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Non-Review Review: Lesbian Vampire Killers

I like to think that I can appreciate a movie for what it is. I was even able to find something positive to say about The Land of the Lost, for crying out loud! Still, this doesn’t stop Lesbian Vampire Killers from being one of the worst films I’ve seen in quite some time (The Reader and Deception are the only other two movie that stick out so strongly in my mind). Paul McGann is literally the only thing that is anyway half-decent in the film, and – much like his lead role in Doctor Who – he is sucked into the mindless vacuum of crap which surrounds him. Who the hell thought this was a good idea? Really?

Look, Paul McGann, if your religious relics couldn't keep you from getting tied up in this mess, they're probably not going hold off that rampaging sexually-liberated blood-sucker...

Okay, the idea isn’t entirely crap. The horror genre is one that it’s very easy to spoof and it’s one of the very few where you can get away with being just as dodgy as the product you are mocking. Cheap horror is comedic taken at face value, so – if add comedians – you must get extra comedy on top, right? If only it were that simple.

Part of the problem is that the fantastic Shaun of the Dead made it look ridiculously easy. And I’m more than a little sure that this particularly half-baked movie has its genesis in a late night viewing of that classic. There’s the rather obvious aping of the ‘epic sound effects’ joke, something that Shaun did quite well (so a character slams a phone book and whips it open and traces their finger along the paper and you hear everything in a ridiculously over-the-top manner). The problem is that the original film knew that a joke loses impact if repeated too often – and can even become annoying. Here you get that epic sound effect thing going on for absolutely everything. By the end of the first ten minutes, I had a headache. Though that may have been from paying attention.

The plot is intentionally hokey: in some small countryside village somewhere, girls become vampires at the age of eighteen. There are obviously logical problems with this (surely it’s hard to convince older women to move to the village in large enough numbers to sustain the population), but that kinda misses the point. It’s a perfectly serviceable and ridiculous plot. Sure, the realisation of how the villagers deal with their infestation calls to mind the absurdity of Hostel if it were set in the English Countryside, but there’s a nice and rustic quality to the film, which calls to mind the excesses of those classic Hammer horror films – there’s even a very English Vicar (played by one-time Timelord Paul McGann who must have served his penance for being Doctor Who’s George Lazenby by now). This nostalgic setup is enough to earn the film quite a bit of leeway. Which it very quick squanders.

Very simply, it’s not funny. It doesn’t even seem to know what funny is, except for somehow the notion that ‘guys like sex’ is hilarious, mixed in with a bunch of jokes the makers saw elsewhere but aren’t talented enough to even copy properly. The film manages to draw the occasional smutty grin (mostly through the film’s second best performance from James Corden, who probably could be funny with good material), but it somehow manages to sit awkwardly in the middle: is it an honest-to-god horror spoof, or an exploitation comedy? It never really settles on one genre or the other and just drifts listlessly.

Perhaps one of the best examples of the film’s uncertainty is the eponymous lady-friendly lady vampires. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but if you are basing a comedy around that premise, you should probably exploit it in some manner, rather than simply throwing two words (three, to be honest) together which you reckon the male audience will respond to. The fact that these creatures are lesbian is the subject of one throw-away joke and never really important. In fact, the film seems to suggest that they are – to be precise – at least bisexual vampires. Then there’s the fact that they die in an explosion of stick white substance which is clearly designed to call to mind a certain male bodily fluid. Classy.

What is even more unsettling, however, is the whiff of misogyny which underpins the whole film. What, you decry sarcastically, a film called Lesbian Vampire Killers might be sexist? Never! I’m talking about a more disturbing subtext. The film opens with the two lead male characters separately being victimised by a superior female figure – never mind that one of the two has a good reason – and then the pair spend the rest of the film stabbing, chopping and otherwise dismembering women? Of course the film wryly observes (in as crude a manner as possible) that a sword is just a giant phallus, but that doesn’t really excuse any of this. The obvious puritanical nature of the narrative (the lesbian must be destroyed by a symbol of male authority! the virgin shall live!) can be excused as a convention of the genre they wish to mock, but it’s the additional stuff which doesn’t sit well with me.

The style and set design of the movie is somewhat confusing. Clearly the intent of the people behind these designs is that the movie would suck, and seem cheap and poorly put together. However, there’s a fine balance a parody must strike. If it displays too much restraint in drawing attention to its crappiness, the audience may suspect that it isn’t part of the joke as it’s being played too softly; if it goes too far overboard, an attempt to emulate crap becomes crap itself. The design of the movie skirts dangerously close to the latter category, but falls just short because the set design isn’t the worst thing on the screen at any given moment. The exploding semen lesbian vampires are. But the set design isn’t even the second worst thing on screen at any given moment.

The actors are. In fairness, Paul McGann and James Corden try their best, but there isn’t enough there, making McGann seem too shallow and Corden seem too annoying. Matthew Horne doesn’t have anything resembling screen presence, and certainly not enough to anchor the film. As for the ladies themselves… let’s just say they weren’t cast for their acting abilities. I’m not sure if the awful Swedish accents were a self-conscious attempt to parody the popular convention of atractive Scandinavian women, or simply a sign that the actresses need accent coaches, but the film gives me no reason to assume that it’s the former.

All in all, it’s really just a terrible film. It may use the most famous undead creature, but it lumbers around as braindead and as pointless as a lone zombie.

One Response

  1. Loved this review!!! Made me laugh at how ridiculous some films are…especially when people are trying to copy another great film and just fail miserably.

    Thanks for making my day.

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