ROCKABILLY VAMPIRE: BURNIN’ LOVE (DVD)

ROCKABILLY VAMPIRE: BURNIN’ LOVE (DVD)
2 Stars
Year Released: 1997
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 90 minutes
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Iris (Margaret Lancaster) works a minimum wage job at a retail store in Greenwich Village and is a struggling author who is completely obsessed with Elvis. She just can’t seem to find a publisher who is interested in her book about Elvis sightings. Due to her lack of success, Iris is in serious debt; for one, she owes her obnoxious landlord, Mr. Lawalski (Philip Carroll), a bunch of money for back rent. Lawalski and his slimy son, Benny (Dennis Davies), keep trying to extract payment from Iris in the form of sexual favors; judging by the film industry, this tends to be a problem in Manhattan. Iris is also being stalked by an acquaintance, Lorenzo (Jeremy Klavens), who is obsessed with the Beatles; he wears a wig and a black suit and actually asks to be called Beatle Boy. As if things weren’t bad enough, Iris’ semi-gothic co-worker, Emma (Wendy Walker), is constantly taunting her about her pathetic existence. Life in general is not going so well for poor Iris.

While at work one day, Iris notices Eddie Vincent (a combination between Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent, I’m assuming) outside the store window and in a pathetically obsessed haze almost mistakes him for The King. Eddie (Paul Stevenson) disappears before she can catch him but, as fate will have it, while trying to escape from Lorenzo’s crazed stalking, Iris, literally, runs into Eddie. Unfortunately, the extremely annoying stalking chase scene poorly attempts to recreate the feel of the Beatles movie “Help”. Lorenzo jumps in and out of doorways and pops up from behind a staircase; it’s an excruciating few minutes.

Returning to her apartment one evening, Iris is met by a rockabilly home invasion. Eddie’s vampire brother Wrecks (pronounced Rex) and his charming coconspirators, T-Bone (James Breen) and Greasy (Valentine Miele), grab Iris in her own apartment and demand to know Eddie’s whereabouts. Wielding a bottle of perfume as if it were mace, Iris manages to evade being bitten by the vampire trio and the bullies depart. On their way out, Wrecks (Stephen Blackehart) and his friends bite and kill the landlord, Mr. Lawalski. Despite Wrecks’ threats, being forced to go on a date with Benny and being stalked by Lorenzo (apparently Iris is a hot item in the East Village), it isn’t long before Eddie and Iris fall in love. Eddie confesses to Iris that he is a vampire and an insomniac, but assures her that he has a conscious and really does mean well. Iris is a little unsure at first, but as soon as Eddie tells her that he once spotted Elvis just outside of New Orleans driving through a strip mall in a van, Iris is unable to deny her feelings and she accepts Eddie’s blood-sucking ways. After all, who can resist lines like “Take care kitten” and “I know I’m bad news, Senorita”. Eddie promises to help her find Elvis if she’ll help him locate and eliminate the troublemaker Wrecks. A cheesy montage ensues: frolicking in the park, blowing smoke rings together, sharing a hot dog, drinking from a water fountain. But, just like in “Sweet November” or “The Wedding Planner”, the good times enjoyed in the montage quickly fade and conflict sets in.

Lorenzo will simply not give up on Iris, he stops by her apartment to let her know that he is headed to see Juju the Voodoo Guru who will be placing a love spell on her. Apparently Lorenzo has no concept of the fact that you don’t generally warn people before you have a voodoo guru place a curse on them. While at Iris’ apartment, Lorenzo picks a fight with Eddie, “Roll up for the mystery tour” are apparently fighting words. After Iris is knocked out due to the hubbub, Eddie is forced to take out Lorenzo. The final pathetic Beatle joke is uttered as Lorenzo’s last words are, “Help, I need somebody.” Lorenzo leaves behind one of Juju’s promotional pamphlets and Iris drags Eddie to see the guru in hopes that he can help cure him of his evil vampire ways. In the most irritating scene by far, Juju, who appears to be the son of Little Richard and Dennis Rodman, proves that he has no voodoo powers whatsoever, but, through the use of an abacus and a calculator, derives that it will cost Eddie $27,000 to remove his vampire identity. Eddie and Iris are broke and, unlike New York landlords, Juju the Guru doesn’t accept sexual favors as payment for services rendered; all seems hopeless.

Eddie is soon in desperate need of blood, but he hates the guilt that comes with killing people, so he and Iris grab a couple of guns and red bandanas and rob a blood bank. Eddie drinks the stolen blood, which is apparently tainted and he throws up in Iris’ bathtub. Fading quickly and in desperate need of fresh blood, Eddie’s sad state pushes Iris to allow him to bite her neck and turn her into a vampire. The vampire bite has at least one positive outcome; it finally gets Iris the respect she deserves from her gothic co-worker, Emma, who pressures her to fix her up with a vampire. Mid-conversation Benny shows up with a crossbow loaded with wooden stakes and reveals that he has discovered Eddie is a vampire and he suspects him to be responsible for his father’s demise. Benny demands Iris take him to Eddie, which she does. Eddie immediately knocks Benny unconscious and he and Iris flee the scene. On their way out they spot Wrecks and his gang and, in a typical move, Iris and Eddie run up the stairs to the roof of the apartment building where there is no escape. The vampire couple are soon met by Wrecks, Greasy and T-Bone. Wrecks gives a short but strange speech where he talks in third person and they all battle it out.

“Rockabilly Vampire” has the look of John Waters’ early work, but nowhere near the effect. The acting in the movie is borderline terrible. The performances are amateurish and awkward. While the script is decent, it’s just not strong enough to carry even a b-movie horror film. There are a few too many silly moments that are anything but funny. I could have handled the kooky Beatle’s antics, the cheesy love montage or the irritating voodoo guru, but all three in one movie is a bit too much to stomach. Most of the technical problems with the film aren’t enough to have destroyed a strong script with solid acting; unfortunately, neither is present in the movie. The audio is perhaps the worst part of the low quality film, it’s barely perceivable at times and distorted at others. I love independent films (and Elvis) as much as the next person, but there is rarely an excuse for having to check and see if your AV equipment has crapped out. The best part of the film was the relief that I felt when I realized I wasn’t going to have to invest in a new surround sound system; it was just the movie. If you like Elvis and rockabilly music, “Rockabilly Vampire” is worth a viewing for that aspect alone, but overall it’s a truly forgettable film.



Posted on August 24, 2004 in Reviews by
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