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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Strange Things Happen at Sundown (2003)

Vampire movies have gotten a bit boring over the past few years, relying on either the vampire being either moody and angsty or in a rivalry with a werewolf.  But rest assured that there ARE some that step out of the usual vampire mold and are quite entertaining.

Marcel and Amy, two vampires have stolen $100,000.00 from vampire mobster Jimmy "Fangs" Petrucci, and are on the run.  A mysterious vampire hitman has been hired to hunt them down to get the money back.  While waiting for his money to be returned, "Fangs" has to deal with a strange female vampire who is killing his gang on her path to the vampire that created her.

"Strange Things Happen at Sundown" is a fun little vampire film that is witty and intellegent.  In 2003, it won the Audience Choice Award at the New York City Horror Film Festival.

The story is well crafted and smart.  It uses much of the vampire mythology with minor changes to bring a fresh feeling to the vampire genre.  Unused since Bram Stoker originally wrote "Dracula" is the concept that vampires CAN walk around during the day, but are stronger at night.  Since the main characters are all vampires, this certainly allows the director to present the story with a quicker pace by doing both day and night scenes.  Also taken from classic vampire mythology is the concept of the vampire created "ghoul".  If a normal human consumes vampire blood, they become the vampire's servant and a ghoul- often eating human flesh.  In this film, the ghouls tend to have a more zombie-like nature.  These and other vampire concepts are played with quite nicely in the movie- adding a pleasant depth to the characters and world they reside in.

While the acting isn't top notch, it is still quite enjoyable and you come to be interested in the characters.  My favorite character was the vampire hitman, "The Reaper" who cowers before nobody... except his wife- who just may be able to rip his soul out.

For a low budget film, there are some excellent pieces of camera work in this movie.  Interesting angles, lighting and editing combine to create an almost surreal atmosphere during the feeding and flashback scenes. Those moments compensate for most of the more bland camera set-ups.

And what would a vampire movie be without blood?  There is certainly copious amounts of blood and gore- especially when the vampires are feasting on their vicims entrails.  The grue is done quite well, I felt too- though there is one scene where it just seemed unneccesary.  It's the scene where Marcel goes to this house to talk to the vampire money launderer, Smooth.  It borders on the verge of "torture porn" and is a bit disturbing- which I'm sure was the point.  It was interesting and effective... but didn't really seem to fit in with the rest of the movie, and felt like it was added to kill time and simply unnerve the viewer.

Because of the gatuitous gore scene, and the less than professional acting, I'm going to have to place "Strange Things Happen at Sundown" in "The Bad"

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