When Troma titles one of their films Sucker, you have to suspect they don't mean the vampire, but whoever is dumb enough to pay actual money to see films from Troma.
I loved the first Toxic Avenger (1984), as do most B-horror fans, but for most Troma films, I just can't adjust my expectation down to none at all for story or acting; the "filmed in three days of single takes!" bad cinematography, joky effects, & slipped on a blood-smear instead of a banana peel level of comedy.
For me these are insufficient to make effective movies. Yet to expect more than that from Troma is 19 times out of 20 expecting way too much. The Troma philosophy has always been, "If you can't make them good, make them funny," but I'd like even a slapstick horror movie to be well acted if only for the sake of comic timing.
Yet reviews of Sucker (not just the ones in its favor, but even the ones that declared it "the worst vampire movie ever") made it sound slightly promising.
And I was indeed a sucker for the idea of Vanessa Van Helsing carrying on the family business of vampire hunting. So I rented the damned thing, & five minutes into the film began to suspect I'd wasted a couple bucks.
For the first half hour, this film could not hold my attention, it truly did suck. A rock performer vampire (Yan Birch, who I have to admit is not that bad an actor by Troma standards) drains groupies to death then his Igor-like henchman Reed (Alex Erkiletian) takes the dead bodies home, dresses them up in leather gear, & fucks them.
Meanwhile the soundtrack plays horrible rock tunes (but the Leonard Cohenesque final tune was actually very, very good). Except possibly for Birch, the actors are so amateur, the plot so insipid, the sexploitation so dopey, I actually began to clean the house while it was playing.
But a third of the way in, the main characters began to click. It wasn't so much that I'd gotten used to how bad the acting was, but the story did quite suddenly shift into a new & better direction.
The rocker vampire Anthony killed Van Helsing (she'll be back!), who as she dies promises Anthony that she has after all won -- because she had AIDS.
The cliche "vampire sucks AIDs sufferer!" is one that fiction editors were seeing from every unpublishable would-be writer of vampire tales in the 1980s & 90s, so it certainly wasn't a good nor original plot angle.
However, in this case, the disease made the vampire unable to process blood & Anthony ceases at that time to be a predator. And that's the point where the film actually has to start telling a real story instead of continuing with the standard & redundant schlock horror scenarios.
From this point on there's no more groupies for him, he has to stay home & slowly waste away from starvation. He becomes dependent upon his necrophiliac henchman, & even gains an affection for Reed, like a witch for her black cat.
For the rest of the film the issues are almost serious, by Troma comedy standards at least: Can friendship transcend vampirism? Can a necrophile overcome his deviance & find true love with a warm living woman, the only person on earth who will sing "Weem-a-wetta" with him?
Or can the groddy Mother Vampire convince a pathetic geeky fat necrophile to join the worldwide family of vampires & live forever & never be lonely again, or will he make the attempt for life & love? Can a depressed & very sick vampire find eternal rest, or is he destined to waste away into semi-conscious paralysis & be buried alive like Momma promises?
Again "by Troma standards" all this is almost an intellectual satire rather than the usual slapstick, & after a while even the bad acting begins to look rather stylish, as though these actors came from some seriously good comedy studio skilled at tragi-comedy, instead of from some tenth-rate junior college acting class skilled at nothing.
Tromaheads will love it to pieces as it has everything good and bad that Troma films usually are, but it has this additional underpinning of half-serious characterization & real emotion. When necrophile Reed hugs the dying Anthony & declares him the best friend anyone ever had, it's almost worth a little tear for their plight.
Continue to the next vampire film:
Vampire Hunter (2004)
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl