First off, despite the video release date of 1991, it's hard to think of a film that screams "1985" louder than this direct-to-video vampire flick featuring the steamy, neon-lit streets of LA in the 80s. Honestly, watch it and tell me you disagree. That goth-punk band that keeps rearing its feathered mane throughout the film (Agent Orange, a real band from Orange County who are still putting out records) - is that not 3000% 1980s? Anyway, I digress... and I haven't even started the review, which I guess is probably bad. So anyway, while this is a distinctly B-grade vampire flick, it certainly stands out among other films of its ilk. Where to begin? First of all, it features George Chakiris, who won an Academy Award for his role in West Side Story in 1961 (and never again appeared in anything legitimate for some weird reason), in the leading role of Michael Fury, vampire hunter. Mr. Fury slinks through the neon-bathed streets of nighttime LA stalking a vampire, or a killer who thinks he is one. Van Vandemeer (played by Wings Hauser), a sleaze-bag "video art" director who totally epitomizes bottom-of-the-barrel Hollywood, keeps getting in the way of the investigation. And then there is Michael's vampire-obsessed co-investigator Lori, who dresses all in black and hangs around her apartment at midnight watching Nosferatu on infinite loop. I won't give away any spoilers, but suffice it to say that nothing surrounding the trio is as it seems, and there are several unexpected twists and turns before the film finally slams to a surprising finale that recalls the intro in a very clever way. Look, for a film that's obviously low budget, all this is very well-done. The acting is surprisingly classy, especially George Chakiris, who totally exudes grace and dignity and always stays perfectly aloof and serious and just acts totally cool in dealing with all the other morons the film pits him against. Why haven't we seen more of this man? Wings Hauser is also very convincing and appropriately scummy in his role as slime-ball erotic trash director. Pale Blood is also super atmospheric. Without featuring any really stunning camera-work or anything of that sort, it manages to maintain a very specific, creepy, neon-lit atmosphere, especially in Michael's condo, the kind of weirdly abstract, ultra-modern sort of place that seems like the natural habitat of an aloof, nocturnal dude like him. Finally, the plot is really pretty capably executed, including, as I said, a really awesome surprise ending, although there are indeed points that might elicit a slight groan (this is a B-movie, after all). So why hasn't anyone ever heard of this? I dunno, but it's not because it isn't any good. I'm guessing that there may have been some issues surrounding the film that caused it to be shelved for a few years after its production, which obviously took place sometime before 1990. If you still don't believe me about this, note that all the Agent Orange songs featured in the movie came out in 1986. I mean, if you'll tolerate B-grade cinema, you'll immediately appreciate all the dark humor, atmosphere, and unpretentious yet intelligent craft-work that went into this hidden gem. Finally, a note about the location - if this was really filmed in Hong Kong instead of LA, as the IMDb credits indicate, it sure fooled me, and I live in LA... yet another curious point about this curious and enjoyable little film.
A vampire pretender who is murdering women runs into a real vampire who is out to stop him because he is casting too much of a spotlight on the vampire community.
May 11, 2020