VAMPIRES (2010) – The Dungeon Review!
The problem with vacations is they end. I landed in Vancouver on Sunday and was back to work on Monday. The first day back to work was insane which I was fully expecting but was never the less mentally unprepared for. I am also moving out of the dungeon on August 1 so I will be apartment hunting and packing during the upcoming month. It is going to be some time before I am back doing five posts a week! I apologize in advance as there will probably be no more than two posts per week until the second week of August. So enough of jawing about me…let’s talk Belgium films! I have seen very few horror films from Belgium and there doesn’t seem to be a huge number out there. IMDB lists just 44 titles. I must say I have really enjoyed the ones I have seen from this list. I have reviewed Amer, Calvaire and included Daughters of Darkness on my list of favourite films of 1971. Although Man Bites Dog is not listed as a horror film, the brilliant mocukmentary is one of my favourite films of the 1990s. Vampires, a little known Belgium film from 2010 is also a mocukmentary focusing on one particular family of blood suckers. Vampires is smart, funny and occasionally nasty, and although not without its problems this film deserves more attention.
After several unsuccessful attempts to document a particular Belgium vampire community, one family agrees and manages to get through the process without making the filmmakers a meal. Matriarch Georges, wife Bertha, son Samson and daughter Grace allow the crew to record every aspect of their vampire existence.
I think the horror loving community is experiencing a bit of vampire burnout at the moment; it is a shame to let Vampires fall into obscurity because of it. The film definitely relies heavily on humour. Horror is very much a secondary aspect thrown in occasionally to remind us that these are in fact undead folk who live off of human blood. Being vampires, the family in fact are not blood related. Georges and Bertha are a delightful couple that have a genuine fondness for one another and their “made” teenager children who will forever remain at their current age. Samson is the apple of his mother’s eyes and part time sex partner. Samson embraces his vampireness and mingles well among his peers. Grace on the other hand despises being a vampire. She dresses in pink, wears foundation to darken her white skin, tries to file down her fangs, is constantly attempting suicide and has a human boyfriend. Bertha finds the ordeal mortifying but Georges rather gets a kick out of Grace’s quirkiness believing she will grow out of it. They keep a former prostitute they refer to as “meat” who they feed on nightly. The former prostitute is pleased and honoured by her position in the household. The family are constantly at odds with the childless couple that live in their basement. Childless due to the fact that they can not control themselves from devouring the little ones they attempt to make their family. It isn’t all fun and games being part of the vampire community. There are a number of rules and obligations to be observed. Vampire families get priority housing. Childless vamps are always tenants reduced to living in cramped quarters in basements. There is school for the young vampires, mandatory community events, and strict rules about killing the general populace. Our documented family break one particularly sacred rule (watch the movie) and are ex-communicated to Canada. In Canada the life of a vampire is considerably less carefree and is downright sedate and conservative. Grace and Samson go through some major transformations but Georges and Bertha long for life in Belgium and merely bide their time.
Vampires made me laugh at regular intervals and the strong comfortable performances from the entire cast are very watchable. They generally stick to traditional vampire film lore but do throw in some unique touches that make it stand out among its peers. Keeping in mind that this is a mostly comedic affair, the violence is rare but what they include is effective. There are all sorts of clever little moments like school showings of torture oriented horror films for the vampire students (they laugh at these like comedies!). The first three quarters of the film are just great but the final quarter that takes place in Canada felt a little slower paced and there weren’t nearly as many laughs. Personally, I think they should have left this section out. Overall Vampires is a lot of fun! It has a steady pace, it is well-acted, funny, smart and despite losing a little bit of its mojo in the final quarter is well worth checking out. Recommended.
Dungeon Rating: 3.5/5
Directed By: Vincent Lannoo
Starring: Carlo Ferrante, Vera Van Dooren, Pierre Lognay, Fleur Lise Heuet, Julien Doré, Paul Ahmarani, Thomas Coumans, Alexandra Kamp-Groeneveld, Batiste Sornin