Horrorfest Presents Day Shift (2022, J. J. Perry)


Day Shift may be a dumb vampire action comedy movie that should have leaned more into supporting unions. Still this is my dumb vampire action comedy, and perhaps I shouldn’t expect a pro union message from a company like Netflix. Jamie Foxx does his best with some weak material that he helps elevate along with Dave Franco. This movie needed more Snoop Dogg, not less, although that is quickly rectified in the final act of the movie.

Karla Souza is actually pretty good as the head vampire Foxx’s hapless character has to deal with. I did like the action scenes in this movie, and I was amused by how the vampire hunters’ covers are day jobs such as pool cleaner or video stereo repairmen. That part doesn’t really get fleshed out enough. I would have loved to have seen more of the universe presented in this flick. Guess they’re saving that for the sequel.

Horrorfest 2017 Presents: Fright Night (2011, Craig Gillespie)


Hear me out on this: I like the original Fright Night a lot. It is one of the quintessential horror movies of the 1980s, and a very wonderful original vampire movie. Despite this I still slightly, ever so slightly, prefer the remake. Usually folks are aghast when you tell them you think a remake is better than the original, even when there are a good number of remakes that are easily better and some are among the best movies ever made. I now know how a certain Mail Girl on a certain streaming site feels when she admits that she prefers the remake. The modern Fright Night though is just as creepy and eerie as the original, and I really dug some of the changes they made which thankfully resulted in a movie that isn’t just a paint by the numbers flick only with a modern finish.

The cast for this helps a lot, as the late Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Toni Collette, David Tennant and Imogen Poots form the main cast. It also helps that Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Dave Franco also show up, although Franco isn’t given a major part and Mintz-Plasse unfortunately disappears for a good chunk of the movie. Craig Gillespie decided to make Farrell more as a sleek monster vampire who charms every one else around Yelchin’s Charley while threatening the young man and giving him one warning before deciding to wreck his life. The fears of suburbia hiding awful things manifests itself again in the remake, and I really dig how this movie was shot in terms of color schemes and the feeling that night was always present or just around the corner.

Plus David Tennant is utterly hilarious in this movie as Peter Vincent, and he almost steals the movie right out from under Farrell. It helped to cast an excellent actress and horror veteran in Collette as Charley’s mom, and Poots is actually pretty good in the thankless supportive girlfriend role. Despite being really cheesy at times and lacking some of the elements that made the original so effective, this is a pretty good remake and definitely is one I would like to watch again. I also need to track down the 1980s sequel to the original and create my own marathon featuring all three movies.

Horrorfest 2017 Presents: Blood For Dracula (1974, Paul Morrissey)


Udo Kier hams it up as Dracula in Paul Morrissey’s outlandish and very gory camp filled cult flick Blood For Dracula, which is definitely a unique take on the old legend. This wasn’t a particularly good movie yet I still oddly liked it anyways and I enjoyed the movie’s wilder aspects. I mean how can one not laugh at Dracula puking up blood simply because he can’t get virgin blood. That part is both grotesque, campy and fits the movie all too well.

Plus Morrissey even throws in a neat commentary about Dracula being the aristocracy verus the Marxist manservant Mario (Joe Dallesandro). The final act is utterly frantic and properly gory for a vampire movie. Parts of this movie felt like a softcore porno flick, the rest is Euro style horror trash that is passable enough entertainment. Definitely not like the other vampire movies from this era, that’s for sure.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Habit (1997, Larry Fessenden)


Habit and The Addiction would make for a good indie movie 1990s vampire in NYC double bill. Habit is more indie movie than The Addiction though, and despite some rough edges it is a really good movie. This works as both a drama and a horror film, depicting a young man’s slide into alcoholism and entering into a corrosive relationship with a mystery young woman. Who may or may not be a vampire, which the movie does hint at midway through.

Sam is dealing with his father’s death and his girlfriend breaking up with him at the same time. He ends up going out with a mysterious woman Anna (Meredith Snaider), who could be evil. Or at least destructive, since she doesn’t curtail his drinking and she keeps bitting him. That’s not normal, is it? Only if you’re in denial I guess.

Even though this isn’t a great movie, Habit still is really good and definitely has it’s share of eerie moments. My favorite part is when Sam and his friend run out into the ocean, cold weather be damned! This movie has a lot of little moments that work and add to the film’s overall aesthetic. Larry Fessenden is actually a really good, natural actor for a director and Snaider gives off some fantastic eerie vibes as well. Sometimes when you meet a strange woman at a party, the wise thing to do is run the other way.

2019 Horrorfest Presents: Thirst (1979, Rod Hardy)


Rod Hardy’s Thirst (not to be confused with the modern day vampire movie with the same title) is equal parts Soylent Green and Hammer Films vampire movies put together in one over the top, marvelous package. Chantal Contouri headlines a cast that also includes David Hemmings and Henry Silva as part of a cult that is obsessed with a woman that is descended from Elizabeth Báthory. They want to turn her into a vampire just like Báthory! What you have is rooms full of giant blood vats, an opening that is rather startling, and a conclusion that left me a tad confused. This movie also gave me some David Cronenberg vibes, and I wonder if it further influenced him as much as it was seemingly influenced by him (I was reminded of Rabid quite a bit-which not a bad thing). Anyone who knows me well can attest to my love of cult cinema and strange B-movie oddities, and this movie fits into both categories.

There was parts that did bore me at times, and the fact that Kate keeps trying to escape only to be recaptured became a bit overplayed. However I still liked how the movie never stopped trying to shock her or the audience. The blood shower scene would be at home in any horror movie, and the part where she witnesses the cult members feeding is creepy and very memorable. The cast really helps with some of the thinner material, particularly Hemmings and Silva. Contouri also gives an excellent performance, as she is the movie’s anchor-you sympathize with her while also thinking “Hey she might give into all this madness.” Conformity in society is a powerful thing, and in the hands of the wrong people it can be easily weaponized.

Horrorfest 2019/It’s Hammer Time Presents: Vampire Circus (1972, Robert Young)


After years of making vampire movies that conclude with the heroes killing the vampire plaguing their home town, Hammer Studios decided to make a film that shows what happens after the townspeople win. Vampire Circus is a fairly solid picture, one that lives up to its own expectations. I liked that the townspeople are still haunted by the memory of the evil Count Mitterhaus, and that they fear his return. Into the midst of a disease that is tormenting the village a circus arrives, and of course they bring trouble because this is a Hammer film. Even the circus is evil, and in this case is hiding secrets that will all be revealed in due time, viewers.

As a big fan of Doctor Who it was fun to see Lalla Ward playing one of the circus people, and Thorley Walters playing the mayor, as he was in multiple Hammer movies as well. I like that Hammer Studios often used the same actors in different films, and naturally Vampire Circus has a good amount of gore. One particular stand out kill is a cross being thrown onto a vampire, and also a crossbow is used to rather gruesome effect. Even though Vampire Circus is not top tier Hammer, it is still worth a look as being an entertaining vampire movie. These kinds of films have a quality that is lost in this day and age.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: Vampire In Brooklyn (1995, Wes Craven)


Lost in the discussion about Wes Craven’s career is that he engaged in comedic moments in many of his horror films. One such movie was Vampire In Brooklyn, a rather entertaining and fun horror comedy that has some good funny moments and even a few scares. Eddie Murphy in a rare horror movie role stars as a vampire seeking a cop played by Angela Bassett, who happens to be half human and half vampire. Without her the line of vampires from the Caribbean will finally die off. This movie has some decent homages to previous vampire films, and is also Wes Craven’s own take on the sub genre.

Much like some of his other films Craven presents social and political commentary. Murphy turns into a preacher and manages to convince an entire congregation that they should turn to evil. Unfortunately considering the hate many so called Christians push today such a moment is relevant and also darkly humorous to a degree. Also you have the police failing to comprehend and understand what they are dealing with, another theme that is prevalent in not only Craven’s work but also in many horror movies. I rather like how Craven is able to balance humor and horror, two genres that are tricky to get right.

Also it’s cool that he cast Zakes Mokae as a vampire hunter, since he was a horror veteran and he was great in The Serpent and the Rainbow, another Craven film. John Witherspoon and Kadeem Hardison provide additional comedic relief, yet it is Bassett who gives a strong performance and has superb chemistry with Murphy. It’s too bad that Eddie Murphy only made one horror film as he has a menacing presence. Despite its flaws this is an good, solid movie and is an example of how vampire movies contain views on society, religion and repressed feelings.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: Immortality/The Wisdom of Crocodiles (1998, Po Chih Leong)


Made before Jude Law became famous, Immortality is a film that I decided to watch after looking through the horror selection of Netflix Instant Viewing and deciding “Hey this looks interesting.” This is as much a monster movie as it is a vampire film, although Law’s seemingly normal doctor kills his prey in the manner of the vampire so it counts. He has a strange disorder that requires not just blood but also the emotions of his victims; therefore he fests only on women who he meets by pretending to being a charming stranger. The problem he encounters is that he finds a woman that he likes from the beginning: in turn he starts to experience feelings of love that complicate his ability to feed and survive. If a vampire falling in love with a human and not killing her sounds familiar, well that forms the basis of the Twilight series. While I’m not sure that a series I really despise ripped off this movie, it wouldn’t shock me. Anyways Innocent Blood from 1992 really did the whole “Vampire and human fall in love bit” even earlier, and I’m sure there is another film that also covered a similar subject.

However in this case Law’s Steven has bigger problems: the police are on to him after a couple previous “girlfriends” died mysteriously, and there happens to also be a menacing gang of street toughs. He is forced to protect Anne from such thugs in a scene that is funny yet also kind of cool. Apparently being a vampire means you know how to fight, although perhaps Steven like most vampires has enhanced powers. Still that’s not even the highlight of the film-I much prefer the scene where Steven and the cop pursing him, Inspector Healey (Timothy Spall) discuss the nature of evil and what it takes for someone to lie to people, to be a truly horrible person. A moment like makes this film more above the typical level of a vampire film, and not enough of them properly flesh out or even dare to humanize their main vampire characters.

Tragic, romantic, and actually creepy, Immortality was a pleasant surprise during my Horrorfest viewing. Elina Löwensohn is a natural as Anne, a woman clearly in over her head yet refusing to give up Steven despite her judgment telling her otherwise. This film has a sense of both style and grace that is intoxicating and engaging, mediating upon the nature of the beast and the beast’s interactions with others. I also much prefer the other title The Wisdom of Crocodiles because it fits the movie better and is a more accurate representation of what the film is truly about. Particularly since at times Steven has the manner and habits of the crocodile, a great watery reptile that lurks in the reeds, waiting to pick off its dinner at the most opportune moment.

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