21st Oct2015

‘Vampires’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Victoria Hopkins, Angela Zahra, Melissa Advani, Judith Alexander, Jody Baldwin, Bill Fellows, Kristian James, Holly Newton | Written and Directed by Richard Johnstone

vampires-101-dvd

Usually it wouldn’t bode well for a film when a) it has a generic title like Vampires; and b) when you discover it’s actual title is Bloodless, the very opposite of what you want from a vampire movie… Give me flesh-tearing vampires ripping people apart anyday thanks! But, all prejudices aside, I was still willing to give this British scary movie a shot – mainly in part to one of the films stars, Victoria Hopkins, and its producer, Steve O’Brien. Both names whom you probably aren’t that familiar with but both of whom worked on Zombie Women of Satan. A film who – even to this day – it seems like I’m the only fan of (that was certainly the case after its screening at Frightfest in 2009).

Vampires, tells the story of a group of 5 young couples who respond to an advert looking for people to take part in a 30-day medical trial. Arriving at an old castle in an unknown location, they are told that they cannot have any contact with the outside world or they ll forfeit their £20,000 prize money. Confident that they can win, the couples agree to the terms. However, shortly after their arrival, unexplainable events begin to occur within the castle. At first, the challengers dismiss it as a test of their nerves by the organisers but things soon take a sinister turn and the group is forced to fight for their survival…

Unlike other genres, horror is one strand of cinema that is not constrained by low budgets. Anyone with a decent idea, a good script and a camera, can make a movie that will hopefully resonate with a rabid horror-loving fan base. Case in point: Vampires. Obviously filmed on a very meagre budget, I originally gave this film a shot because of the cast and crew connected to it but in the end it was the intriguing, suspense-filled, story that kept me watching – even past the flaws in the production and the often times unbelieveable amateurish performances from some of the cast!

There’s a very British, yet very Etruscan feel to Vampires, helped in part by the superb location – a castle in the middle of nowhere – which provides an inherently unsafe, often spooky, atmosphere without any need to spend the tight production budget. To top it off there’s also a real air of Burial Ground (aka Nights of Terror) about the locale, especially when all hell breaks loose during the final third of the film. Hell, the two movies even share a similar “creepy kid” character too… But that’s not the only influence on this film – this is one movie that definitely wears its inspiration on its sleeve and anyone whose seen their fair share of vampire movies will see, and even hear, things spawned from many a previous fear flick.

Ultimately there’s nothing ground-breaking or even particularly original about Vampires, yet for all its weaknesses I found myself wanting to see just how the film would end and just who would survive this particular slice of vampiric action – even if that meant I had to sit through more hammy acting than a play at a pig farm. Thankfully, I wasn’t to be disappointed, the story, which kept me intrigued throughout the film would, in the end, afford the movie with one of the most effective, and visually stunning, endings to a vampire movie since Near Dark… Surprised? I certainly was!

Vampires, aka Bloodless, is out now on DVD from 101 Films.

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