Monday, November 12, 2012

Strange Things Happen at Sundown (2003)

Pack: Tomb of Terrors
Disc: 3

Subgenre(s): Vampires, Comedy

Year: 2003

Rated: Unrated
Length: 138 minutes

Director: Marc Fratto
Writers: Steve Gonzalez, Marc Fratto
Starring: J. Scott Green, Jocasta Bryan, Joseph DeVito

Synopsis: What happens when normal people find they need to kill, in order to survive? This is the story of such a group of people, suddenly turned into vampires, and carving a path of blood and mayhem throughout New York City. Slowly, they lose their grip on reality, and turn into an army of anti-social, psychopathic misfits; and surely, they turn on each other.


"Waddya mean there are no oranges in dis film?"

"Thirsty... sooo thirsty..."

"I'm telling ya. There's not even a blood orange in this film."

Eric Draven sure looks different.

Review: Strange Things Happen at Sundown is an ultra low-budget piece of B movie trash that tries to be an amalgam of mafia movies and vampires. It's quite entertaining, but the same idea was done much better and more compactly in John Landis' Innocent Blood.

Although not a complete waste of two and a quarter hours, Strange Things Happen at Sundown is sometimes tedious, and the various elements lack cohesion. The acting is inconsistent, and the overly ambitious camerawork shows how not to make a movie that you want someone else to ever watch. Actually employing a lighting technician may have helped in a lot of places.

Strange Things Happen at Sundown also tries so hard to sound like The Sopranos but with even more choice expletives that most of the time you can forget that it's a vampire movie at all. These vampires go about quite happily in daylight so the "sundown" in the title is a bit redundant. Strange things seem to happen any time they damn well want to without anyone noticing or calling the police.

The main couple, Marcel (J. Scott Green) and Amy (Jocasta Bryan), are more like Kit and Holly from Badlands (1973) or Mickey and Mallory from Natural Born Killers (1994) than traditional vampires. They aren't particularly likeable, but they are considerably more interesting than either of the two vampire assassins who are stalking them.

The cosa nosferatu, on the other hand, are stereotypical and provide arguably too much comic relief in an otherwise quite serious movie. Jimmy Fangs (Joseph DeVito) has some good lines, but Joey the Butcher (Joshua Nelson) really steals the show and adds a volatile Joe Pesci quality to the proceedings.

Despite the seriousness being more noticeable once they've disappeared, the gangsters aren't the worst offenders for changing the tone of the movie. There's a lot of Tarantino-esque mixing of genres throughout which barely worked in Pulp Fiction (1994) and certainly doesn't gel well here. A certain scene with The Reaper (Steve Gonzalez) and his wife is hilarious but really jumps the shark.

One of my biggest criticisms of Strange Things Happen at Sundown concerns the death scenes of victims. They are extremely bloody, but they are dragged out to such an extent that they get rather boring and repetitive. Once or twice would have been enough for all that writhing and excessively loud screaming.

On the plus side, Strange Things Happen at Sundown is stylistically very different to most vampire movies. These vampires are nasty and brutal, not all brooding and wimpy like the majority that I've seen recently. There are also some very attractive girls throughout who don't wear too many clothes. Either someone had a leg fetish or there was a sale on uber skimpy knickers at the time. I'm the last person to complain about any of that even though there's only one topless scene.

Strange Things Happen at Sundown attempts to be a quirky but still serious vampire movie although too many comic moments (some unintentional) do make you wonder what the intention is at times. It's also way too long.

Most Memorable Moment(s): The Reaper's wife having a meltdown.

Originality: Innocent Blood (1992) did most of it first.

Best Line(s): "Unbelievable. Two of my guys dead, and I've got the Thompson Twins watching my back!"
Worst Line(s): "Imagine being able to smell someone's blood from their skin."

Best Effect(s): The fangs and all the blood.
Worst Effect(s): The vampire surgeon "operating" on a victim's belly near the end.

Goriness (out of 10): 7
Sexiness (out of 10): 3
Profanities (out of 10): 9

Hottest Actor/Actress: Gina Ramsden as Cynthia.

'80s Goth chicks are hot!

Picture Quality: Average but VHS quality and dark
Audio Quality: Average

Rating (out of 10): 5


IMDb or Wiki:

Final Thoughts: An epic vampire movie which lacks cohesion.

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