Monday, April 14, 2008

The Vampire Conspiracy - Review

The Vampire Conspiracy

When dealing with B movies, especially B horror movies, one must almost always take to heart the old saying of "Don't judge a book by its cover." Except the saying has the opposite intention. It always seems that the most money these types of B movies spend on something in the movie is always the artwork for the cover. This movie sounds from the description and the DVD cover like a decent movie you'd watch if it was on the Sci-Fi Channel. However, once you view the first few scenes you know you've been screwed over and almost lied to.

This plot is a dumbed down version along the lines of the "Saw" series or the "Cube" series. The "Cube" series is a B movie series, and a good one in my opinion, but this movie is worse than "Cube" but is still considered a B movie. I don't want to start calling movies C or D movies were the B movie looses all its meaning. I just wanted to make that clear that you can't judge and compare B movies without context.

Five strangers are abducted and put into a room together. They start out, like any of these types of strangers-abducted-and-put-into-the-same-environment goes, trying to figure out who the others are and why they are there. A 250 year-old vampire shows up and informs them that they are in a maze of his making. If they survive and make their way out of the maze, those left alive will receive the vampire's entire fortune. As they go from room to room they are given clues to help them what path to take. Not only do they have to decipher the seven word clues given to them but they must also fight off and/or escape from the vampire's undead army. Why were these people chosen? Will any of them make it out alive? Do you really care?

Ok so the end of my plot description makes the story sound sort of anti-climatic. In one sense it is. This is the same old story of a "Saw" a "Cube" and the 1999 version of "House On Haunted Hill"...but with vampires! However, on the other hand, this is a very low budget movie compared to any of those other movies. I'm never one to rag on a B movie for lack of picture and/or sound quality. I give each movie a fair shake. Yes, it would be nice if everyone could shoot movies with the same equipment that big, Hollywood pictures shoot with, but I think you'd loose some of the charm of these movies. "Saw 4" might have had a full blown autopsy scene, but you have to laugh at how much money they spent compared to some movies who use just some hamburger meat, red food coloring, and other sorts of fake internal organs and effects. I appreciate the charm of such techniques.

The main problem I had with this movie was more the set itself. This movie appears to have been shot in an old motel that's been converted into an independently run haunted house that pre-teens visit for Halloween with their dates who were all dropped off by their parents. It really is a weird look to a place for a vampire who has such "unimaginable wealth". If I had 250 years worth of interest in the bank, my death chamber would at least be decent looking. You don't have to go with the old gothic, dungeon-esk scene. You can really modernize it or put your own spin to it. However, it's kinda hard to be scared in what looks like an old, rundown motel.

Grade - D-
B Movie Grade - C

This wasn't the worst movie I've ever seen but it definitely did have some big problems with it. This reminded me a bit of movies such as "Saw" and "Cube" a bit. Too bad it didn't push more into those types of story ideas. My biggest problem with the movie is the over use of the f-word. This movie sticks it in between every other word. It's not the only over used curse word in here but it definitely was the word most used. Another problem was that the ending made no sense at all, there is no conclusion and it ends up making the rest of the movie utterly pointless. The thing that bumps this up in the "B Movie Grade" comes from the attempt to tie all the characters in the movie to each other. The people in this movie find out later that while being chased by a horde of the undead, there is someone they are traveling with that, in someway and for some reason, want them dead. It's a nice try for the movie. This movie should really teach you to read the script to your movie after you binged on pot, coke, and beer before you shoot your movie.


Five Strangers Films Ltd said...

I've read you review on 'The Vampire Conspiracy' and I must say, that I think you've been overly harsh at this film and as a reviewer.

I understand that it is micro-budget, and I there is no illusions at the kind of film that it is, but I think you totally missed the charm of the story-line. The ending makes perfect sense, and the story certainly has all it's duck in a row.

Could it be that you're just not as sophisticated as the movie's plot?

You mentioned that we should have refrained from the pot smoking before they made this, but what it really sounds like is that you're the kind of reviewer that doesn't look at all aspects of the production and likes to bitch unless the film has the production value of Iron Man. Which in that case, you're not a reviewer, you're a film elitist just needed to find fault with people's work.

As a reviewer (and even granted we're just on your blog) you have a responsibility to the industry - with that being said, you don't have to like the movie but to berate the filmmakers is kind of bad form or low class.

I understand no one is paying you for your review, but to attack a movie so you can feel vindicated and show your friends that you have an opinion and you hate stuff is a little self absorbed. What you need is a little self worth.

I suggest you try to watch films with an open mind and try to find something nice to say about something. It's certainly alright to point out faults, but you to be respected as any kind of authority, you need to take your attitude out of the equation.


Film Geeks said...

Hey Marc, thanks for the comments. I love bad movies, I really do! The more stupid the better in my opinion, but there has to be a line. For example, if you read my review on "Alien Conspiracy", I couldn't find anything enjoyable about it. However, if you read my movie review of "Cannibal Campout" you would clearly see that even low production value means nothing in my opinion. The same goes with my review of "Uncivil Liberties". So I believe you make too many generalization that you claim I make.

Also, in my other reviews dealing with B movies I distinctly say that production value makes no difference to me. So no, Iron Man can keep its money and that doesn't make for a good movie anyways. My main example is Kevin Smith's first film "Clerks". It was made for only around $20K but it was highly entertaining and he just had the barest of film making education.

Also, I have no responsibility to the industry. I respect the people who go out of their way to make an effort and put their head on the chopping block. But the professional reviewers are the ones that people are moving away from because they do coddle to the industry. More people are moving towards people like "The Triple Feature" and normal people like myself.

To assume I write this movie to impress my friends is kind of an elitist attitude. I write these reviews so that if someone is curious about seeing one of the films I have reviewed they can see what they're getting themselves into. That's why in my reviews I don't have too many spoilers, so that way, even after reading my review, if they want to still see it, they can without blaming me for ruining it.

Also, if I want to be respected as any kind of authority I would expect people to read my reviews with the same open mind of this being just one persons opinion who a) doesn't work at all in the industry in any aspect and b)who just likes movies. I think those are the same qualifications I think people are looking for.

So thanks for making a movie that I gave a "C" to, which means I liked it in someway (which I did say a few nice things about it, while at the same time I don't think pot heads make movies like this but was my attempt at humor) and I hope you have a lot of success. If you make any other movies I'll probably watch them...and review them with the same open mind as I have had.

Andrew said...

I will agree with you on one point: The F-word was used a lot. That said, I (unfortunately) know quite a few people who use it that extensively in everyday language. I can not imagine how often they would use it if they woke up to find themselves prisoners in a house of vampires.

As for the rest of the movie, I think your review is way off. The idea was obviously to try to keep the set costs down so as to make the movie in the first place. Making a B movie isn't, as you admitted, big budget, so it would seem logical to me that any director/screenwriter worth his/her salt would try to make their B movie with a set that is easy and cost-effective.

Furthermore, the tying together of the characters was well-done. Yes, perhaps similar things have been done with "Saw" and "Cube", but why does that mean it can not be done again? Countless movies are copies of other, more successful movies of the same genre.

That said, this, to me, was a Grade A "B movie". The characters were believable and the acting was, with some minor exceptions, strong. The story kept me guessing and threw in enough surprises to keep my attention.

I am not sure why you hated this movie so much, or why you did not understand the ending. My guess is that you went in with a preconceived notion one way or the other - either you expected it to blow you away and were disappointed, or you were expecting crap, so you caught every little mistake, no matter how inconsequential to the storyline. Perhaps the f-word usage put you off and you could never get past it.

I don't know, but I do know that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Film Geeks said...

Hey Andrew thanks for visiting the site and leaving a comment. I do think the F word was used too much...and that's about all I can agree with what you had to say. If you read my review you'll notice I didn't even attack them on using low budget stuff, like set and camera work. I kinda like that sort of stuff. As for the rest of what you've written, you've really made too many generalizations of what you think I was thinking and you're way off.

I go into every movie as open minded as I can and I realize that not everything has to be original or look stunning. So I judge the work based on itself and nothing else. Also you're statement of "so you caught every little mistake, no matter how inconsequential to the storyline" is exactly the kind of thing we like doing here at Film Geeks. For example, we talked about in our podcast about the movie "Wall-E" and we questioned how kids were still being born and if robots also did "that work". So we look into all aspects of the storyline because a believable one will have limited hick ups like that.

Anywho, thanks again for visiting and reading!

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