Tuesday 22 September 2009

Lesbian Vampire Killers (2009)

Tuesday 22 September 2009
Grabbin' a Stakey...

They want to be Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, but they're closer to a cut-price Chris Farley and David Spade; TV double-act James Corden and Mathew Horne make the leap to feature-film with horror-comedy Lesbian Vampire Killers -- a project where the provocative title creates a ravenous appetite that goes unnourished.

Jimmy (Horne) is the cuckolded boyfriend of man-eater Judy (Lucy Gaskell); cruelly dumped for the umpteenth time, he decides to get over her by going on a hiking trip with vociferous best-friend Fletch (Corden). The boys arrive at a remote Norfolk village, suffering a centuries-old curse that every villager's daughter becomes a lesbian creature of the night when they turn 18. Every father's nightmare, eh? Fletch and Jimmy seek refuge in a rural house, tagging along with a VW camper van full of nubile, sexy Scandinavian girls -- which unfortunately becomes the scene of a vampire attack after dark. The vamps intend to resurrected their long-dead queen Camilla (Silvia Colloca) using the blood of a virgin and the descendant of Camilla's legendary vanquisher, Jimmy.

Directed by Phil Claydon, Lesbian Vampire Killers isn't as terrible as you're expecting, but neither is it anywhere near as good as it should have been. It's essentially Hammer Horror via Nuts magazine, offering cliché and smut where the likes of Shaun Of The Dead gave us stake-sharp satire and allegory. There are glints of something more intelligent lurking beneath the quagmire, but not enough surfaces. I sort of enjoyed how the sexually-frustrated leads felt taunted by the whole situation (a quartet of promiscuous babes turning lesbian is bad enough for them, forget the vampire element), and when killed these nosferatu even explode into gallons of spunk. Needless to say, salvation comes in the form of a phallic "cock-sword" that the boys must use to reassert their masculinity and penetrate these foul wenches back to Hades -- yes, the subtext could be read as slightly homophobic, too.

There's a certain low-budget charm to proceedings, I guess. It opens with a prologue resembling 300 on a shoestring-budget, then later spends half its time on sound stages full of foliage hiding dry-ice machines, where fanged glamour models drift around in slow-motion making wavy arm movements. There are moments of fairly effective gore (a shower scene where the water's blessed by Paul McGann's potty-mouthed Vicar, to dissolve a vamp), and the occasional joke hits its target, but it's still the kind of film where you're checking your watch before the hour. It's not exactly scary, it's not especially funny, so it ultimately fails in its aim as a horror-comedy.

For all its flaws (not least a terrible lack of scope), Horne and Corden do what they can with the misfiring material and tepid tone. It's a shame the jokes weren't better, the story cleverer, the drama more persuasive, and the action more original, as both actors have a certain appeal that transcends the crudity at times. As it stands though, Horne's a half-decent actor with nothing worth performing and Corden's a comedian with no funny gags in his arsenal. Claydon's direction tries to compensate for the script's lack of polish with an abundance of comic-book visual tic's (page-turning scene transitions, floating on-screen legends, pointlessly hand-cranked shots, an aerial CGI forest), but he only succeeds in calling attention to himself filling a void.

The title attracts a bite, but it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Did you seriously expect anything else?

directed by: Phil Claydon written by: Stewart Williams & Paul Hupfield starring: James Corden (Fletch), Mathew Horne (Jimmy), Paul McGann (Vicar), Emer Kenny (Rebecca), Lucy Gaskell (Judy), MyAnna Buring (Lotte), Louise Dylan (Anke), Ashley Mulheron (Trudi), Tiffany Mulheron (Heidi), Vera Filatova (Eva), Silvia Colloca (Camilla) & Emma Clifford (Ms. Rossi) / Momentum Pictures / 88 mins. / www.lesbianvampirekillersmovie.co.uk

Blu-ray reviewed on a Toshiba 37XV505DB LCD TV, via Playstation 3, equipped with Onkyo HTX22HD 5.1 Surround Sound.