Monday, October 6, 2014

Halloween Havoc: GYPSY VAMPIRE'S REVENGE (2008)

Sometimes I wake up screaming in a cold sweat during the middle of the night.  It isn’t due to some horrible nightmare in my brain; it is from something far worse.  Sitting among my video collection is a DVD spindle that will chill any cinefile to the bone.  It is a collection of films starring Conrad Brooks that my friend Dave “kindly” sent me.  The discs sit there and stare at me.  They are Audrey to my Seymour as they cry out and say, “Watch me, Wilson! Watch me!”  It is a task that I valiantly try to complete, but it also requires resolve so I space them out to one or two a year.  In fact, I reviewed one just last year…uh oh, it is that time again.

Cult film fans know Brooks as the last living link to the wacky world of celebrated z-grade auteur Ed Wood.  The young Maryland local had small roles in several of Wood’s most famous films and has since parlayed this fact into a career of starring in dozens of shot-on-video schlock-fests.  Not only did Brooks get back in front of the camera, but he also started directing his own low budget efforts back in his native Maryland.  This resulted in two series – the JAN-GEL and the GYPSY VAMPIRE films.  We already hit one JAN-GEL flick with HILLBILLY MONSTER (2003), so now it seems time to sink out teeth into (ah, boo yourself) a GYPSY VAMPIRE flick.  Alright, someone pass the aspirin.

GYPSY VAMPIRE’S REVENGE is actually the second film in the series, but I’m brave (or stupid) enough to figure I can get the basics of the back story.  We open with what is quite possibly the worst establishing shot in cinematic history.

Is this supposed to be a real “castle” because the damn thing looks like some footage from a Sega CD game?  Anyway, gypsy vampire acolyte Lucy takes her minions to the cemetery to resurrect the bones of Count Lugo (whose skeleton amazingly has a ring in the top of its skull to hang it).  Okay, I think I have it – Count Lugo was killed at the end of GYPSY VAMPIRE (2005).  Back at the castle, they place dem bones into a coffin and it resurrects into the flesh-and-blood Count Lugo (Bruce “Porkchop” Lindsay of the Redskins’ Hogettes fame).  Alright, the gypsy vampire is back in business.  Cut to a heavy metal song as the opening credits unroll over footage of a cemetery taken from a car.  I don’t know why, but the mental image of Conrad rocking out to this song makes me laugh.  Here is a visual representation of how that looks in my brain.

The vamp is back alive and living in his castle with his minions, but things are about to get really complicated for him. Two local entrepreneurs, Marvin and Joe, have bought the castle and plan to turn it into a vampire museum to pay tribute to the local legend that happened three years ago.  Not only that, but they have hired renowned New York stage actor Terrance Logan Bridwell to come and perform in a play about Lugo.  For some reason all of this action happens in a local restaurant.  Thankfully, this allows for the film’s best line as Bridwell pompously declares his accomplishments (“I was in Hamlet!”) and the hostess says, “This is just a diner, but we are serving ham tonight.”  Yes, that is the film’s best line.  Also hired for this play to provide accuracy is Dr. Cabasa, the same dude who was responsible for bringing Lugo down by having him suck on a babe with garlic-laced blood.

Meanwhile, hopeless drunk Cap (Brooks) has been trying to get into a local poker game, but drowns his sorrows when denied.  With the game over, the winner Queenie gets escorted back to her cabin by a guy named Johnny Walker (haha, get it?).  When they get to her place, they have a torrid sex scene…where director Brooks opts to just have a black screen and you hear slaps, moans, and groans. Following this unseen sex scene, Queenie is kidnapped by one of Lugo’s minions in a gas mask because Lucy has sent him out to get new blood for the sickly count.  This disappearance leads to an investigation by Sheriff Will (I can support this name choice) and his interrogation of Dr. Cabasa ends with him driving the good doc to the castle.  The troupe – which has been joined by a director who sports a beret – is preparing for their first rehearsal.  Wise to the game, Count Lugo kills off the actor hired to play him and replaces him; everyone in the cast sees no difference as they attribute it to a great make up job by the thespian.  Naturally, this is all a plan for Lugo to exact his revenge on Dr. Cabasa and – I think – resurrect his long dead love or something.

(Uncovering my eyes) Did I make it?  Did I survive? (Looks around to see stacks of videos) Whew!  Yes, GYPSY VAMPIRE’S REVENGE is as soul-crushingly terrible as you would expect, but for some reason I didn’t feel like I was suffering in hell like I usually do.  Maybe it is because I knew what I was getting into…or because I watched it in ten minute increments during football while cleaning and reading. Or maybe that was a result of it having a running time shorter than an episode of 60 MINUTES.  Clocking it at just 49 minutes, this Conrad Brooks joint isn’t really around long enough to truly damage my psyche. Not that it wasn’t bruised or battered with the anti-thespians and the grim shot-on-video veneer.  I will freely admit that my favorite part was a shot where the microphone is clearly in the shot.  This goof wasn’t as shocking, however, as realizing they used actual microphones on this.  Also, Count Lugo’s eye patch keeps switching which eye it is placed on.  I can’t tell if that is ineptness or intentional goofiness with a one-eyed wink.  I’ll just assume the former, while I’m sure the filmmakers claim the latter.

Of course the film is cheap, but this might set a new level for low budget.  Believe it or not, this actually makes the aforementioned HILLBILLY MONSTER seem like a big budget masterpiece as that one had tons of locations and a cast of dozens.  This one seems to have three locations (a restaurant, a cheapo haunted house, and someone’s living room) and a cast of six.  Brooks can’t be bothered to work in anything exploitive that would appeal to audiences.  Well, unless you count a guy in a Tor Johnson mask.  The most amazing thing is this is a vampire flick with no blood and no fangs.  Think about that for a second – a vampire film missing the key ingredients of the genre. That is like an action film with no action (“That’s called BACK IN BUSINESS with Brian Bosworth,” says Tom) or a porn film without sex!  Perhaps the most surprising thing about the film is the lack of screen time for Brooks himself.  He only has one scene and it is about four minutes.  This actually made me sad because I actually enjoy his lively demeanor.  He is kind of like that crazy uncle you’ve always had.  You know something is wrong when I’m asking for more Conrad Brooks in a picture. Brooks, a man who loves to be in anything-and-everything, opted to take himself out of his own flick.  Now think about that for a damn second.  Thankfully, I’ve crossed my annual Conrad Brooks flick off my list and can now go back to my semi-sanity.

0 Reactions:

Post a Comment

All comments are moderated because... you know, the internet.