It was only a matter of time before The October Horrorshow XIV: It Came from the Camcorder, would feature a movie that is a struggle to get through. By design, this month of reviews features movies that never approach the minimum standards for theatrical release. SOV horror is about as outside the mainstream of film as one can get, without delving into some really dark places. There are no Citizen Kanes, here.
Up to this point, SOV horror has been a pleasant surprise. The filmmakers I have watched have been free to tell the stories they want, without the watchful eye of the censor. It is beneficial for SOV horror when these movies do things their better-financed brethren would never try. And that’s what makes Vampires and Other Stereotypes, from writer, director, producer, and editor Kevin J. Lindenmuth, something of a disappointment. There he was, unshackled from the constraints of acceptable content, and he didn’t seize that opportunity. They can’t all be shitty gold.
From 1994, Vampires follows a pair of demon hunters and a bunch of partygoers who find themselves trapped in a building that has been transported to hell. Well, it’s more a basement room that was sent to hell, as the vast majority of the movie takes place in a single room.
Ivan and Harry (Bill White and Ed Hubbard) are just about to wrap up some demon-cleansing, when Gen-X revelers Erik (Mick McCleery), Kirsten (Wendy Bednarz), Jennifer (Suzanne Scott), and Linda (Anna Dipace), arrive on the scene looking for New York’s hottest underground party. Unfortunately for them, Jennifer had a bloody boo-boo out in the hall when she accidentally stuck her hand on a nail, and the blood has acted as a sacrament, undoing all of the demon-hunters hard work. To survive, they just have to make it to sunrise.
Throughout the night, the group is stalked by nasty demons who try, not all that hard, to break into the room and kill everyone. Physical stuff is not in these demons’ skillsets. They’re more into head games, causing hallucinations and twisting time and space to get at their potential victims. Meanwhile, Harry is the picture of calm, his only complaint being that he’s getting hungry as the night wears on.
By the time the plot becomes clear to the viewer, it’s also clear that they are in for a slog. The story doesn’t have much forward motion. Rather, the film is broken into its fright set pieces, and plot is conveyed through smatterings of exposition here and there. In makes sense in the barest of fashions, as if Lindenmuth had an outline for a story but never bothered to flesh it out.
It doesn’t appear as if Lindenmuth had much money to make his movie. The main room is very plain, lacking much set decoration. The effects are carnival fun house quality, and some of the spooky demons are outfitted with store-bought masks. According to the internet, so it must be true, Lindenmuth was working with a budget of 30,000 bucks. That’s pennies in the movie business, but I can’t tell where any of that cash was spent. Around the same time, Kevin Smith was making Clerks with a similar budget, shot on film rather than videotape, and the final product is miles ahead.
It wasn’t all Lindenmuth’s direction that makes this a difficult watch, however. The cast was just not good. But, considering the type of movie this is, it’s hard to fault them too much. One shoots a movie on videotape for 30 grand, true onscreen talent is going to be hard to come by.
Objectively, this movie is trash. Like many movies in the SOV horror subgenre, it has an informal feel, as if a group of friends thought it would be neat to make a horror flick one weekend. They raid the local Halloween store, set up some cheap decorations, and play at making a movie. That’s just about the harshest criticism I could give Lindenmuth and company, as they went and did a very difficult thing. Making a movie is hard.
Lindenmuth has gone on to add another 23 directing credits to his oeuvre, so this movie was enough of a positive experience for him to continue on. I support the continued production of shitty movies. All I want out of them is a little bit of life, and a little watchability. Vampires and Other Stereotypes was short on both, dropping it into the nether regions of the Index, displacing Alien Rising at #397. I will be watching more from Lindenmuth, and I hope it gets better.