By G. Michael Dobbs
A dumb vampire movie, a better than I anticipated TV show and underground films are the focus of this week's DVD review column.
Blood on the Highway
The tagline for this new vampire "comedy," is "There's a sucker born every minute." And although the filmmakers intended that pun to involve vampires, I see it as the hapless boobs who spend their cold cash on renting or buying this truly awful film.
It goes way past the "so bad it's good" level and straight to "use this DVD as a coaster" level.
Personally I blame the success of the "Twilight" books and movies for all of the renewed interest and revisionist takes on the vampire myth.
In the DVD extras, the writers speak about how they've wanted to do this film since they were 15 years old and, boy, does it show. This is an "Evil dead" wannabe with gore, jokes and folks holed up in a house surrounded by the undead.
The trouble is none of the folks behind the camera have a sliver of a clue of what they need to do to accomplish such a film. The script is weak, the characters are weaker and the production values are meager and mis-used.
What I really like are the quotes from assorted horror film Web sites extolling this movie. Did those guys actually watch this thing or are they all 15 years old as well.
It does have a nicely done cover design, which I'm sure will lure people to rent it when they see it at the Red Box.
Avoid this one.
Sanctuary Season Two
I didn't have many hopes for the second season of the SyFy Channel show -- by the way, I hate the fact the channel uses this phonetic spelling of the abbreviation -- and I was pleasantly surprised as I watched the episodes.
The premise is that "in a world that seems like ours but isn't," Dr. Helen Magnus heads up a world-wide organization called Sanctuary with the goal of sheltering the planet's "abnormals " -- creatures that are considered mythic, if known at all.
The first season seemed derivative at times and then overly complicated. Magnus, thanks to an injection of vampire blood given over a century ago, might live forever. If that's not enough she was also once romantically entangled with a guy who became Jack the Ripper who can teleport and is no longer a psychopath, thanks to shock treatments from a vampire scientist named Telsa. Oh yes, and Jack is the father of Magnus' daughter.
The first season ended with a cliffhanger resolved in the first two episodes of the second season and once that is done, the show seems to get back to its central theme of saving the abnormals.
When the writers aren't throwing everything into the plot, the show is enjoyable. Shot on a green screen stage, it has a pretty impressive look and the computer animation of the abnormals seems much better than the first season.
It's worth trying.
It Came from Kuchar
I had heard over the years about the Kuchar brothers and their outrageous and highly influential underground films that shocked and delighted audiences in the 1960s and '70s, but until this documentary came out I had never had the chance to see their films.
I still haven't.
The only criticism of this fascinating look at two brothers who have been compelled to make no-budget movies since their received an 8mm camera as children back in the 1950s is while you see clips from their films, you don't get to see a complete one.
I assumed initially at least one of their films would be among the extras on the DVD, but I was wrong.
Since the Kuchar brothers had deeply influenced one of my favorite directors, John Waters, I really wanted to see what Waters had seen.
The documentary is a loving look at two highly eccentric artists who keep making movies despite the fact their output hasn't made them much money.
The question that is never asked -- perhaps the answer is obvious -- is if either George or Mike Kuchar ever had aspirations to be commercial filmmakers, since they were avid film fans themselves.
Regardless of these criticisms, "It Came from Kuchar" is a compelling documentary for any serious film fan.
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