Thursday, January 04, 2007

Slipping Through The Cracks

I had a different post planned for this week, but after watching a low budget vampire movie last night I changed my mind and decided to write about that. Every once in awhile my friends and I will choose a random, cheesy looking direct to video film and spend an evening tearing it apart in a generally good natured manner. As much as we may say the movie is crap, we usually like them and enjoy the movie on it's own. Sometimes we mock the things we love.

The movie this time was The Damned, a low budget, filmed in some guys back yard vampire movie by the directing/writing/producing team of Jose and Eduardo Quiroz. The main cheese factor in this one was the fact that Todd Bridges got top billing on the cover(despite an important-yet-small role). About five minutes in we almost turned it off. It was obviously filmed on video, with little to no lighting, and the vampire effects were laughably over the top. I can't imagine how any of the vampires actually got any sustenance out of their victims, so busy were they with the asinine hissing that accompanies most b-movie vampires, and wildly spreading as much blood as possible across their faces. Luckily we persevered, and were rewarded with not a good movie, but an adequate one.

We had plenty of laughs at it's expense, but in the end could hold nothing against the filmmakers. Sure the acting was worse than in some porno, the film was plagued with technical difficulties and lacked an all around sense of dread or actual horror. But neither was it completely inept or unwatchable, which puts it head and shoulders above most of the direct to video, no-budget, cast-my-friends movies I've seen. And I've seen quite a few.

The film concerns a trio of Latin roommates in Oakland who come to realize that their new neighbors are vampires. One of the roommates is an avid horror fan,as evidenced by the movies laying around his room and his constant watching of Night of the Living Dead(which, as we hear, is not really NOTLD). He is of course the first to realize the vampiric nature of the neighbors, and some of the best moments in the film come from him trying to convince his skeptic roommate(easily the best actor in the film). Todd Bridges eventually shows up with his brother in law as a man on the hunt for the vampires that killed his wife.

The strength of the movie lies in the characters all trying to determine how to kill the vampires when all of their information comes from books and movies, which turn out to be wildly inaccurate. There's really nothing new here, but it's still all around fairly solid. I mention this film in such depth because it's such a rarity to find decent direct to video films these days that I felt it noteworthy. I'll be honest with you, once I learned the Quiroz brothers had 10 films under their belts before this one, my opinion lowered just a little. I feel that by now in their career the technical problems evident in the Damned should have been overcome, but not having seen their earlier films I have no idea what the learning curve was.

I definitely won't recommend this to anyone whose horror experience tends towards the major releases we see these days. Your average Saw fan is not going to appreciate this at all. Instead, this is for anyone who longs for the mid to late 80's heyday of direct to video horror, or the works of Ed Wood or Mark Pirro. I make this comparison in terms of how the movie was made, not necessarily in terms of style or even quality. If you're not familiar with the works of either of those people, steer clear.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How would you know how bad the acting in porno is???How much have you REALLY watched..Being a lover of porn myself,we porn watchers tend to fast-forward any and all acting,unless it's in context with some deviant sexual act...AAAHHH porn..Gotta love it..