Friday, October 18, 2013

Halloween Havoc: VAMPIRE COP (1990)

If there is anything film producers love to do, it is kill two birds with one stone.  How else can you explain the plethora of horror films that have a cop as the title character?  We’ve had the MANIAC COP series, the PSYCHO COP series, and the SCANNER COP films. Hell, I’m shocked HIGHWAY TO HELL (1991) wasn’t called HELLCOP and the werewolf cop film FULL ECLIPSE (1993) wasn’t called WEREWOLF COP.  You can almost hear the giddy producers saying, “We have a horror film and an action film! The best of both worlds.” To be honest, I’m surprised it took forever for a vampire cop to appear on the scene with the TV series FOREVER KNIGHT (1989-1996).  What doesn’t surprise me is that a low budget filmmaker was on the concept faster than Tom on an Aussie post-apocalypse action movie.  So who was this enterprising and capitalizing filmmaker?  Donald Farmer.  Goddamnit!

If you haven’t figured it out yet, VAMPIRE COP is about a vampire who is a cop (or, if you prefer, a cop who is a vampire).  We’re never told how he got this way.  We are just given vampire cop and told to deal with it.  The film opens in a club where a “Hot Bods” contest is going down while some of the whitest boy dancing ever is caught on film.  The club owner chooses two girls to go back to his hotel room for a night of action, but is soon interrupted by their former pimp Hans Geiger (Terence Jenkins).  He kills one girl and then takes the other back into his fold.  Meanwhile, in a completely unrelated bit intercut with this, Traci (Morrow Faye) is picked up by the side of the road by a guy named Joey who tries to put the moves on her.  By putting the moves, I mean he demands, “Shut the mouth and drop the pants.”  This doesn’t end well for him as Vampire Cop shows up and chomps him on the neck with his big fang-y teeth.  So Vampire Cop is like the real life McGruff as he is taking a bite out of crime.

At least Vampire Cop uses deodorant:

In reality, Vampire Cop is one William Lucas (Ed Cannon) and, you guessed it, he works the night shift.  He just happens to be on his way to an undercover sting to bust…you guessed it again…Geiger!  Not only is Geiger an unscrupulous pimp, he is also the city’s most unscrupulous drug dealer. Apparently busts are new to Lucas and his partner as they sit around and gab while the undercover officer in the motel room is being outed and shot by Geiger and his right hand man Kurt. Protocol is again breached as our two cops follow the guys to a warehouse sans backup and then Lucas’ partner is killed. Naturally, his response is to vamp up and kill Kurt while Geiger gets away.  Investigating the unusual crime reports (not every day you have people turn up bitten) is TV reporter Melanie Roberts (Melissa Moore), who now has Vampire Cop witness Traci living with her. Melanie’s investigative techniques involve just walking into Vampire Cop’s house unannounced while he hangs upside down in the closet (read into that all you want). Anyway, as expected, they get involved and soon are in bed.  Quickly after that they are all pawns in Geiger’s ridiculous attempts to clear his name and take over the city.

You figure if I am going to lower my standards with VAMPYRE (1990) that it only seems fitting that I continue to lower them (and bring further shame upon my family name) by checking out another film from the same company, Panorama Films. The fact that I willingly watched another film by Donald Farmer after seeing SAVAGE VENGEANCE (1993) should let you know how far I am willing to go to one up Tom in our unofficial “I saw a worse movie than you” Halloween Havoc competition. Shockingly, VAMPIRE COP offered a few surprises for this viewer still smarting from his first Farmer viewing.  The biggest one is that this movie is actually shot on film, which is a huge leap from the shot-on-video VENGEANCE (which was made in the ‘80s but unreleased until the ‘90s).  Now some might see that as offering salt as opposed to lemon juice on a fresh wound, but in the land of Farmer that is a big freakin’ deal.  A huge freakin’ deal. The film also offers some decent acting, especially from female lead Moore.  And Mal Arnold (yes, Fuad Ramses from BLOOD FEAST [1963] himself) plays a Lieutenant who gets properly chopped up.  There is also plenty of gratuitous nudity.  I guess it helps when the first thoughts of your female cast everyday aren’t “I need to get out of here” (google “Camille Keaton” + SAVAGE VENGEANCE for more info on that).  There is also a vampire meltdown at the end that is almost decent.  Again, a huge freakin’ deal in a Farmer film.

Of course, using film stock is only going to go so far and will merely present Farmer’s ineptness with a nicer sheen.  Would you believe a film called VAMPIRE COP never has the titular character in a cop uniform? I guess VAMPIRE UNDERCOVER COP just didn’t have that ring to it.  And the closest he gets to a cop car is some second unit footage of a car driving around the city with its lights on.  I mentioned in the VAMPYRE review how producers must love the vampire concept because all you need are fangs, blood and a cape. Well, all we get are fangs and blood here as Cannon growls wide-eyed into the camera. It also doesn’t help that Farmer writes Lucas as the dumbest cop alive. Seriously, he makes Sgt. John “Turkey” Turquoise from HOLLYWOOD COP (1987) seem like Sherlock Holmes or Dirty Harry. Vampire Cop goes everywhere sans back up and falls for the oldest trick in the book when two of Geiger’s ladies of the night call him and say, “We want to get away from him.  Come help us.”  And how do you write a movie in the ‘80s about a vampire cop and not have some goofy one liners? Farmer’s script actually introduces an interesting concept (Geiger wants to make his cohorts all vampires) but that comes literally within the last 10 minutes, so it is never given time to develop.  Farmer also can’t resist giving himself a small role as well and his acting in the finale – which rips off the ending of THE HOWLING – would make Tarantino go, “This dude is a bad actor.” In the end, VAMPIRE COP is only recommended for folks trying to one up their friends in the bad movie sweepstakes.

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