Saturday, November 5, 2011

Movie Review: After Sundown

 In doing my research for this review, I discovered something interesting about this film's production which is definitely more interesting than the film itself.  Texas, in particular Austin, is becoming the Mecca for independent film-makers.  After Sundown is one of those independent films.  It seems that there are actually two versions of this film.  According to someone claiming to be the "Executive Producer/Writer/Director and Editor of After Sundown", Christopher Abram...

 "This is the better version of After Sundown and actually no other version should legally exist. What does exist is an unauthorized illegal version of the movie that the co-director put together with the the D.P. without my knowledge and began to distribute. The co-director did not follow the directions given to him and he was trying to create his own version of the movie and wouldn't listen to the person who invited him in on this project. Thus having a huge conflict in pacing, acting and all around plot. The co-directors version was the one sent to distributors and was promptly turned down due to lack of horror elements, bad music and a convoluted ending."

 Chris goes on to make excuses for the plot-holes, bad acting, and questionable special effects.  I find myself wondering which version of the film I saw, although I have every indication that I am watching the "better" version.
 The film still sucks. 

 Here's the premise.  Back in the Old West, a young lady is engaged and married to an eccentric cowboy.  Daddy had some initial misgivings about his son-in-law; he only comes around at night, he doesn't eat food, he has an off-pallor, etc.  The astute father only makes the connection that his son-in-law is a vampire AFTER the marriage when his daughter gives birth to a demonic baby with claws and pointy-ears!  The townspeople form a posse and dispatch the vampires, burying the three bodies in the desert.

 In modern times, the bodies are discovered when the patch of ground they are buried in is being changed into tract-housing.  The local funeral home takes possession of the woman and child, and the male vampire awakens on his own to go after them.  It is up to the heroine and mortician, Shannon, Mikey the goofy assistant, and Benjamin the tightwad funeral home director, to deal with the vampires. 

 There are several problems with this film.  First of all, it breaks from accepted vampire mythology.  The male and female vampires use their blood to revive corpses who become zombies.  In reality, zombie-making vampires are the norm in fiction, but rarely are featured in films.  In After Sundown, the zombies infect others in the same familiar manner, soon over-running the small town.  Despite the story being about vampires, the film looks a lot like a poorly budgeted zombie-flic.

 The budget restrictions are painfully obvious.  All the special effects are old-school, but lack the creative genius of Evil Dead which took cheap materials to pull-off great effects and instead appear to try to use the best their money could buy ineffectively.  Most of the FX budget for make-up seemed to be put into the male-vampire's costume and face.  The zombies and blood are shoddy by comparison. 

 The plot is full of holes.  The modern-world characters apparently exist in a world where the idea of a vampire is an almost completely alien concept.  A character trapped in a closet uses his cellphone to call someone to call the cops... What, does her phone only dial one number?  The guns all have seemingly unlimited ammunition.  Sunrise and sunset seem to happen at an accelerated pace.  They pay an actress to get topless on screen and only show her back!  She was apparently a modest zombie.

 And those are just some of the highlights.

 The acting is weak, the production values almost non-existent (the DVD cover appears more professional than the film), and at times it seems like the writers and directors are telling the actors to just wing-it.  The cover claims that this is "this year's Dusk 'til Dawn"... but it is a blatant lie.     



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