Friday, August 9, 2013

Rare Flix: Sundown- The Vampire in Retreat

Why must you be so rare?  I will say this again- I really like Anthony Hickox.  Granted- his more recent filmography- including Seagal film Submerged- is not all that much to brag about.  Like other great Directors like Wes Craven and John Carpenter, he had a really good run that gives him a lot of leeway.  This was the film he made between the two Waxwork films and it unfortunately got very little fanfare.  It's implied that that film's release was undercut by the company behind its release- Vestron- was going to under around the time that this came out.  That probably didn't help, huh?  Regardless, the film has Bruce Campbell and David Carradine in it, so it's got enough star power to get a good DVD release.  I continue to hold out hope that films like this or Waxwork will get a Criterion Collection Release, but this will do for now.  The film tells the tale of a town of Vampires called Purgatory that invites some humans in for a job.  Unfortunately, tensions are brewing and shit is about to go down.  To get a mostly SPOILER-free glimpse, read on...
The town of Purgatory is a nice, far away place in Utah.  The people are nice and will never give you the back of their hand...
...but if they do, it will knock your head off!

So yeah, these Vampires have super-strength.  I've seen a film where Dracula shoots fireballs, so nothing phases me at this point.
Our heroes are a family led by the patriarch, who just happens to be a scientist who made a machine that can create artificial blood.  When it stops working right, they call him in to fix it.

None of this is suspicious to you?  None of it?  At all?  Okay then.
Bruce Campbell is here playing Van Hels...Van Hels- that's it.  He shows up to find Count Mardulak, the town's Leader.  But why?  I won't say...but you'll probably guess.
Speaking of which, Carradine is Count Mardulak.  You'll never guess who he really is.

No, he's not Alice Cooper.  He just also happens to sleep in a coffin like that!
Jeremiah (John Ireland) and Shane- well, this is a Western- are plotting behind Mardulak's back.  What their secret weapon is turns out to be cool...but implausible.  Seriously, Mythbusters pretty much touched on this at one point, albeit for a different reason.
Mardulak and Van Hels face-off.  Who will win?  Who will lose?  Wouldn't you like to know?
Who are our heroes pointing a gun at?  What is the guy's motivation?  Well, I will say this: he is a Vampire.
It comes down to a quick draw contest between the two Elder Vampires.  May the best Vampire win.

To find out who it is, watch the movie.  The End.
Everything about this is pretty damn cool.  Sundown is not a perfect film, but it deserves far more attention than it has gotten.  It is part Vampire film, part Western and part Comedy.  Is there another film that fits that bill?  Possibly, but I can't think of it.  The Cast is great, including Ireland, Carradine, Campbell and M. Emmet Walsh.  Bruce says in an Interview on the DVD that he took the film since he spent all of his money trying to get funding for The Man With the Screaming Brain.  He didn't care what the Script was- they were paying.  He lucked out, even if he had to film the movie in the Utah Summer.  The fact that they shot a Vampire film in the 'Mormon Homeland' is just an amusing bonus.  If you haven't seen this film, give it a look.  You may not be sure what the hell it is, but you'll probably going to like it.  If nothing else, enjoy this girl's poster selection- which includes Waxwork, Dracula A.D. 1972 and Theater of Blood...
Next up, a Criterion Collection film about Los Angeles.  Will it be even better if it has characters at proper scale?  Stay tuned...

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