Okay readers, in opening this review of Vampire in Vegas like a dusty coffin, I want to tell you that there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that the film is terrible. The good news is that it’s also extremely enjoyable.
So many horrors we review here at Love Horror are so bad they make us wonder why we love horror at all. Thankfully from time to time a so-bad-its-good film comes along. These shiny, plastic gems light up our lives like a cheap toy from the 99p shop that you play with for one blissful day before it breaks and you have to bin it.
In the same way that Lockjaw: Rise of the Kulev Serpent had me laughing so hard it hurt, Vampire in Vegas is just as cheesy and twice as enjoyable, essentially due to the legend that is Tony Todd.
Todd is Sylvian, an ancient and powerful vampire who has spent an eternity looking for a way to go out in the sun so he can take over the world and bend it to his wicked whims. Now living in Las Vegas – the perfect nocturnal city for him to hide in, he has hired a porn star… I’m sorry a ‘scientist’ to invent a cure for his deadly sun burn.
Using porn stars… I’m sorry ‘lady bloodsuckers’ as test subjects in a failed attempt to cure Sylvian’s curse, the accident draws the attention of the police and who start to investigate into the suspicious spontaneous combustion.
As Detective Stanton and his partner – a porn star… I’m sorry ‘Detective’ O’Hara get closer to discovering the truth behind these deaths and the fanged philanthropist’s secret, unrelatedly three friends on a bachelor party and stumble onto the Sylvian’s club which just happens to be full of porn stars… I’m sorry vampire strippers. Can the idiotic buddies escape the clutches of the deadly vampire vixens? And will the police stop Sylvian before he can attain the ultimate sunscreen?
To be honest you will be laughing so much you wont really care, and this is one of the sadder factors of Vampire in Vegas. Underneath the stupid dialogue and cast – seemingly made up of porn stars both male and female – is a reasonable storyline that given the chance could have been very interesting.
Yes its true that the evil vampire’s hunt for a potion to enable him to become a day walker has popped up in many other horror films. But the added element of a modern vampire who aims to attain power through becoming a U.S governor gives the idea a bit more weight, as well as the fact that the character is played by an African-American
On a slightly serious note, which may seem incongruous to this review of a terrible film, it is definitely the case that black vampires are an underrated and underused idea in horror. With the exception of Blade who one could argue is only half-vampire anyway, black vampires are barely seen. And when they are in such movies as Vampire in Brooklyn and Queen of the Dammed they are usually sidelined as a gimmick or worse still a joke.
The trouble can be traced back to the first ever African-American vampire movie Blacula, a Blaxplotation film which much like Vampire in Vegas is both ridiculous and brilliant. However it revolved around the idea that a black vampire was unusual and exotic a concept which has continued even into today’s horrors.
What elevated Blacula, again as in Vampire in Vegas, was the serious performance of William H. Marshall as the doomed Prince Mamuwalde who added a tragic and theatrical gravitas far beyond the cheap genre movies crazy plot and terrible effects.
Tony Todd does the same with Sylvian from the monologue on his murky past which opens the movie right through to his unconvincing battle with the scrawny bloke from the bachelor party at the very end. Like Rutger Hauer in his many, sometimes terrible films Todd impressively remains utterly convincing and committed to his character throughout, even though the character itself is preposterous and that in my mind is the mark of a great actor in many ways.
Todd also makes the movie infinitely more fun whether he’s prancing around a blood bank in a stupid cape to threatening a scientist with a cat in his car. He seems to be enjoying himself immensely and this makes the audience enjoy the film more too.
From the continuity errors (watch the pink cardigan disappear) to the atrocious special effects, the Z-rate acting and the bonkers yet banal script, Vampire in Vegas is an awful film. But it’s also awfully funny and entertaining. It would be nothing without Tony Todd.