When 30 Days of Night was released back in 2007 there was a distinct possibility that it would herald a new trend of vampires in art and boost the popularity of the once notorious monster – then somewhat overshadowed in a decade largely defined by Zombie movies and, by association, Bush era trepidation. It was raw, ferocious and unforgiving, taking cues from Near Dark, Nosferatu and its violent comic book source material. The latter influence inspired a new look and feel for the immortal blood suckers, the film presenting them as vicious, bug like creatures rather than sultry androgynous swingers – thus transforming them from sexually charged demons of the night into violent animalistic predators.
Things seemed promising. But as the years rolled on it became quickly apparent that this version of the vampire myth was not going to be the pervading format. True Blood emerged, Vampire Diaries limped pathetically into existence and Twilight happened, blandly and contently providing mass audiences with entertainment of pure mediocrity and suspect moral code. With the exception of Let the Right One In, the general menagerie of vampire based entertainment has been frustratingly substandard and completely forgettable, if largely popular.
But with the Twilight saga coming to a close and inoffensive yet plucky family fare like Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant failing to draw a substantial audience, the end seems imminent for this disappointing non-movement. And it is at this time that low budget monstrosities like Dead Cert and Life Blood attempt to make their mark in a dying and overcrowded market of high gloss studio-fare.
Initially, these movies seem to be one up on the competition, possessing quirkier plots than the mainstream would allow. Dead Cert pitches cockney gangsters against Romanian-vampire-mafia types who are making a play for their turf and channels the work of Guy Ritchie and Nick Love. Life Blood has an even stronger central conceit as it follows a lesbian couple who are lent vampiric super powers by making out with God – yes, you read right – and in exchange must hunt and kill the most sinful creatures amongst men. It nods slyly to the work of Russ Meyer, Herschel Gordon Lewis and, albeit misguidedly, Quentin Tarantino.
Where these films fall apart is in their execution, showing no flare or panache and sideswiping themselves with a total lack of ambition. Both suffer from sluggish and uninspired camera work, lazy plotting and a deaf ear to snappy one-liners – something that could easily turn a bad b-movie into a charming one. What is even stranger is that neither attempt to delve further into their proposed concepts. Dead Cert lazily coasts on its stick thin set-up and Life Blood careers off course entirely, blindsiding its original intentions and pulling itself from the delightful trappings of the chick revenge flick into dull, dialogue-heavy territory.
These are just a couple of examples of the underground failing to challenge the mainstream in any substantial manner. During the same release year of 30 Days of Night, Fist of the Vampire also failed to deliver on its sky high concept and played out like a bad home movie shot by drunk wrestlers and King Diamond fanatics. What upsets the most is that the blandness of Hollywood cinema should have galvanized indie filmmakers into creating inventive and intuitive cinema; the kind that reacts to the unfulfilled needs of an overlooked audience jaded by more popular franchises, films and general entertainment. But it failed to do so.
Ultimately, this has been an exciting trend mostly gone to waste and its potential rewards have been squandered, forgotten, or ignored altogether. In the surprisingly wise words of two idiots ‘Vampires suck!’
Dead Cert trailer:
Life Blood trailer: