Sunday, October 10, 2021

Polish Vampire in Burbank, A (1983)

Directed by:
Mark Pirro

Remember all those T&A “bikini” comedies that dominated last night cable and video stores in the early 90s? There was The Bikini Carwash Company (1 and 2), Bikini Summer (1, 2 and 3), Bikini Drive-In, Bikini Beach Race, The Great Bikini Off Road Adventure, Bikini Island, Bikini Squad, Bikini Hotel, Beach Babes from Beyond, Beach Beverly Hills, Cave Girl Island, California Hot Wax and scores more. The formula was simple: Fill your movie with as many beautiful women in barely-there bikinis (usually consisting of little more than a few pieces of strategically-placed string) as possible.

One title from this cycle that always stood out to me was Pirro's Buford's Beach Bunnies (1993), which "boasted" the star value of Jim Hanks (Tom's brother) and was on constant rotation on late night cable. Even though it otherwise stuck pretty closely to the usual bikini movie formula, I remember being surprised by the sheer number of goofy sight gags that were packed into the film. Sure, some of them worked better than others, but what was impressive was that the director even bothered putting them in there in the first place. Instead of entirely focusing on lingering ass and tit shots, Pirro would stick a lot of the comedic gags in the background. It's kind of like he wanted to make the comedy movie, was assigned the T&A movie (or knew he could market the T&A movie), and decided to make both and have them running simultaneously. Not high art, mind you, but it showed more effort than other, similar titles and it did make the film stand out.

I'm not sure why it took me so long to watch another Pirro movie, but I was almost instantly glad I did when I found myself smiling throughout the opening few minutes of this one. After the camera spends some time prowling around a castle, we meet a young vampire named Dupah (played by the director) and are immediately bombarded with a bunch of sight gags. Dupah keeps a poster of Farrah Fawcett on his coffin lid, sleeps with a stuffed Frankenstein monster doll and wears bat pajamas. He then makes his way to the bathroom and brushes his fangs with Close Up toothpaste and a toilet brush (!) As that's going on, we venture out onto the city streets at night. A hooker is approached by an older potential client. She asks, "You wanna party? You got the bread?" and the man instantly pulls a loaf of bread out from behind his back (lol, Jesus!) An older male vampire (Hugh O. Fields) and his vampire daughter, Yvonne (Marya Gant), then kill both the hooker and her pimp.

After siphoning blood out of the hooker's neck into a plastic baggie, the vampires take it home to give to Dupah (the older vampire's son and Yvonne's brother) for breakfast. He drinks it with a straw while watching vampire cartoons. However, the vampire dad is getting fed up with always having to be the "bloodwinner" (hehe) and his son's laziness, squeamishness ("Bite people? Ewww!") and refusal to work. "You should be out at night roaming the streets... attacking young ladies... Look at you! You're a full grown vampire and you've never bitten anyone in your life! When I was your age, I sucked more blood than a California landlord!" The dad then instructs Yvonne to take Dupah out and show him how it's done.

Yvonne relates a flashback to their missing, even more useless brother Sphincter. He's played by Eddie Deezen, the original production's star when filming began in 1981. Deezen quit midway through filming, which forced the director to re-script the film, dub him (he's given a similarly annoying nasal voice) and use what footage he did shoot of the actor in the form of flashbacks. One of those shows Yvonne taking him to a bar where he strikes out again and again, finally running across a cross-wielding bible thumper and member of a "Judo for Jesus" club who decides to use her skills to "beat the Holy Ghost into him." Sphincter gets knocked out and doesn't wake up until morning, and we all know what happens when vampires are exposed to sunlight.

Dupah and Yvonne stumble upon a couple - Delores (not Lois) Lane (Lori Sutton) and the afro'd Ernie (Steve Dorsch) - exiting a theater showing "Enema Vampires." Ernie acts like a dick and then storms off just because Delores professes to love horror and vampire movies. (What? Is he nuts?) Dupah then makes his move. While Delores may be a hot, bubbly blonde who works at a health spa, she has a darker side when it comes to all things romantic and gets turned on by vampires, castles, biting, large fangs and Gothic atmosphere and imagery. Even more perfect. Could this possibly be Dupah's dream woman? He agrees to swing by her work the following day so they can hang out again. But, wait a minute, isn't he supposed to be vampire-ing?

It soon becomes pretty clearly what parallels this is attempting to draw between a vampire's first time feeding and a human's first time falling in love / losing their virginity. Dupah is even coached by the skull of his late brother, who gives him a bunch of bad pointers that end up backfiring. As Dupah is trying to navigate the relationship and goes back and forth as to the right time to put the bite to his new girlfriend, we meet a bunch of other oddball characters, the best of which is Delores' roommate Misty (Bobbi Dorsch), an extremely confused girl who can't decide if she's some kind of New Age kook or an airhead Valley Girl ("Like, where ya been like?"). Either way, she's dumb as a box of rocks and thinks a Slinky is a Rubik's Cube and test patterns on TV are a "boring" movie.

While there are plenty of dumb laughs and amusingly quirky bits (including a random Sonny and Cher musical performance [?] at a pool party) to be found in here, other parts are just plain bizarre and didn't strike me as particularly funny. Some, in fact, is downright uncomfortable, like the overdubs on some of the black actors. There's also a head-scratching Jacuzzi scene where Dupah encounters both a lost spy wearing a full tuxedo in the water (John McCafferty) and a cursed "Queerwolf" (Paul Farbman) who comes on to him and later shows up in drag. One thing that does manage to shine through here is the director's love for classic vampire movies. Christopher Lee and Bela Lugosi get name dropped, Dupah takes Delores to a screening of Count Yorga, Vampire, Elvira is seen on a TV set hosting The Fearless Vampire Killers and there's a gorgeously-shot black-and-white fantasy sequence complete with light strips over the eyes and lots of smoke. Z movie regular / former Ed Wood movie alum Conrad Brooks and Katina Garner (HACK-O-LANTERN) show up briefly in a bar scene.

The director managed to get this a limited theatrical release, a VHS release (from Simitar) and frequent cable TV airings, which is pretty very impressive considering this was shot on Super 8 for less than 2,500 dollars. It went on to gross half a million and is supposedly the cheapest movie ever to play on USA Up All Night... which is really saying something! Pirro also made Deathrow Gameshow (1987), which was shot on 35mm and had the uncommonly high (for him) budget of 200,000 dollars, plus other Super 8 ultra low budget horror comedies with catchy titles like Curse of the Queerwolf (1988) and Nudist Colony of the Dead (1991). Pirro now self-distributes all of his own movies on DVD on his website.

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