Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Gem of the Month- Sundown: Vampire in Retreat

What do you get when you combine vampires, substitute for blood and Utah?   Well here’s a hint: Not True Blood.   No, this is Sundown: Vampire in Retreat by Director Anthony Hickox (Waxwork, Waxwork II and Warlock the Armageddon) and written by John Burgess.  Deep in the heart of…okay not Dixie but Utah exist a town called Purgatory.  A town filled with incredibly pale people that are covered from the sunshine with parasols and large brimmed hats.   This town of vampires has rejected the ways of the night and preying on the innocent is lead by master vampire Count Mardulak (John Carradine of Kung-Fu).  The town has a processing plant that is making an artificial blood to curb the need to feed but it breaks down and only one man can repair or refurbish parts for it.  Enter the Harrison Family.  John (Jim Metzler L.A. Confidential and Bad City Blues) brings wife Sarah (Morgan Brittany of Love Boat and Dallas) and their two kids to this remote and isolated town where neither of them is the wiser to this odd little bit of Americana.   Seriously they are so thick you could clock them in the coconut and it might not register until a day or two later.  On the trail of Count Mardulak is fearless vampire hunter Robert Van Helsing (Bruce Campbell of Evil Dead, Spiderman and Burn Notice) determined to end the evil that is a bloodsucker only to be smitten by lovely vampire Sandy (Deborah Foreman of Valley Girl and Waxwork) John’s former rival for Sarah’s affection Shane (Maxwell Caulfield of Waxwork II and Empire Records) who happens to be the town’s chief engineer but he needs John’s expertise.
  The Harrisons’ little girls note the townsfolk seem a bit different and are clued in that there are two factions of vampires.  One attempting to repent and the other is return to the old ways.   The Count attempts to maintain the peace while his right hand man Ethan Jefferson (John Ireland of Gunslinger and Waxwork II) tells vampires that they have nothing to feel guilty about and they should revel in their powers.   How does one solve those differences?  Why with a shoot out of course.   This film combines comedy, horror and western all in one unusual package.   My favorite thing about this film is the three brothers Milt (Bert Remsen of The Bodyguard and McCabe and Mrs. Miller) Merle (Sunshine Parker of Tremors  and Roadhouse) Mort (M Emmet Walsh of The Flash, Bladerunner and Chasing 3000) Bisby.  They all run this tiny gas station and look like they are just a gnat’s wing flap away from brutalizing humans.  Mort knocks the head off of this coked up jackass for being rude and abusive.   The two campers were really unnecessary characters as a whole.

Admittedly the film did seem like there was filler thrown in and John Carradine’s performance did seem a little off (methinks drinking days still), and sure he and Bruce were hardly in any of the scenes but dammit it was a fun movie.   The movie finishes off at 104 minutes and while it dragged a bit you got the scope of what the director was trying for. I ask you to find me a vampire story with conflict, romance and gunfight worthy of the OK corral and in general, an amazing cast.   A lot of tongue in cheek humor combined with a potential love triangle story line sprinkled with some rivalry and a few odd gore effects and you have a fairly decent film.