Saturday, January 16, 2010

Daybreakers - 2009 – Dir: Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig
Location: Regal Galaxy 10

I know most everyone out there, horror fans or not, are sick to death of vampires. They are all over the place. While they are not my favorite horrific creature I do like them so I’m sad to see so many teenage girls going goo-goo over these sparkly daytime walking vampires who just whine like emos. Whatever happened to vampires who sink their teeth into the jugular and kill people? The Spierig Brothers decided to try and answer that with their newest film.

In Daybreakers we are now in the year 2019. The world is overrun with vampires and only about five percent of the human population remains in hiding. Military are sent out in search of humans because their blood is becoming increasingly rare. When they are captured they are brought to an evil corporation run by Sam Neil where they farm the blood from them like milk from cows. Ethan Hawke is a hematologist working for said company trying to come up with a substitute, because lack of blood turns the vampires into a sort of primal bat-like state and they will kill anything.

That’s about all of the plot I want to give away without any kind of spoilers. I really wanted to love this movie. I was one of the few people to love the brothers’ last, and only other, film Undead and with all they accomplished on practically no budget I figured they would do great things here. At times they did, but I rolled my eyes about dozen too many times. There are so many plot holes and just common sense problems that it makes no sense. For all the intelligence the vamps show not one person mentioned breeding the humans? That is the easiest solution to their problem and they already have them captured. All they have to do is build some test tube babies and plant them in some women and then they could grow their own blood. Either that or call the Japanese guys who created the bottled True Blood, heh.

I’m not a big fan of Hawke and he did not convert me here. Willem Defoe is a great actor and he was just completely wasted here, mainly by really lame dialog. I understand if he was supposed to be a sort of comic relief but they have him spewing cheesy one-liners every few minutes. It gets old real fast. A review I heard sad they should have put Defoe in the Sam Neil role and I completely agree.

I do love the vampire run world. Quick glimpses at school zone signs in effect from 2am -3am is great as is the daytime driving mode on cars. If they would have spent more time on seeing this world in everyday running I would have been much more interested. Some of the FX were great and they don’t skimp on the gore or violence which I was happy to see. It’s just not enough. Unfortunately, though I loved certain ideas, it was an overall “meh” for me. Wait for DVD.

Count Dracula - 1970 - Dir: Jess Franco
Location: The Comfort of My House

I wanted to find something to bridge the gap between the two theatrical films of the day. Just finished a vampire flick and was going to a blaxploitation throwback, the obvious choice is Blacula but, alas, I don't have that one (this will be remedied). Then I thought I could either watch some blaxploitation or a vampire film. While trying to decide it hit me to watch a vampire movie from the 70s. This would qualify since Black Dynamite is made in the vein for 70s cinema. On my "to watch" shelf was this Jess Franco gem from 1970 and it was the only one I could find. I could swear I had Dracula A.D. 1972, but I guess I was wrong.

This film takes the usual Bram Stoker tale and the plot does not really waver from that line. The good things about this version are those involved. Christopher Lee as the Count is always a pleasure and Herbert Lom (Clouseau's boss Chief Dreyfus in The Pink Panther films) makes a wonderful Van Helsing. But stealing the show in the role of Renfield is Klaus Kinski, who would go on to play the titular role in Werner Herzog's Nosferatu the Vampyre nine years later. Overall the film does have some problems but it with its level of faithfulness to the source material, great acting and one of the creepiest taxidermied animal sequences I would recommend it to fans of the Count. Those who know of Franco should note this has no sex and nudity, so don't expect it just because it has his named attached. PIck up Dark Sky Film's DVD release here.

Black Dynamite - 2009 – Dir: Scott Sanders
Location: Inwood Theater – Midnight Madness

Hell yes! This is a film I’ve heard about for quite some time and was happy to see we were getting a midnight theatrical screening a few weeks before the DVD release. The plot is easy enough Black Dynamite’s younger brother is murdered and now he must get to the bottom of the smack dealers to clean up the streets. All of this is done in the vein of 70s Blaxploitation films and done very well. Just watch the red band trailer here (I tried to embed but for some reason it wasn't working).

Like I should even need to say anything else after you have seen that. This was absolutely amazing! People think it is really easy to create an intentionally cheesy flick, but it’s much harder than it looks. I’ve watched a ton of recent films which try their hand at this type of thing and fail miserably. Luckily for us, this movie gets it right in every respect. At times I completely forgot I was watching a recently made film. The look, feel and sounds are straight out of the 70s low budget fare we genre film geeks love. The theater was packed and everyone was laughing hysterically throughout the entire film.

Michael Jai White plays Black Dynamite and he is a bad mother. But he’s not the only great actor in the film, and by great I mean awful on purpose. There are some great supporting roles played by Tommy Davidson, Arsenio Hall, Miguel Núñez (Return of the Living Dead), Brian McKnight and many others. White also wrote the screenplay along with Sanders and Byron Minns who plays Bullhorn, BD’s always rhyming friend (no doubt an homage to Rudy Ray Moore).

Even the look of the film is perfect. They don’t really go overboard with film grain or distortion but when you look at it you wouldn’t guess it was filmed in present day. I hope when I get the DVD they have a lot of info on making this film.

Out of the three films I saw on this day (the other two being posted above this) Black Dynamite is definitely my favorite. The movie by itself is greatness but the fun shared with the rest of the crowd and seeing it on the big screen add to my newfound infatuation. Even the last fifteen minutes that go into a whole new direction of insanity are great. I would say more, but you really need to experience it for yourself to truly appreciate and understand. There is plenty of nudity, action, jive talkin’ and kung-fu to satiate everyone. Pre-order, release date February 16th, the Blu-Ray here, or the DVD here, you dig?


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