Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Vampire Cop (1990)

Directed by:
Donald Farmer

From the man who brought us CANNIBAL HOOKERS (1987) and SCREAM DREAM (1989) - it's OK to run away right now; I totally understand - comes this shot-on-video mixture of urban action/thriller, cop drama, horror flick and gratuitous overuse of slow motion. The first twenty-five minutes is an interestingly edited cluster of things to come. While the opening credits slowly roll out, we see people dancing in a club, a vampire making goofy strained faces and showing his fangs, the same vampire standing valiantly in foggy silhouette, a nightmare-plagued blonde writhing in bed, a teen girl getting forced at gunpoint into a thugs car and various other things. At the club a "Hot Body" bikini contest is in full swing. Two of the girls; Nikki and Danielle, agree to go back to the hotel with an older guy for 300 bucks apiece. Before the guy can even get going (but after one girl takes her top off and the other hops in the shower), there's a knock on the door. In marches German crime boss / drug dealer / pimp Hans Geiger (Terence Jenkins), who's pissed his two girls are freelancing. He shoots Danielle dead and then forces Nikki back onto the street.

Geiger and his henchman Kurt (Phil Newman) attempt to make a drug deal with an undercover agent. When they discover who he is, they shoot him dead and end up in a car chase with two other cops; Newhouse (Don Tilley) and Mr. Vampire Cop himself, musclebound blonde William Lucas (Ed Cannon). Things end with Kurt and Newhouse dead and Lucas vowing revenge against the crime lord. Meanwhile, teen runaway Traci (Morrow Faye) - a girl who was almost raped until Vampire Cop came to her rescue and killed the guy - goes to reporter and TV hostess Melanie Roberts (Scream Dream star Melissa Moore) for help. Melanie allows her to stay in her home while she's investigating the case and a string of unsolved murders where people are turning up dead with strange, bat-like bite marks on their necks are just beginning. Melanie eventually teams up with Lucas in hopes they can crack the case together. Naturally, the two end up falling in love too, though it takes her forever to put two-and-two together. Hey, she's investigating what the press refers to as "The Vampire Murderer" and finds herself dating a man who refuses to leave the house during the day, works only at night, doesn't cast a shadow in the mirror and doesn't smoke, drink or even eat!

This is a very slight improvement over the director's previous films in that it has an actual storyline, numerous locations, decent videography and a couple of actors with charisma and the ability to recite their dialogue without coming off like they recently received a lobotomy. Hunky Cannon is pretty amateurish as the title character, but Moore looks great and is appealing as our heroine, Jenkins does a great job as the bad guy and R.J. McKay is fun as one of his henchmen. There's also a fun role for "special guest star" Mal Arnold as a police lieutenant who ends up getting chainsawed. You may remember Mr. Arnold as deranged Egyptian caterer Fuad Ramses in Herschell Gordon Lewis' seminal gore flick BLOOD FEAST (1963). Can't say I'm familiar with most of the rest of the cat, but most at least seem like they're at least trying to act.

Not that this film doesn't have major problems. In fact, it's loaded with them. Farmer seems inept in the ways of continuity and making sure everything that needs to be filmed actually is filmed (notice how many times shots of police cars and exteriors of houses are spliced into the middle of scenes). Slow motion is constantly used for no good reason and we even get flashbacks to things we just saw a scene earlier but put in slow motion. I also had a big problem with how sloppy the Vampire Cop was. He bites many people - including the main bad guy - and then just leaves them there so that they'll return as vampires (and naturally be harder for him to defeat). You'd think he'd be a bit smarter after having lived on the fringes without being detected for over 100 years. Several characters who are bitten transform into vampires and are never seen again. And speaking of never seeing characters again, Geiger's henchman AND even the main character miraculously just disappear in the middle of the big finale, leaving out heroine alone with the crime boss! The last scene rips off the final scene in THE HOWLING.

Farmer financed the film and also wrote it. Tim Ritter (TRUTH OR DARE?) was an associate producer. For some reason, it was filmed in three different cities in three different states; Pensacola, Florida, Atlanta, Georgia and Los Angeles, California).


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