Reviewed by Gareth Jones
Directed by Jon Cunningham
Starring Jason Carter, Garett Maggart, Kira Reed
Distributed by Stax Entertainment
The bloodsucker subgenre takes an interesting twist in Jon Cunningham’s low-budget ditty Vampire, aka Demon Under Glass. As a result of the police’s hunt for a serial killer — nicknamed Vlad due to his penchant for draining prostitutes of their blood — Dr. Joseph McKay (Garett Maggart) finds his operating table graced with the last thing he could have ever expected…a very real vampire.
Locked up in an elusive maximum-security section of the hospital, Dr. McKay finds himself under the direction of a secret military unit led by the slightly odd Dr. Bassett (Jack Donner). Here he is forced to subject the vamp, Molinar (Jason Carter), to increasingly invasive, painful and brutal experiments in order to discover and document the nature of vampirism; and soon finds himself at odds between the methods in play and human concern for his patient’s treatment.
The success of Vampire relies heavily on the script and themes, offering an absorbing and intriguing take on the mythos. Surprisingly, Carter’s vampire shows little resistance once he is placed in captivity – and indeed goes on to become a willing participant in the experiment as he too seeks to determine just what he really is. His soft spoken and calculated performance is delivered almost to a tee, easily providing a gravitational center to the story. In fact, the majority of the players pull off their roles very well for such a low-budget flick, with the only gratingly poor shows coming from those in smaller bit-parts.
The plot feels underdeveloped in quite a few important places, however – for example Molinar’s psychic/sexual connection with the detective that ensnared him. This seems as though it’s going to form a rather large driving force to the story, but ultimately amounts to just about nothing. A little more time taken to strengthen the moral dynamic of the story, and add some meat to the question of just who is in charge of the experiment (was Molinar attracting the detective the whole time in order to be freed?) would have helped immeasurably. Due to this slip in focus the ending lacks complete satisfaction, which is disappointing considering the strengths the script displays.
Cunningham’s direction can also be pretty flat at times, with a noticable lack of active camerawork (probably due to budget and shooting restraints). He does manage to handle a level of humour extremely well, though (a hesitant dentist trying to make smalltalk while inspecting the vamp’s teeth), alongside some splashy and convincing gore. Ultimately, while the underlying plot and themes are impressive, and certainly handled well, Vampire feels disappointingly lacking – the skeleton of a truly fantastic flick. It’s certainly better than most low budget attempts, but it’s also frustrating to see something that is so close to being a true gem. If you’re a fan of the subgenre, you’ll more than likely dig it fault’s ‘n’ all.
Visually, Vampire looks like it was shot on video and this particular DVD presentation doesn’t do it any favours. The opening scenes will turn off a lot of viewers with gaudy red lighting that really doesn’t suit the format and makes everything look very unfocused and murky. Stick through this, however, and the movie finds its rhythm as the experimentation kicks in. From there, you’ll be sucked in and likely won’t care too much about the visuals. The film has previously been available under its original title Demon Under Glass since 2002. Disappointingly, despite all those years having gone by this reissue is completely bereft of special features.
3 out of 5
0 out of 5
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