Tuesday, July 20, 2010

DVD Reviews: NOCTURNE (2007) and INBRED REDNECK VAMPIRES (2010)

Too true.
Look, folks, you know I like to give the movies I watch the benefit of the doubt. No matter how ineptly made, how crudely plotted, how bargain-basement the effects, I always try my damnedest to work with the filmmakers and find those little nuggets of inspiration, those small successes that may not redeem the entire work, but at least keeps it from being a total waste of time.

This is particularly true in indie movies. I mean, God bless the Indie Filmmaker, right? Without the resources of a major studio at their disposal, with just an idea and a dream, these cinematic warriors get out there and do their best to realize their visions. They don't let the things they lack--money, time, equipment, often even basic movie-making talent--stand in their way. I respect that, I do. It's the Doctrine of the Glorious Failure the Duke and I lined out in or MMMMManifesto: to wit, it's better to aim for the stars and miss, than to aim for a pile of shit and hit it.

But if you go back and read the above-linked mission statement, you'll find another tenet of our philosophy that's just as important, the First Inviolable Commandment of the Church of Mad Movies, the one that must be upheld no matter what else goes wrong: THOU SHALT NOT BE BORING.

I think you can probably guess why I'm telling you this.

I recently received these two straight-to-DVD movies for review: A Nocturne: Night of the Vampire (2007) from Troma DVD, and Inbred Redneck Vampires (2010) from MVD Entertainment. The films share a few things in common. Both are indie films--so indie, in fact, that I was unable to find either of them on imdb.com. Both are about vampires. Both look like they were made on consumer video equipment, whether they actually were or not. Both break the Cardinal Rule of Mad Movie enjoyment. And neither should be watched by you.

Let's get through this as quickly as possible, shall we?

A Nocturne caught my attention because the back cover sported some glowing pull-quotes on the back cover, comparing the flick's visual tapestry to that of Vicar-fave director Jean Rollin and similarly vamp-obsessed reprobate Jess Franco. Near as I can figure, the only reason for the Rollin comparison is that the movie is about vampires, and at one point there's a woman in it who speaks French. Otherwise--not so much.

The movie is about a male/female vampire couple, "X" and "Y" (seriously), who have been alive for hundreds of years and are SO VERY BORED. They communicate this boredom to the viewer by staring off into space, not saying very much, and walking around in a blank-faced daze for fully 2/3 of the movie. There's an old man who I think is a priest but is certainly a cannibal, who indulges in long nonsensical wannabe "poetic" soliloquies about his dead wife, which you can barely hear over the pervasive microphone hiss. Every now and then the vamps kidnap someone we've never seen before, who obviously wanders in just to be bitten, and bite them. There are a couple of Nietzsche quotes, and the aforementoned French woman who comes in for an info-dump monologue that doesn't really explain much, and what it does explain is stupid. At the end, somebody else we've never seen before shows up out of nowhere and kills one of the vamps. Fin.

Really, that's IT. There's no character development, no plot to speak of, and nothing much happens. At least in Rollin, even when characters went for 40 minutes without a line of dialogue, SHIT WAS HAPPENING. Mad shit. Here--no.

But as I said up above, I really like to work with movies to see if I can find something good. So here are the good things about Nocturne:

  • There's periodic nudity, pretty good, usually with blood.
  • The crazy old cannibal, while never making sense, is clearly totally committed to his role, to an almost admirable degree.
  • The aforementioned French actress seemed to actually know her way around a line of dialogue, and was by far the best actor in the movie.
  • The movie really succeeds in making you feel the boredom of its protagonists, by making you feel like you've been just that bored for 400 years.
  • It helped me determine that the fast-forward button on my remote was in top working order.
Moving on...

Inbred Redneck Vampires is just what it sounds like, but worse. Here's the company synopsis, straight from MVD Entertainment's website:
Sexy vampire Catherine and her familiar Lendel are on the run from a ruthless vampire hunter. They hide out in the small redneck town of Backwash, where Catherine hatches a plan to turn the backwoods folk into an army of her vampire slaves. Cultures further clash when Ma Poissier wins a free room redecoration by fruity Frenchman Jean-Claude Les Eaux, who tries his best to fit in with crazy hillbillies like Lil' Junior and his buddy Cletus. Beer drinking, bean eating, tripe cooking, shower peeping, competitive farting, strip poker playing and all manner of insanity follow, all leading up to the town's annual Tripe Days Festival.
Hoo, boy.

It's a maxim by now that of all the "bad movie" categories, the worst of the worst is "bad comedy." Think of it--with any other genre, be it Bad Horror, Bad Scifi, Bad Action, or Bad Drama--you can at least laugh at the ridiculousness of it, or chortle affectionately about the filmmaker's wrong-headed but right-hearted attempts. Bad Comedy, however, removes that possibility of enjoyment. If a comedy makes you laugh, it's not bad--it's GOOD. Therefore, a bad comedy is by definition one you CANNOT laugh at.

Inbred Redneck Vampires is a very, very bad comedy. The "shower peeping" (in which the peepers fail to notice when a sexy trailer park woman switches out with her hairy boyfriend--hilarious?) and "competitive farting" scenes (this latter goes on for a good 5-10 minutes, and is just three guys at a table eating beans and farting on each other--laffin' yet?) alone make Mama Dracula look like Lust for a Vampire. The "redneck" humor is sub-sub-Hee Haw! levels. (Think about that: it's LESS FUNNY than HEE HAW.) I only chuckled once in the whole movie, and that was when a nude, obese, one-eyed woman stumbled backward to crush a vampire's head with her gigantic ass. Sue me, I was desperate for mirth.

With both the redneck and the vampire portions of the plot, the filmmakers never reach beyond the broadest, most obvious joke. That Frenchy, he talks funny! Hey, Cletus is a midget, and he always calls Frenchy "Peckerwood"! Somebody put cat shit in the tripe! The Frenchman thinks it's delicious! That vampire ate some garlic by mistake! Stop it, my sides!

But again, there's enough negativity in the world. Good things about the flick:
  • Again, there was some passable-to-decent nudity, and most of the redneck chicks were fairly hot, if you could get past their terribly overwrought country accents.
  • The "sexy vampire queen" did a pretty good impression of Teri Garr in Young Frankenstein. This was annoying at first, but by the end marked her as the best thespian in the flick.
  • There was a Rube Goldberg-esque vamp-staking that was borderline creative.
  • Umm...that's it.
We all love the Ideal of the indie filmmaker--someone outside the bounds of Hollywood, pursuing his or her unique vision and overcoming all obstacles to bring something personal and creative to life. And periodically that happens--but more often, it seems, we get uninspired, unsuccessful imitations of movies that weren't that good to begin with, made without a trace of the passion or drive required to make the results watchable.

Unfortunately, these two films are examples of this latter trend. While I can respect the work it must have taken for the filmmakers to get their work out there, and don't doubt they all had a good time seeing it through, I didn't enjoy watching them, not one little bit. I sincerely hope both find better projects in the future, and realize them more fully and entertainingly. But in these cases, I can only say this: no thumbs. AVOID.

These two deserve better.



6 comments:

Darius Whiteplume said...

That description for IRV sounded like every other crap Hillbilly Exploitation film I have ever heard of. Maybe they get high and watch a lot of Squidbillies?

True, being Indie is not a license to suck. More a license to try not to suck.

Ryne said...

Good to know. I saw these were coming out on DVD, and though they didn't look promising, it's nice to know that sometimes judging a film by its cover works.

JamiSings said...

Wow, I'm disappointed. I always liked to believe that even the worse movie could be, in the hands of a better writer and/or director, could be turned into something Oscar worthy. For instance, I firmly believe that if Dean Koontz was to rewrite Plan 9 From Outter Space and George Romero to direct, it could be a great movie. After all, the basic elements of the plot (aliens afraid of humanity's destructive tendencies will lead to everyone in the galaxy dying, so they turn our own fears upon us using zombies), are good. It was just handled badly.

However, reading your descriptions of these movies - it seems my faith that any bad movie can eventually be remade into something better has crumbled.

And it really sucks because I love vampires. (Not Twilight, VAMPIRES.)

The Vicar of VHS said...

@Darius -- You're right; IRV just totally fails to distinguish itself. It just feels like a lack of ambition, to me--they weren't trying for anything beyond "every other Hillbilly exploitation" etc. But hey, I'm sure somebody out there will find it hits their sweet spot. *shudder*

@Ryne -- I find judging a film by its cover is usually much more effective than, say, books. ;) At least where DTV indie horror is concerned, sadly.

@Jami -- I might argue with you on the Plan 9 idea: Ed Wood, for all his ineptitude, imo always displayed the one thing that was extremely lacking in these films: PASSION. He really put his heart into it, and I think you can see that onscreen if you're receptive to it. Sure, he wasn't GOOD: but he was always reaching for the stars, no matter how often he ended up with a handful of poo. ;)

(Note: I don't doubt the filmmakers here would describe themselves as passionate about their work, and may in fact be so--still, it doesn't come through on the screen for me. YMMV.)

Also, I'm not the world's biggest Koontz fan, I'm afraid.

The Duke of DVD said...

Wowee, Vicar. I'm shocked, I mean, from reading these descriptions, it at least sounds like these movies should be awesome. I mean, an obese, one-eyed woman crushing a vampire's head? The cover art for Nocturne looks like a thin Samuel L. Jackson leering at a distraught geisha. Wait, I just gave them the plot for their next movie!

It's unfortunate that these didn't live up to their obvious hype (I mean, with a title like Inbred Redneck Vampires, you would expect something of quality).

JamiSings said...

Well, Vicar, I only say Koontz for the re-write because it seems ever since he got hit by that car, Stephen King has lost his touch. I just can't find a book of his post-accident that is engaging. Dreamcatcher left me cold. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon seem rushed. His short stories read too much like the pretentious feminist crap my creative writing teacher used to shove down my throat.

So Koontz, being the only other suspense/horror writer alive I know of and like got it by default.

Passion is one thing, but I still think Plan Nine needs a better execution. Something - worthy of Wood. The ideas, the basics are actually very good and even Oscar worthy. In the right hands, one could make a Wood's creation something that people will turn to for inspiration rather then laughter. Something that would make sure the mythos of Ed Wood lives in something other then a Tim Burton movie.

And I just realized how sexual "Worthy of Wood" sounds. I should edit that out, but I won't.

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