Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Cinema File #58: "A Vampire's Tale (AKA: Umbrage - The First Vampire)" Review

Not since Beyond ReAnimator have I been able to say the following sentence: The best thing about this straight to DVD horror movie is a severed penis.

I can't really talk about it in specifics right now, but I just recently finished collaborating on a screenplay. I bring it up because I just spent three months or so working very hard to craft a narrative that made some kind of sense, juggling multiple characters around, making sure they all had some sort of arc and resolution, and that they were all ultimately necessary to the story. It was hard work, but it was rewarding, and the result is a possible movie that with a lot of luck may someday get made. Knowing that I could have shat out something like A Vampire's Tale in a few hours and had a straight to DVD film career makes that effort feel like a waste. Thank you movie, you've made me hate myself.

It's rare that I am actually struck dumbfounded by the shittiness of a movie. Arachnoquake came close, but even that was to be expected considering the source of the production, and as much as The Odd Life of Timothy Green made me wonder how anyone would think that movie was a good idea, mostly it just made me angry for having watched it. A Vampire's Tale is...well, I don't know what it is. Branded had a Cow God made of stars and and Max Von Sydow disappearing via lightening, and even that made more sense than any of this garbage.

There is a story, to a certain extent, just not one that goes anywhere or comes together into anything, even as everyone in the movie seems to think there was a point and a resolution. We start with a dysfunctional family moving to a new home, and some campers in the woods, who come together when they are attacked in the night by living shadows, or maybe a vampire lady, or maybe the devil. I have no idea. Before that, we see the villainess of the movie turn a cowboy into a vampire, but then we learn that she's Lilith from the bible, but also kind of like Eve, except Adam's a caveman rapist, and maybe she's still a vampire, but then she lives inside a black mirror portal to hell. And at some point the guy who plays Pinhead from Hellraiser gets his eyes poked out by an owl that I think the vampire demon lady either transforms into, or controls with her mind. Oy.

The Biblical Adam - Caveman Rapist

It seems almost academic to actually be pissed off at something so abstractly awful as this movie. It sounds like hyperbole, but now that I'm free of it, I am seriously wondering if the makers of A Vampire's Tale were making it this bad on purpose. There's a climactic fight scene in this movie between the vampire cowboy and the vampiress that turned him that is so poorly choreographed, it almost has to be some form of parody or absurdest humor. And then the next time the two characters meet, he has sex with her standing up in Hell, and then impales her on one of Adams ribs sticking out of the wall, that he stole from the Vatican, that he also made bullets out of in case the rib itself didn't work, which it didn't the first time, but somehow did the second time. Okay, I've gotta stop doing that.

For the first hour of A Vampire's Tale, there are no vampires outside of the teaser. When we finally get him, God help me do I want to go back to the part of the movie where we didn't have any vampires. This Irish fucknozzle can't say one line without cracking what he seems to think are jokes, but don't ever come anywhere close to the vicinity of funny. He has this running dialogue with the bratty teenage daughter of the family that provides most of what I'm going to call exposition for the sake of clarity, and it is just painfully annoying. The movie wants to set this guy up as a mysterious anti-hero on a mission for revenge, but he just comes off as a douche bag. And I swear to God, I think they actually called him Lone Wolf at some point, not as a description, but like its his actual name. Hirokin had more sensible characterization than this.

I picked up this movie for two reasons. One, the guy from Hellraiser was in it, and two, it looked like it was going to be about Vampires in the Old West. I recently pitched a movie on this very blog incorporating that premise, and I anticipated at least some good to come out of that setting. Sorry, no. Not a western. The guys a cowboy, but there's no reason for him to be. It's set in the present, and his being from the Old West has no bearing on anything. Nothing in this movie has any bearing on anything. None of the characters matter generally or specifically, the way the story is told is just a mish mash of horror tropes seemingly pulled randomly out of a hat and placed in no particular order, and no rules are established for how any of this works. Doug Bradley does his level best to bring some gravitas to the material, but it is to no avail.

Oh yeah, and about that penis thing? One of the guys gets taken into the woods by the vampire lady on the pretense of having sex. We next find his lower face ripped off, and his penis bitten off and thrown on the ground, suggesting lethal foreplay. We of course assume the woman did this, though none of the characters do, and she blames it on the cowboy, essentially leading all of them to believe that there is a murderous redneck out there who kills via violent blow jobs.

Severed penis. Because you demanded it.

Much like Breaking Wind, I paradoxically recommend that you see this movie if you get a chance. It's so unique in its terribleness that it is unlike anything I have ever seen before. Watching the inexplicable transition from pointless scene to pointless scene, going on and on long past the point of necessity even as no story starts, let alone ends, it feels like Uwe Boll putting on his best David Lynch impression to make Blood Rayne 4: The Ass-ening. This is a thing that needs to be seen to be believed. If Timothy Green can have leaves on his ankles, we can make a pencil out of leaves, and A Vampire's Tale can make some sort of twisted logical sense.

Or maybe it's just really horrible. Yeah, probably that.

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