Director: Jon Cunningham
Starring: Jason Carter, Garett Maggart, Jack Donner, Harrison Young, Jean St. James . USA. 1h 51m
Even if you’re going to make an indie/B-Movie, there’s no need to think small, this independent film is a good 2 hours long and just about manages to entertain for the entire time and is a decent run for first time director Jon Cunningham. Utilising the best from seasoned actor Jason Carter as his lead creature he tells a tale that plays with the idea of what a monster really is, leading to the wonderful tagline of…
Who is the monster, the undead creature of the night or the scientist experimenting on him?
After a police sting trying to capture a highly dangerous serial killer, a man is eventually apprehended and believed to be a madman known as the Count, however he’s whisked away by men in lab coats, never to be seen again, after killing the head doctor, a young talented doctor is thrown into the lion’s den and forced to work on the mysterious man, only to discover he’s an actual vampire.
Locked in a modern casket in a room exposed to the sun, the team begin their experiments on the Vampire, Simon Molinar (Carter) and at least in the early stages he’s fairly compliant. The young doctor, Joseph McKay (Maggart) is sympathetic to the Vampire and is the only person who tries to treat him as an equal, making sure he has clean clothes, allowing him time to heal between the barbaric experiments and attempting to fix old ailment like removing old musket shot from his shoulder, the pair strike up a friendship of some sort, learning from each other.
The older scientist in charge, also mourning the loss of his friend who was killed by the Vampire, Dr William Bassett (Donner) is more focused on getting results, in so far as pulling a prostitute to give the Vamp something to feed on. But slowly the experiment gets out of control.
The press is quite interesting, and I’d like to see it played out with a few more experimental techniques, all of what we know about vampires which would have cost the effects team money was quickly ignored, so vampires have reflections however we do learn a lot through the couple of experiment montages, so Vampires pee blood and have tongue activated fangs.
Jason Carter is probably better known for his work in Babylon 5, nevertheless he’s been very successful playing a vampire in a number of lower budget movies, with his classic dark goatee and piercing blue eyes I guess he just has that look. But his talent is matched by his co-star Garett Maggart who begins to have a terrible nightmare about being turned into a vamp when the guilt and pressures from burning and starving the night creature begins to play on his conscience.
Together the team all start having their own doubts about the experiments, and who wouldn’t spend their days breaking a vampire’s arm just to see how long it heals and which filters on direct sunlight reduce and maximise pain on the creature. While the film expands on Vampire lore it’s narrative is driven by the idea of forcing the viewer to look within and answer the question on who is wronger or righter in this situation? The “Monster” or scientists. Meanwhile a clever plan is being hatched in between the moralistic lines.
Generally I feel the movie easily could have been expanded if the budget permitted, and I believe it would have been pushed into spicing up the testing scenes, hopefully giving a better test for the effects of garlic, rather than having a guard eating an Italian meal and burping in the vamps face, although that did raise a giggle out of me.
It’s a surprisingly entertaining movie, something to get the Halloween spirits raised earlier in the day, and if b movies are your thing then it’s definitely worth a glance.
Related: Blade (1999),
Lists: A-Z of Vampire Cinema