Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lord of the Vampires (2002)

If you’ll indulge me for a moment I’d like to start off this review with a small rant. I know I’m not alone on this issue because I’ve seen the topic come up many times on other blogs and message boards. If you’re a fan of cinema of the more obscure and under the radar nature than there’s a good chance you’re a collector as well. If that’s the case than there’s no doubt you’ve seen some VHS tapes or DVD’s being sold for an absolutely ridiculously high price. It’s infuriating and honestly  quite disheartening to finally find a film you’ve been hunting after for a long time only to discover you might not make rent that month if you buy it. The thing is, there are people who actually shell out absurd amounts of money for these things which only encourages sellers to put a heavy price tag on certain movies. I realize that a lot of the films that go for such high prices are usually out of print and may be valuable but some of the prices I’ve seen some films listed for are just asinine. I know, I know, that’s the way it goes, get over it. What does this have to do with anything? Well, a USED copy of this film on it‘s own, Lord of the Vampires, a USED copy goes for $89.96 and a brand new copy on eBay is being sold for $289.99. Thankfully, Jerry Feifer over at Vista Street Entertainment, the films executive producer and distributor a is a cool guy and I was able to obtain a copy at a price that didn’t result in me having to sell my truck.

In the middle of a convince store robbery a civilian, Amanda, walks in, in effect botching the entire operation for the assailants. In a panic, Larry, the leader of the group of thugs decides to kidnap Amanda and figure out what to do with her later. This isn’t the gangs luckiest night as their van breaks down shortly after leaving the scene of the crime leaving them stranded. Trying to find a phone they go to the nearest house they passed before they broke down. Said residence happens to belong to Viktor, the titular Lord of the Vampires and his two vampire mistresses, Ravenna and Mercy. Thinking this will be an easy meal, Viktor offers the group to stay the night, which they agree. But Amanda has caught the eye of Viktor, and he plans on turning her and making her his third mistress, enraging the already very jealous Ravenna. Meanwhile Larry has plans on looting the house later on in the night, while Ravenna, who is sick of taking orders from Viktor and having to share him, hatches a plan with Mercy to get rid of their master and Amanda during the ceremonial ritual to make Amanda a vampire. However complications arise and things don’t exactly as anybody planned and things get complicated and very bloody, fast.

Lord of the Vampires might have some things working against it, but hopefully you can get past some of it’s stiff acting and other things that I’ll mention later on, because this movie is pretty friggin’ awesome. There was obviously no pretence on the part of the filmmakers, they knew exactly what kind of film they were going to make and they delivered the goods and then some, as right after the opening credits we’re treated to two gorgeous naked bodies on display and minutes later a messy vampire attack resulting in what seems like gallons upon gallons of blood being drained out of the unlucky vitcim, so it lets you know what kind of a movie you’re getting into. It’s a sleazy, violent balls out vampire flick, and it’s an absolute blast to watch. I had a smile on my face for the duration of the whole film.  It might seem a bit slow at first, but there’s some nice build up, letting us to get to know the characters and their personalities. I really enjoyed the Ravenna and Mercy characters. Again, the acting leaves a bit to be desired but their fun characters and their screen time was always enjoyable so it balances out nicely. Plus the  thieves are a pretty interesting bunch, and once Larry and his gang arrive at Viktor’s house however, that’s where the film really takes off. The last 40 minutes or so when Ravenna and Mercy set their sights on Larry, his cohort Steve (the “sensitive” one in the group of thieves who happens to be falling for Amanda as well) and Larry’s girl Denise, and Viktor goes after Amanda are good times all around. Another thing, I’ve seen the film classified as “erotic horror” and I guess that’s pretty accurate as it is sexy as hell, but don’t think “erotic” in terms of the lame sappy “romantic” vampire cliché. More “erotic” like gratuitous Eutotrash flicks of yesteryear, and like those films it embraces it’s sleaziness and makes no apologies for it

Jack Wareing (Viktor) is a total badass. I’ve known this ever since seeing him as the villain in the 2001 thriller Mad Jack, also directed written and by Brad Sykes, so I knew he would make a great vampire, although I’m not so sure about that accent he was trying to get across. He looked the part and has presence to boot, yet this is also where I have to take umbrage with some aspects of the film. Unfortunately, the filmmakers thought it would be a good idea to put pasty white pancake makeup on the vampires and it looks totally corny. I get the reasoning behind it but it does not work at all and I’m really surprised nobody objected to it. Plus sometimes it’s on and sometimes it’s not. While Wareing is still an imposing figure as Viktor, the make up makes him come with a side order of goofiness instead of being 100% threatening. There are a few inconsistencies in the script as well concerning what exactly needs to happen to actually turn into a vampire, and a major part of the finale that will have you scratching you head as to how what you’re seeing is possible, so there are some contradictions when it comes to the vampire mythology department. There’s also some choppy editing early on during the robbery scene. It’s very brief, like literally a split second, but it is noticeable. Had the film not kicked as much ass as it did, these things would probably have bothered me a lot more, but their actually pretty minor inconveniences. Well, except for that damn makeup.

One thing this film does have going for it is gore, and lots of it. Not “Quick, drip some blood on her neck and call it a bite and fast we’re going to DVD tomorrow!” or crappy looking CG either. I’m talking old school, practical gooey make up effects. We get burnt and melting skin, a heart ripped out of a chest, some really nasty vampire bites (Ravenna and Mercy don’t mess around) and a decapitation via bare hands. It’s a bloodbath for sure. Granted, some of the effects are more convincing than others, but they all look cool on screen. Money well spent if you ask me. It was refreshing to see actual effort put into the effects, which isn’t always the case when it comes to low budget features such as this, and to take the old school make up routes earns extra points from me. The film is fairly stylish, and I’ve got to hand it to Sykes because I really wasn’t expecting this film to look as good as it did. The set decorations as well as the lighting were great, lots of red, naturally, Viktor and his mistresses home looked real good as well, defiantly a vampyric vibe, and Viktor’s lair/throne room or whatever you want to call it looked awesome. Loved all the shots of Viktor on his throne looking all vicious. The music is pretty nifty too, mixing rock songs, mostly by the band Abney Park, with some classical thrown in for good measure. I do have to mention that I did geek out pretty hard when some songs from the film Body Parts, an older Vista Street film (review here:, were played later on in the film. I know that means absolutely nothing to anybody but me, but I figured I’d mention it.

Brad Sykes certainly was prolific in the world of direct to DVD during the early 2000’s. Hell in 2002 alone along with Lord of the Vampires he directed 6 other films including Death Factory, which I am interested in seeing at some point on account of Tiffany Shepis being in it, and Witchcraft XII: In the Lair of the Serpent. Other titles of his that you may or may not have seen sitting on a video store shelf if you town is still lucky enough to have one include the previously mentioned Mad Jack (2001), Goth (2003), Bloody Tease (2004) and Plagures (2008). Judging from other reviews of his films they seem to be hit or miss depending on who you ask. He also runs his own production company along with his wife, Nightfall Pictures. Off the 3 films of his that I have seen, Lord of the Vampires easily stands out as the best, and it’s also hands down the legitimately best thing put out by Vista Street Entertainment. It’s rough around the edges in parts, but the entertainment factor far outweighs the majority of it’s shortcomings. Pancake makeup be damned, it’s too much fun. There are two multi-film sets which include Lord of the Vampires, Vamps and Witches, although that isn’t exactly the cheapest either, new or used, and the Ultimate Vampire Collection which is reasonably priced used, but I have no clue what the other films in the set are. Now only if certain jackasses who want to part with their singular copy of the DVD would lower the goddamn price so others who want to check it out can afford to buy it if they want.


  1. Hi. Love the blog. I thought this was a good one. I am a huge fan of Brad Sykes, as well as a lot of SOV movies. My favorite Sykes film is Evil Sister 2. I should probably do a write up of that one sometime. Not sure if you've seen it or not. Thanks for your thoughts.

    1. Thanks! Never seen Evil Sister 2 or the first one for that matter.

    2. They are both sequel in name only, although, they have the concept of a sister who commits heinous acts. I thought part 1 was good, but I like Sykes part 2 better.It has some Franco-esque / Rollin-esque aspects to it. I added your blog to my blog's list. If you are interested in seeing Evil Sister 2, just let me know.

  2. Thanks for the add Tom. Much appreciated.