MARCH 30, 2012
Well, if you’re going to crib a bit from Near Dark, I guess it’s OK if you have one of the movie’s stars along for the ride, right? Tim Thomerson plays the hero in Live Evil, an upgrade from his supporting turn in that classic, but that won’t be the only time you’re reminded of it. It’s also (partially) set in the southwest, giving the film a Western vibe (Carpenter’s Vampires may also come to mind), and our primary group of villainous vampires are a similarly punk-ish group of immortals that are kind of a family unit who are also prone to bickering. There’s even a big car chase – not the sort of thing you usually see in a vampire movie.
But it’s got enough of its own ideas to give the familiarity a pass. The coolest idea is that the vampires are dying off because human blood is too polluted thanks to our lifestyles; the film opens with a typical massacre as a crazed vamp chick devours everyone in a diner, only to puke it all up because their blood is too tainted to digest. They then set off to find a blood dealer (Ken Foree) who has pure plasma. Thomerson is on their trail, aided by a girl he saves from an attack, which allows for the veteran actor to have some fun and have a few scattered fights throughout the movie as he closes in on the main group.
The pacing is a definite asset – there’s a lot going on and plenty of action to enjoy, and it’s all done practically (sigh of relief); beheadings are common and there’s even a vampire baby (“They’re the worst,” explains Thomerson), plus some bonus nudity and lots and lots of fake blood being tossed around. And Foree’s role may be too brief compared to Thomerson (they’re given equal billing on the poster), but he’s having a grand old time and makes the most of his 10 minutes or so. In fact most of the actors seem to be enjoying themselves; Thomerson’s female partner was the only weak link, saddled with some of the movie’s dumbest dialogue and an inane twist near the end.
Unfortunately, the movie has a pretty major flaw – it resembles a 12 dollar student production from start to finish. The locations are clearly just the homes of producers and such (never knew vampires had such great DVD collections!), they drive boring everyday cars (the vamps roll in a Chevy Cavalier!), etc. The movie was shot over a six month period (mostly on weekends, from what I understand), and it definitely shows – there’s a disjointed feel to the movie throughout, and a lot of “Fake Shemping” that is pretty obvious. Lot of film school level mistakes too – you can hear the camera whirring more often than not.
And yes, whirring – that means film! Super 16 to be exact, which was a wonderful surprise. Unfortunately it looks like shit on this piss-poor DVD transfer, which is non-anamorphic and as lo-res as they come. The image often resembled a quickly compressed output from an Avid that was made before the film was actually finished, which is a shame as it will likely be mistaken for consumer grade video by some viewers – you can only really tell/appreciate that it’s film on still exterior shots during the day, which are unsurprisingly not too common. Hopefully they will go back and output the movie properly for a re-release someday; it’s bad enough there are so few movies being shot on film nowadays – it’s PAINFUL to see one of them get such a shoddy presentation.
The DVD is pretty jam-packed, which probably didn’t help the disc's “bit budget” much either. There’s footage from the film’s presence at a Fangoria convention in 2009 (I was at that one!), a handful of deleted scenes, some behind the scenes on the stunt scenes, a short film (and an intro to said short film), and the trailer, all totaling around 40 minutes or so. None of it is particularly essential, though the short is a surprisingly solid dramatic piece about Vietnam, and the deleted scenes are worth a look with director Jay Woelfel’s commentary, as he has plenty to say about their creation as well as the reasons for their removal (as opposed to some directors who only offer the latter). Woelfel is joined on the feature commentary (buried in the setup menu) by two of the actors, and it’s a pretty lively track as they go into great detail about various production problems (all of that obvious doubling is explained, not always flatteringly), point out a few continuity issues, how they pulled off some of the stunts and FX, etc. They come off a bit crass at times (discussing “titties” at one point), but it never goes silent, and anyone hoping to pull off an ambitious horror feature of their own with limited funds might learn a thing or two.
With so many movies out there that have not a single original idea in their head, it’s always nice to see one that brings something fresh to the table. It’s a shame that the movie often resembles something that I’d find on the Decrepit Crypt budget pack – with some actual money behind it this could have been a really kickass little movie. Instead it’s just something that may require an overdose of total shit to appreciate what it does offer; those who rarely dip into the indie/DTV horror landscape will likely just write it off as a waste of time. A shame really; everyone should appreciate Thomerson kicking a little ass regardless of the production value. Definitely worth a look for indie/vamp enthusiasts, but the crudeness may be a bit hard to ignore.
What say you?