Reviewed By Mel Valentin
Posted 08/01/05 01:38:46

"Vampire hunters in space? Brilliant, absolutely brilliant."
3 stars (Just Average)

With a title like "Bloodsuckers," viewers will immediately surmise (correctly, as it turns out), that the film in question involves vampires. Viewers might not guess, however, that "Bloodsuckers" also attempts to combine a (superficial) science fiction premise, a distant future where humans have colonized outer space and various species of vampires pose an existential threat to colonial ambitions. The title is also a tip off that the producers behind "Bloodsuckers" had less-than-lofty goals. Instead, writer/director Matthew Hastings ambitions are relatively minor, to make a B-level, “R-rated” (i.e., gore- and blood-soaked) science-fiction/horror flick (with C-level actors and a modest production budget) strictly for genre fans. For roughly the first half, Hastings succeeds against expectations, in crafting a moderately entertaining, campy effort spiked with generous amounts of humor, action, and gore. A ludicrous, underwritten, second half plot turn, however, sends "Bloodsuckers" into forgettable cable fodder.

Thanks to helpful voice over narration, the audience quickly learns the backstory behind Bloodsuckers. Sometime in the 23rd-century, humans have gone on a colonizing binge, leaving colonies scattered across the known universe. Unfortunately, they’ve come across another, equally aggressive, warlike species, vampires. These vampires come in different forms and guises, but collectively, none are prone to crucifixes or evince sensitivity to sunlight. Some are blood drinkers, others are flesh eaters (meaning they resemble zombies more than vampires). Still others eat only internal organs. Some are even parasites, using humans as hosts. Some even have primitive cultures. Some of these vampire primitives seem to be fans of Texas Chainsaw Massacre (they wear human skins as trophies). All hunt humans for food, sport, and for revenge.

Enter V-San, otherwise known as Vampire Sanitation (an idea obviously borrowed from John Carpenter’s Vampires, that centered on a church-sanctioned team of vampire hunters led by an irascible James Woods). V-San, headed by fearless (dumb also applies) vampire hunter Nicholas Churchill (Joe Lando), is tasked with tracking and destroying vampires. Churchill’s team includes the tough-talking Rosa Wong (Leanne Adachi), the obligatory cowboy-type, Roman Kuchinsky (Aaron Pearl) who, just in case his role is unclear, wears a cowboy hat, and Quintana (Natassia Malthe), a pale-faced vampire-turned-ally. Churchill also has to contend with a rookie officer with a checkered past (and predictably little grasp of vampire-hunting protocols), Damian Underwood (Dominic Zamprogna). With his relative inexperience and distaste for the job, it seems likely that Damian will be the first team member to fall prey to the vampires (as it turns out, an incorrect presumption).

It’s not until the second search-and-destroy mission (after heavy lifting, exposition wise, that spells out the various subspecies of vampires) that Damian emerges as the central character after abruptly being forced into a leadership position. Of course, Damian has to undergo several trials by fire, which in turn lead to a confrontation with an organized group of vampire marauders, led by Muko (Michael Ironside, in a “paycheck” role if there ever was one). Hastings, however, isn’t content with simply setting up conflict between (and among) the vampire hunters and the vampires. Instead, he illogically adds another layer of conflict, between the hunters and environmentally conscious activists (of the well-meaning, if flawed, variety). That plot development alone, in part because of the howlers the actors are forced to deliver, and in part because of the lack of talent involved (actress A.J. Cook deserves special mention), takes Bloodsuckers from campy, good fun into the realm of the ridiculous and the ludicrous (and it never comes back).

Still, for straight-to-video, cable fodder, there are worse ways to spend (or waste) time. If you’re a non-discriminatory, or generously inclined, genre fan, it’s probably best to catch the unedited version of "Bloodsuckers" (which promises more random gore and blood spray than you shake a fake set of fangs at). That and a completely gratuitous scene involving a (laugh-inducing or cringe-inducing, depending on your perspective) talking vampire slug (a Nosferatii) obviously meant as homage to "Alien" by way of "Spaceballs." And, if you are a fan of the DeLuise brothers (who isn’t?), Michael and Peter, make an appearance (one brother, sporting an atrocious haircut, even has a minor role in the film).

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