MAY 23, 2010
You know, there’s probably a reason why I’ve never heard of the majority of the horror films I’ve been recording from cable for HMAD purposes - such as the fact that they’re all dull and forgettable. These movies are so generic that they don't even pop up on Blockbuster shelves or instant viewing on Netflix, as if they exist solely to air on cable at 2 AM. Desert Of Blood is a typical example, offering 90 minutes of poorly defined characters, next to zero action, and a plot so thin it would barely sustain a Tales From The Crypt episode. But it’s competently made and features some nice Mexican locales, so at least it’s not a total waste.
You know you’re in for a rough ride when the editor and director cut away from a vampire scene to show three girls sunbathing, as one of them goes into detail about how she achieves orgasm (it involves a photo of James Franco - I wonder if he’s aware of this). Who are these people? What do they have to do with the vampires? It’s at least another 20 minutes until we find out, so until that point we have to deal with them being cut to for no discernible reason (other than the fact that they’re cute), until we discover that one of them is sort of the heroine of the movie.
I say sort of because nothing actually happens in the movie that would require heroics. And that’s a shame, because the plot is actually sort of cool - a vampire named Diego who was buried alive finally gets free and seeks revenge on those who put him under, 30 years later. But there are very few people involved, and he takes care of all but one of them fairly early on, and the other is practically an invalid (and the aunt of Maricela, the heroine), so you know she’s fine. Diego has two lackeys, but they don’t do a hell of a lot, and their death scenes are pitifully weak. There are no stakes (heh, just realized my pun) to anything - they don’t even really bother developing a romance between the main girl and Diego or anything; they only have like one scene together before she finds out he’s a vampire, and the revelation doesn’t seem to affect her one way or the other. Lady, you’re our main character - if you don’t care why the fuck should we?
They also have her take her two friends along for the not-big showdown, which I thought was just a plot contrivance to get us two kills. But no! Nor does her would-be love interest sacrifice himself to save her or anything cool. In fact, pretty much every non vampire survives this movie, including one of the guys Diego was getting revenge on, who pops up in the final shot of the film, now a vampire himself.
For the most part the movie just plays like a soap opera: heavy with melodrama and characters icily confronting each other without actually doing anything. Diego can’t decide whether or not he’s a sardonic anti-hero or a lovesick fool, one minute he’s staring longingly at the girl through a keyhole (and burning himself in the process), the next he’s licking salt off his hand before biting into a victim (and then he bites a lime - vampire margarita) and making a bad joke. I spent most of the movie wondering if I was supposed to be rooting for him or not, before realizing I simply didn’t care.
At least the setting is unique. Not sure why everyone speaks English, but the villas and bars and such are a welcome change of pace from the usual Chatsworth and Santa Clarita landscapes I’ve seen a million times. I also liked the soundtrack, which was a mix of Spanish and English (some of which are performed by none other than actor Chris Mulkey) rock and pop. And the cast is good as well (Justin Quinn as Diego in particular is very charismatic, as is Brenda Romero as Maricela), but it’s all for a lackluster, borderline aimless script. I’ve never seen a film with so few complications in its narrative. Maybe more action was scripted before and they had to cut it for budgetary purposes, but it’s not the lack of action that kills the movie - it’s the complete, utter lack of anything exciting or interesting that does. It’s just THERE. Even a lot of the obviously planted reviews on the IMDb (all of which have some variation on “it’s not Anne Rice but it will do”) can’t even muster up a lot of enthusiasm; one guy with no other reviews to his name is just like “eh, it’s pretty good!” - you felt compelled to make an IMDb user account for a movie you just thought was all right? Try harder, fake movie reviewers. Or just go the fuck away.
OR just make a better movie, because if your movie was good it wouldn’t need fake reviews in the first place.
What say you?