If you rent a direct to video vampire movie, you’re not going to get anything wonderful. That’s a given. But sometimes, a movie is SO BAD you wonder how anyone was able to show it to a distributing company (in this case, Lion’s Gate) with a straight face.
Vampire Assassin is one such movie.
Telling the story of a cop who seeks revenge on the vampire that killed his father, Vampire Assassin is more or less a cheap (and I mean CHEAP) knock off of Blade, except they forgot to steal things like ‘coherence’, ‘acting ability’, and ‘interesting visuals’. There is almost nothing in this movie that qualifies as competence. Hall is a piss-poor director and an even worse actor. The camera barely moves, the film is ugly to look at, and apparently he knows nothing about color timing. And as an actor he’s as wooden as the stakes that you never see actually hitting anything throughout the film. His script isn’t a total waste, though. Yeah, it’s generic, and he apparently doesn’t know the difference between zombies and vampires, but it’s serviceable enough for a DTV movie, despite the occasional nonsensical line like “Remember, and remember it well: DON’T FORGET what I’ve told you!”
But everything on-screen is just an abortion. Every single shot of the film looks like it was videotaped in someone’s house or a toilet paper warehouse, and that’s probably the least of its problems. There’s an Asian girl who is speaking English yet still sounds dubbed, cue-card delivery on “Arnold-style” one-liners that make them sound even dumber than they already are, the worst special effects I’ve seen since the heyday of Ed Wood, and just an overall feeling of “Oh I forgot we were filming tonight, quick, call your cousin and see if him and his friends will come play vampires” throughout the duration of the film.
Christ, even during the opening titles, there’s a frame or two of a “slug” left in there. For non-editing folks, a slug is a placeholder for an effect or shot you currently do not have. So right before the title, you see SLUG and some other text under it. Nice work. I tried to screen cap it but my PC’s DVD player doesn’t have slo-mo and I don’t have the patience to keep trying to pause it at the right frame. It’s there though (someone else saw it too so I’m not crazy).
As previously mentioned, Hall isn’t much of an actor, making Snipes (the obvious inspiration) look like Olivier, even in Blade: Trinity! So with the hero (who is not the guy on the cover, by the way) a total wash, who should the audience care about? My pick would be the wise old Asian guy, a character that your Keye Lukes, Makos, or John Lones would normally play. This guy is just some surly drunk, emphasizing words at random and generally just having a grand old time. I laughed every time he appeared (then again I laughed at pretty much everything in this movie – I let out three belly laughs before even the “slug” appeared).
The main vampire heavy is a howler too. He’s sort of a Joe Estevez-y type who spends a full minute of the film waving his magic cape around in order to deflect After Effects bullets. What exactly his goal is, they never actually make clear, but I’m guessing it has something to do with ruling the world. No matter. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a supposedly threatening vampire lord throw his cape over a guy in order to subdue him, and afterwards, you wouldn’t want to.
Christ, even the goddamn props are laughable. We have some obviously plastic chains (which are merely just placed over the guy instead of wrapped around him), a set of torture knives that are just some random steak knives from any kitchen drawer, and box after box of paper towels and toilet paper. Why the police station and vampire home would have so many boxes of these things in their strikingly similar basements, I do not know, but that’s just part of the unparalleled ineptery that is Vampire Assassin.
At this point I expect nothing from Lion’s Gate, but this is a new low for them. They took what is little more than a home movie of some dudes pretending to fight each other in a toilet paper distribution center and had the audacity to charge 19.99 for it. It’s one thing for Ron Hall to make a movie and use it to show folks that he can (theoretically) make said movie for no money; it’s another thing for a legitimate company to actually distribute it with blatantly false advertising and ask people to pay for it. The movie doesn’t even look like it COST 19.99, why the hell should anyone pay that much for the privilege of owning the goddamn thing???
And for the love of Mike, he’s not even a friggin assassin! No one pays Derek Washington (yes, Ron Hall’s real name is almost more badass than his “badass” character’s name) to hunt vampires; he does this shit for the hell of it! I’d blame LG for the stupid title (which varies from Assassin to Assassins, which makes even less sense) too but it’s actually a line in the movie.
So forget what I said earlier, the script is stupid too.
Check out more of BC’s reviews at Horror Movie A Day!