Directed by Kevin VanHook
Released by Anchor Bay Entertainment
Ah, VanHook you wacky guy. You make movies that seem like they’re just barely on the cusp of being something truly cool, but there’s always an element or two missing that would elevate it from SciFi Channel original to something fans would actually be able to respect. But keep at it, Kev, miracles can happen.
The latest SciFi Channel original to make it’s way to DVD is VanHook’s Slayer, with the eternally young Casper Van Dien (seriously, the guy doesn’t look any older from Starship Troopers) as a military man whose team runs into a horde of vampires in middle of the jungles of Brazil. Right away at least you have an interesting setting for the tale, but that’s also about where the originality of Slayer comes to an end.
He gets out of the battle with the bloodsuckers, goes home, and then is told he has to go back to rescue his scientist ex-wife (O’Dell) whose there looking for some miracle drug or something. I really didn’t get the motivations and to be honest they weren’t all that important. The point was to get Van Dien back in the jungle so there could be a lot of fights.
If "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" taught us anything, it’s that with vampiric powers comes the ability to kung fu fight, so it’s no surprise that whenever there’s a battle between soldiers and vamps (and there are many), it’s almost like watching a circus performance ... just not as well choreographed. VanHook really needs to either stop with the long drawn out fight sequences or get a better fight choreographer, because most of the throw-downs in Slayer look like something you’d see in a cheap B-movie. Oh, wait...
So what’s the point of the film? Well, there’s a vampire leader who spouts off about how humans have encroached on their land the same way they have the rest of the jungle creatures, so now they’re making their way into civilization and have a sudden lust for power. Said lust is understandable since the ageless bloodsuckers live in caves with bats; not exactly the place you’d want to hang out for all eternity. Who could blame them for wanting to upgrade a bit after all this time?
Slayeris pretty much what you’d expect; a bit dull, full of hammy acting, logic gaps you could drive a truck through, and ridiculously sparse on the special effects. I’m sure Kevin thought he was painting the screen blood red; in reality we get some squirts of blood here and there and maybe an opened throat, but that’s about it. If you’re going to make a cheap B-movie about vampires, at least go over the top with your effects.
Then there’s the vampire leader; for no reason I could identify, other than that he claimed to be the "original" vampire, he transforms into a rather cool looking bat creature towards the end for yet another lackluster fight sequence before being impaled by a stalagmite (or is it stalactite? I can never remember…). This is about the closet we get to a monster and it’s satisfying that at least it’s a real guy in a suit, if nothing else.
Be sure to read The Foywonder’s full review of the film, which is much funnier than mien, right here for more foibles.
On the DVD side there’s really not a lot to speak of. A photo gallery (which should never be considered a "special feature" if you ask me) and a commentary by VanHook and Van Dien are all you get. The commentary is fairly fun and informative, if you’re really looking for more on how Slayer came to be (which somehow I doubt you will) and VanHook comes off a s a really nice guy. Which is why it’d be nice if he could make a good movie for once, damnit. Van Dien’s actually fun to listen to as well, even though he comes off a bit like the jock in high school who was just barely cool enough to say hi to you in the hallway.
And that’s about it for Slayer. It’s too bad Anchor Bay didn’t spend a little more time with features to make the disc more worthwhile; the sparseness of it implies that they were afraid to spend too much on features for a movie they thought no one would buy anyway, or that the strength of the film alone would be enough to carry its sales. Somehow I doubt that second theory. But at least it’s got a cool cover!
2 out of 5
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