Starring Dharma Lim, Shy Theerakulsit, Ben Wang
Directed by Rob Fitz
What were you doing six years ago? Seriously I want you to stop and think about it; where were you in the year 2000? Can you imagine having a project you started that year that you can now, today, finally say is complete? Hell, in six years I’ve gone through three websites and actually made a bit of a name for myself. I’ve never even held a normal job for that long!
Rob Fitz has though. For the last six years he’s been making a low budget action/horror hybrid called God of Vampires, and now, in December of 2006, he can say it is complete. The very definition of low budget filmmaking, Fitz spent every dime he had and all the free time he could spare making this movie a reality, and if you’re from New England chances are you’ve heard of it at one point or another. It’s a bit of a legend around here.
All right, so the film is done. Six years of blood, sweat, and high credit card payments; and finally there is something to show for it. The big question is: Does the end justify the means?
Going into this movie knowing as much history as I did and knowing from personal experience how difficult it is to make a short film, let alone a feature length like this one, the answer is a resounding “yes”. God of Vampires is full of action, gunplay, geysers of blood, chainsaw deaths, and some truly creepy looking vampires. It’s the kind of flick that may not go over so well in the confines of your living room watching it alone, but with a bunch of friends and a case of beer, or even better at midnight in a local rep theater filled with like-minded individuals, it’s a blast.
All right, a bit on the plot, just so you know what we’re dealing with here. Dharma Lim stars as Frank Ng, a contract killer with very little left in the world to care about. He’s hardened, does his job quickly and professionally, and never thinks about the consequences. His faceless employer sends him to meet a new potential client, a twitchy overweight man with some obvious mental issues who wants Frank to find a specific sicko in Chinatown and bring him back the man’s head. Though he insists decapitation will cost a bit more, Ng barely bats an eye when he’s given the task. Just another job.
When he finds this new hit, however, things don’t go quite as planned. The guy takes a bullet to the back of the head and three to the gut, and all it does is knock him down for a few seconds. Ng barely escapes with his throat intact and seeks out help once he figures out that his new hit ain’t human, which he finds in the form of Uncle Ping (Wang), owner of a Chinese restaurant and well versed in the mythology of the Chinese vampire. The only way to stop these creatures (and this is all based on actual Chinese vampire myth) is to attach a Chinese Death Certificate to their heads, which immobilizes them long enough for them to be dismembered and/or burned. Not as easy a task as it sounds, trust me. Ng brings some patrons of the restaurant and a lot of guns with him to destroy the vampires once and for all, but it’s never that easy, is it?
What we have here is a combination of a Hong Kong action film with a dash of old school zombie flick (as all the vampires save for the titular God are blinded and slow moving, only able to detect you by your breath) and Evil Dead thrown in, with ambition to spare and a lot of blood to slide around in. God of Vampires, despite its long history, didn’t set out to be some genre-defining motion picture; director Fitz just wanted to make a fun movie with a lot of action and vampires. I’d say he succeeded.
Of course it’s not perfect, but would you expect it to be? There are some pretty strong pacing issues that could be worked out with a few more times in front of an editing deck; it could easily lose about 10 minutes to bring it in at the hour and a half mark. The length it is now wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for scenes that unnecessarily tried to build characters up who just ended up dying anyway, or ones that just dragged for too long, especially since they’re usually intercut with well done action set pieces.
Some of the acting is of indie quality but usually not much worse. Thankfully (depending on your threshold for such things, of course) there aren’t any performances that will make you cringe, save maybe for the boss at the beginning, but he’s dispatched rather quickly. The core group of characters are portrayed by some talented newbies, with an exceptional turn by Wang (the only professional, SAG actor among them) as the wise older man who can kick ass.
Thankfully, the only aspect of the film that betrays just how long it took to make is the blood. Assuming it was shot in some sort of linear order (which I’m almost positive it was), Fitz and his crew only got better at making fake blood as the shoot went on. The first time we see a lot of blood, it is shockingly, alarmingly pink (a la the original Dawn of the Dead), but by the end it’s a nice dark color with a much more realistic consistency. As for the rest of the movie it’s doubtful you’ll notice anything that would normally indicate it took so long to make; a great job was done with continuity.
Years in the making, I’m glad to say that God of Vampires was exactly what I had hoped it’d be: a fun, bloody action/horror hybrid that actually presented us with a different kind of bloodsucker for once (always a good thing) and knew exactly what it was doing. With just a little bit more fat trimmed, this movie would play really well in a midnight movie setting at festivals, and I think horror fans will get behind its do-or-die indie film spirit.
3 1/2 out of 5
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