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Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat

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Despite it's own best attempts to keep it down, like its terrible VHS cover and misguided title, this western with vampires is an absolute must-do and instant classic. Can we finally have peace with the bloodsuckers?

So the premise here is that vampires have been sent into hiding and chose a small town in the west called Purgatory to sit out the years in relatively quiet peace built by Count Mardulak (David Carradine). They've built their own factory to produce a blood substitute so that they don't have to murder anymore and keep their numbers manageable. That's all going well until the Mayor or guy in charge of staffing (?) Ethan Jefferson (John Ireland) hatches a plan to take over the town and return to the old bloodsucking days. Add in a visit from Van Helsing's descendent (Bruce Campbell) and a family of four with a history to the CEO of Vampire Science Co and you've got a volatile situation brewing.

Most times when you have a premise and a vision for a film such as this, you end up with complete failure. The jokes are groan-inducing, the plot gets loose with its own setup, the pacing and the tone shifts from scene to scene and someone (usually a Cameron Mitchell simulacrum or Coolio) botches their entire performance leaving the rest of the cast rolling their eyes at their colleague. None of that happens here. The cast chemistry is tight; it's clear they all had a great time making this. The actors are let loose upon us with no reins. Bruce Campbell is as "Brucey" as he gets outside of his Ash roles. David Carradine is allowed to be both creepy and charming at the same time. M. Emmet Walsh (the lovable Mort) is a show stealer and relative unknowns Morgan Brittany and Deborah Foreman work in tandem with the heavyweights seamlessly. Usually you need someone like Steven Sorderbergh to rangle this many egos and have it work, but director Anthony Hickox manages to get it done somehow.

It's camp is at a 10 but never gets stale or too much. The jokes are hilarious. The action is bananas. The effects are super-cheesy and wonderful. Most importantly, it keeps the gas pedal mashed to the floor for it's run length and never lets off the brakes. I would change not a hair on its wonderfully shaped head and know that this deserves to be a staple in any cult movie collection.

Individual Ratings:

Over the top action:4-star
Cheesy effects:4-star
Horrendous acting:3-star
Ridiculous stunts:3-star
Gratuitous nudity:0-star
Memorable one-liners:2-star
Nonsensical Plot:2-star


Overall Ratings:

Good Movie Quality: 4-star
Bad Movie Quality:8-star

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Sunday, 25 February 2024

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