Song of the Vampire (2001)

vampireresurrection_2AKA Vampire Resurrection

Starring Denice Duff, James Horan, Jillian McWhirter, Frank Bruynbroek, Marilyn O’Connor, Geoffrey Lewis, Julie Michaels, John Mese, Scott Spearman

Directed by Denice Duff

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-movie scale:
twostar


Song of the Vampire is a classic tale of a supernatural being searching for the reincarnation of his lost lover. I’m not sure where this type of story originates from, but I’m most familiar with it from the 1932 film The Mummy and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I’m a huge fan of both of these films, so to say that Song of the Vampire had a lot to live up to is an understatement. But since Song of the Vampire is such a low-budget film, holding it up against two of my all-time favorites would be dooming it to a pit of comparison and utter disappointment. On its own, Song of the Vampire is an average vampire tale that could have been better with a tighter focus.

The most interesting aspect of the film is the idea that in addition to the vampire, Jonathan Travers (James Horan), hunting down Caroline (Denice Duff), her abusive ex-husband, Marty (Frank Bruynbroek), is fresh out of jail and on her trail, too. One pursuer is a supernatural entity that feeds on life, hoping to reconnect with his lost love and be with her forever. The other is a truly evil man with nothing but malice in his heart, completely obsessed with Caroline and literally willing to do anything to have her life back under his control. Both men share a clarity of purpose, and they’re both willing to do horrific things on their way to Caroline. Since this is a romantic vampire tale, Jonathan is clearly intended as the heroic male, but I couldn’t really get into rooting for him. Caroline never asked for either man’s undying, obsessive love, so instead I hoped that she would transcend both of their desires and end the film as a powerful character living on her own.

vampireresurrection_3Song of the Vampire doesn’t delve into the duality between the male characters or the potential feminist angle, and this unexplored potential disappointed me. It’s rare that a B-Movie has such an interesting setup of characters at its core, so to go only halfway with it was frustrating. On top of that, late in the film the abusive ex-husband basically teams up with Caroline’s aunt. Regardless of the obstacles she faces, there’s little chance that Caroline’s loving mother figure would do this with a full knowledge of what this dude has done. Perhaps I’m naive about what an elderly woman would do in the face of a vampire, but it just felt wrong to me.

It’s a shame, too, because other than that, Caroline’s aunt is a great character who fills a Van Helsing-style role in the story. She’s not a scholar or an experienced vampire hunter, but she is a student of the supernatural who dabbles with it regularly. She’s daring, too, going so far as to track the vampire to a cave during the day with the intent of driving a wooden stake through his heart. Auntie don’t mess around! I loved her, so it really tore me apart to see her team up with the ex-husband without any qualms.

vampireresurrection_8Denice Duff’s direction is surprisingly solid for a debut film, but at the same time, the film is filled with numerous instances that make it seem like a rushed, haphazard production (a note at the end of the credits instead suggests it was made as an exercise in having fun). The most glaring issue is the supporting performance of the boom mic. The mic makes his appearance in so many scenes that I lost count, but almost all of them could have easily been remedied with some careful cropping, or a second take. I understand that low-budget films might not have the time or funds to fix these issues, but I would think something as amateurish as a boom mic entering frame would be corrected, especially in the age of digital editing and image manipulation. It’s also possible that the film was intended to be cropped to a 1.85:1 ratio, and the way the image is framed seems to support this. Who knows? It didn’t particularly bother me, but I think for many it would be instant grounds for stopping the movie. Although, if you’re watching this one, you’re probably a pretty hardcore horror/Subspecies fan, so maybe not.

At times atmospheric and alluring, at others amateurish and dull, Song of the Vampire remains interesting for fans of Denice Duff, romantic vampire films and B-Movies. There’s also a surprising amount of effective comedy. I wish it were more fun, but I liked it for what it was. My biggest takeaway is that Denice Duff should have continued directing; she shows a lot of promise, and female perspectives on the horror genre are always welcome and refreshing.

Next time I get around to a Full Moon movie I’ll be watching David DeCoteau’s Prison of the Dead! See ya then!

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