Sunday, April 4, 2010

Jesus kicked vampire butt for our sins

Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter (2001)
Starring: Phil Caracas, Maria Moulton, Jeff Moffet, Murielle Varhelyi, and Josh Grace
Director: Lee Demarbre
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

When the evil Dr. Pretorious (Grace) and a cult of vampires threaten to wipe out Ottowa's lesbian community, the Savior Himself, Jesus Christ (Caracas), comes to their rescue with blessings, miracles, and ass-kicking, vampire-busting Kung Fu (and a little help from masked Mexican wrestler El Santo (Moffat))!

"Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter" is a film I really, really wanted to like more than I do. In my book, the very concept of Christ returning to Earth to fight vampires in and of itself earns the film Three Stars before it's even in the DVD player!

Unfortunately, the film doesn't quite deliver enough Jesus vampire fighting to really let the premise pay off. The problem lies partly with the filmmakers having Jesus update his "look" entirely too early in the film; for the humor to fully flourish, we need the stereotypical Jesus (with his beard and long hair and Year Zero Middle Eastern robes) kicking vampire butt, but after the first fight-scene, Jesus gets a shave and a haircut, and soon thereafter changes his wardribe to jeans and a black t-shirt. It's a shame, because having Jesus LOOK like Jesus while battling vampires and hoards of Canadian athiests, instead of just looking like actor Phil Caracas on the weekend, would have been so much funnier.

A bigger problem is the overall weakness of the fight scenes. If they have been better staged, this film would be a low Six instead of a low Five. I've seen some sloppily staged fight-scenes in my day, and while the ones in "Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter" don't rank among the worst, there are entirely too many instances where those fighting don't connect. The end result reminds me that I'm watcing people doing "let's pretend" instead of drawing me into the action. Although this is a comedy, and it's supposed to be cheesy, I still would have liked to have seen the fights choreographed with a little more finesse.

The film gets an additional "ding" for several instances of padding--extended scenes of characters meandering around for no purpose. It's not as damaging to this film as it is in other low-budget films where the director seems to feel the need to extend his running length through the cheapest and laziest methods, as at least here we get to listen to some rockin' soundtrack music.

For all my complaints, however, "Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter" entertained me from beginning to end. There are plenty of good laugh lines, and when the film does take advantage of the fact that it has Jesus Christ as the main character, it does so with wit and even respect toward the figure of Jesus. Heck, Jesus even felt like he was "in character" throughout this very odd comedy. The out-of-left-field song-and-dance bit is also hilarious

I think if the multi-million dollar flop that was "Grindhouse" had been more like "Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter" in spirit and in budget, it would have been a roaring success. The TRUE spirit of the old-style exploitation flick can be found here. If you like your movies bizarre and don't mind if they're a little rough around the edges, I think you'll enjoy this film despite its flaws.

1 comment:

  1. I liked this an extent. It is a bit of dumb, escapist fun.

    However, as you said, most of it is pretty crappy and not nearly as funny as it should be.

    The high points would either be Mary talking to Jesus via dessert or Jesus wearing a shirt that says 'Masturbation is not a crime.'