day’ or ‘Later That Night’ to show the passing of time.
It is also so unbelievably ‘of its time’. Released in 1990, everything from the fashion, to the music, to the awful pun in the title screams ‘late 80’s’. I was half expecting to see a comedy cameo from The Fat Boys.
That said, the acting is fairly solid. Jackson puts in a good turn in his brief appearance, prefacing his bible spouting turn as Jules in Pulp Fiction, and Bill Nun provides some comedy as the undercover cop pretending to be a hopeless romeo while scoping out the bar. Cynthia Bond has fun as they evil seductress even if her performance does come close to scenery chewing at times. The worst scenes sadly involve the brothers (one of whom is played by the director himself), not because of the acting but because each scene feels like it was improvised, badly. They mumble half conceived lines at each other in a directionless manner until the scene just peters out. This happens several times.
There are some effective scenes however. Some of the dream sequences are quite spooky and surreal and there’s at least one unique death where a guy is sucked into his own television which then spits out his guts and bones. However Cronenberg or Lynch this is not, and most of the time these scenes are either confusing or hilarious, or both (confarious?).
The director gets the last laugh though with his unintentionally hilarious dedication before the credits roll.