FEBRUARY 20, 2010
When I was like 15 or 16 I got a copy of John Stanley's "Creature Features" and pretty much read it cover to cover, making a list of all of the movies that sounded worth checking out. The list is long gone, but I'm sure if I found it, I would be able to check many titles off thanks to HMAD. One title that probably was not on the list, however, was Nightmare In Blood, which Stanley himself wrote and directed. Oddly, his 3 star (out of 5) review of the film doesn't mention this little factoid, even when pointing out Stanley's (i.e. his own) role on the film. Maybe he doesn't have a sense of humor; rest assured, if I ever make a film, I will say "I made this movie!" and then proceed to tear it apart.
He also tiptoes around the fact that the movie is a crushing bore. Apart from the hilariously dated outfits and slang, there is almost zero pure entertainment value in the film, which is a shame as the plot - vampires hide out in a theater hosting a horror convention - should lend itself to both fan-ready humor (think the recent, underrated Fanboys) and, well, some goddamn vampire action. But no! The bulk of the kills have nothing to do with vampirism, and don't let the term "bulk" fool you - you can count the bodies on one hand (well, actually there's six, so you can count them all on one hand if you're the guy from Princess Bride).
And the con is weak. No one's in costume, except for a guy in a Planet of the Apes mask, and there don't seem to be any dealers or anything. In fact, all we see is the theater, and the main vampire (Malakai, who's this sort of Christopher Lee/Vincent Price-esque horror star) sign a few autographs. There's a Jesus-y comic book store owner who is supposed to decorate, but I'll be damned if he ever actually puts anything up worth noting. Christ, the Paranoia Film Festival on the Queen Mary had more shit going on.
I also just never found any of it particularly engaging. The movie as a whole has this laid-back, nearly improvised feel, and as such the characters (of which there are way too many - as if it was setting up red herrings for a slasher film) never become very well drawn or compelling. And it's a shame, because the IDEA of most of the characters is intriguing, as is the idea of putting them all together in one story. You have the centuries-old vampire, who, amongst other things, worked in Nazi death camps; the various horror promoters and enthusiasts (my people!), 19th century grave robbers Burke and Hare, etc. But they simply never do anything interesting. Every now and then things pick up a bit, such as when a horror-hatin' pundit faces off against the con promoter on a talk show, but these moments are few and far between.
The concept is ripe for a remake. Dive into the horror fan community, go all out with the vampires (they only need six bodies - doesn't mean they can't kill a few for fun, right? Or maybe they need 23 bodies this time?), present an actual convention instead of just saying you're at one, and do the Fanboys thing where you're both mocking and embracing all facets of fandom, and I think there could be a really kick ass movie.
I should note that based on his reviews, Stanley and I do not see eye to eye, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised I'm not a big fan of his movie. Apart from certain classics (Psycho for example), I think he shortchanges many great films and over-praises others. He goes to 5 stars, yet Halloween only gets 4 (and Halloween 5 gets 3.5!), and Dawn of the Dead gets a mere 3. But fucking Casper gets 4 stars? You have a book called CREATURE FEATURES and you're going to tell people that Casper is a better movie than Dawn of the fucking Dead? He also seemingly has no tolerance for the type of offbeat or popcorn junk-y I love, with 1 or 2 stars for movies like Shocker, Alien Prey, Silent Night Deadly Night (of the whole series, 3 is actually his favorite - go figure), etc. A pitiful ONE STAR for the Mystery Science Theater 3000 movie, and three for this, the sort of movie they would watch? SUSPECT. Oh, and he prefers Deep Impact to Armageddon. Come on, man, even Leder/Spielberg would agree Bay/The Bruck kicked their asses on that one.
What say you?