Saturday, January 15, 2011

Vampire Journals (1997)

I could probably complain about the way the vampire has changed as far as pop culture is concerned, but lets face it-the vampire changes with the times regularly. From Hammer's Gothic yarns, the Lesbian Vampire craze of the 70's, the hip vampires of the 80's, and the action vampire of the 90's and 00's, the vampire will always undergo a change. The current "Twilight" and related titles craze will die out eventually, and the vampire will go through another change.

Oh, and then there's the Gothic Romantic vampire of Anne Rice. I was never really a fan of Rice to be honest. I tried reading "Interview With a Vampire" and another book of hers with a title I forget, but I just found it kinda whatever to be honest. Nonetheless, through much of the 90's Vampires were seen as tragic, almost romantic figures, and you can thank Rice (and maybe Coppola) for that. Said influence can be seen in Ted Nicolau's film "Vampire Journals", which has plenty of brooding and bloodshed. None of the homoeroticism, but I guess Rice fans can't always get everything they want.

Zachary (David Gunn) isn't a bad guy. Sure, he's a vampire, but he doesn't want to be. He also kills vampires, hoping to eradicate the bloodline or whatever. Also, he is fighting for a young pianist named Sofia (Kristen Cerre), who has also caught the eye of Ash (Jonathon Morris), who is the leader of an aristocratic coven in Budapest.

I will give "Vampire Journals" credit for this-it's very well directed, and has atmosphere by the ton. Nicolau clearly has an eye for location, and he milks it for every bit of it's worth. Also, it's one of the last Full Moon titles that actually resembled something of a classy production-okay, about as classy as a direct to video movie can get, but class nonetheless. Things like that always made Full Moon stand out from it's other compatriots that flooded the video market.

The problem though, is that apart from Morris, nobody here is a good actor. Gunn in particular is bad, and delivers most of his dialogue in long, drawn out and irritating monologues that feel like they never end. Every time the character of Zachary tells us about how he is a tormented soul or his war against other vampires, I just wanted him to shut the fuck up. It also doesn't help that none of the vampires here are that frightening. I know, it's influenced by Anne Rice, but none of them are that interesting except for Ash. In fact, they all look more like people in Bauhaus tribute bands than they do vampires, and it's hard not to laugh at the pancake make-up wearing actors trying to be scary. Then again, as I said, I was never a Rice fan, so maybe that's just my own prejudices talking.

"Vampire Journals" isn't a total waste of time, but it's not anything that will win anyone over other than Full Moon devotees. Interestingly enough, the last entry in the "Subspecies" franchise was a crossover with this movie, and saw the vampire Ash returning.

Rating: 5/10

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