AUGUST 13, 2007
Most of the recommendations I get for Horror Movie A Day are pretty standard… someone says “Oh I watched this awful movie, you should watch it.” And with that undeniably positive plug in mind, I queue it up. But the story of how Vampire Assassin was suggested to me is and probably will be the most hilariously sad tale of them all. Join me, won't you?
My buddy Devin Faraci, who writes for CHUD, recently moved to LA. And of all the furniture movers he could have hired to unpack his pod (you know, those giant fucking things you see taking up perfectly good parking spots all over the city), the one he got was none other than Ron Hall. Ron Hall is the writer, director, and star of Vampire Assassin, a film CHUD had negatively reviewed. Hall didn’t hold it against him (it wasn’t Devin’s review anyway) and apparently did a damn good job with the furniture. You can read the whole story here if you like; it's wonderfully depressing. Oddly, Mike from Blair Witch is also a furniture mover now. I imagine a future horror movie about furniture movers, all played by horror movie stars who are now actual furniture movers. And I imagine myself hating that film.
Anyway, for a furniture mover, Hall is a piss-poor director and an even worse actor. The camera barely moves, the film is ugly to look at, and apparently he knows nothing about color timing. And as an actor he's as wooden as the stakes that you never see actually hitting anything throughout the film. His script isn’t a total waste, though. Yeah, it’s generic, and he apparently doesn’t know the difference between zombies and vampires, but it’s serviceable enough for a DTV movie, despite the occasional nonsensical line like “Remember, and remember it well: DON’T FORGET what I’ve told you!”
But everything on-screen is just an abortion. Every single shot of the film looks like it was videotaped in someone’s house or a toilet paper warehouse, and that’s probably the least of its problems. There’s an Asian girl who is speaking English yet still sounds dubbed, cue-card delivery on “Arnold-style” one-liners that make them sound even dumber than they already are, the worst special effects I’ve seen since the heyday of Ed Wood, and just an overall feeling of “Oh I forgot we were filming tonight, quick, call your cousin and see if him and his friends will come play vampires” throughout the duration of the film.
Christ, even during the opening titles, there’s a frame or two of a “slug” left in there. For non-editing folks, a slug is a placeholder for an effect or shot you currently do not have. So right before the title, you see SLUG and some other text under it. Nice work. I tried to screen cap it but my PC’s DVD player doesn’t have slo-mo and I don’t have the patience to keep trying to pause it at the right frame. It’s there though (someone else saw it too so I’m not crazy).
As previously mentioned, Hall isn’t much of an actor, making Snipes (the obvious inspiration) look like Olivier, even in Blade: Trinity! So with the hero (who is not the guy on the cover, by the way) a total wash, who should the audience care about? My pick would be the wise old Asian guy, a character that your Keye Lukes, Makos, or John Lones would normally play. This guy is just some surly drunk, emphasizing words at random and generally just having a grand old time. I laughed every time he appeared (then again I laughed at pretty much everything in this movie – I let out three belly laughs before even the fucking “slug” appeared).
The main vampire heavy is a howler too. He’s sort of a Joe Estevez-y type who spends a full minute of the film waving his magic cape around in order to deflect After Effects bullets. What exactly his goal is, they never actually make clear, but I’m guessing it has something to do with ruling the world. No matter. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a supposedly threatening vampire lord throw his cape over a guy in order to subdue him, and afterwards, you wouldn’t want to.
Christ, even the goddamn props are laughable. We have some obviously plastic chains (which are merely just placed over the guy instead of wrapped around him), a set of torture knives that are just some random steak knives from any kitchen drawer, and box after box of paper towels and toilet paper. Why the police station and vampire home would have so many boxes of these things in their strikingly similar basements, I do not know, but that’s just part of the unparalleled ineptery that is Vampire Assassin.
At this point I expect nothing from Lion’s Gate (go to the Crap page and see how many are LG related), but this is a new low for them. They took what is little more than a home movie of some dudes pretending to fight each other in a toilet paper distribution center and had the audacity to charge 19.99 for it. It’s one thing for Ron Hall to make a movie and use it to show folks that he can (theoretically) make said movie for no money; it’s another thing for a legitimate company to actually distribute it with blatantly false advertising and ask people to pay for it. The movie doesn’t even look like it COST 19.99, why the fuck should anyone pay that much for the privilege of owning the goddamn thing???
And for the love of Mike, he’s not even a fucking assassin! No one pays Derek Washington (yes, his fucking real name is more badass than his “badass” character’s name) to hunt vampires; he does this shit for the hell of it! I’d blame LG for the stupid title (which varies from Assassin to Assassins, which makes even less sense) too but it’s actually a line in the movie.
So forget what I said earlier, the script is fucking stupid too.
What say you?