Horror filmmakers educate audiences by exploring humanity’s dark side. From Tod Browning to David Cronenberg, they enable us to analyze our decisions and understand our emotions. They entertain us. But they also reveal painful truths. For instance:
If you are unhappy with the Sega Genesis game that you got for Christmas, Santa Claus will rip out your eyes and eat them.
Welcome to the guiding light of Night of Vampyrmania.
Shot with a camcorder somewhere in France, this two-and-a-half-story anthology could have originated on the back of a ninth-grader’s geometry homework. It feels like it’s stuck in a limbo between puberty and a loss of virginity. This is the kid who is aware that things are changing, but refuses to give up his Lego collection. All he wants to do is enjoy and not think about grown-up stuff. While many people would prefer to forget that awkward age, Night of Vampyrmania embraces it. That’s what makes this movie so much fun to watch.
A priest drives a Volvo through the woods. He stops and addresses the camera: “Watch carefully the following movie! It says a lot about the damage that vampires cause!”
This point is proven in “Red Christmas.” The cannibalistic murderer known as Santa Claus has unleashed his fury on Christmas Eve. After crushing the heads of some street thugz, Santa crashes a party. But before doling out more gifts, Saint Nick observes the guests. A guy repeatedly yells, “There’s not enough meat for dinner!” Another guy dances like Crispin Glover in Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter and his girlfriend goes topless. An aggravated war veteran shows up and shares his gory war stories by screaming at everyone. Soon, Santa has had enough! He removes a man’s brain and throws it on the ground. He smashes a woman’s head with a fruit cake. There’s also a zoom-filled fork-stabbing that was probably influenced by Sam Raimi. And a twist that was definitely influenced by Umberto Lenzi because it’s not good.
We’re back with the priest. A title screen reads, “The Last Son Of Dracula.” The priest walks through the woods for five minutes. He finds Dracula’s son in a castle. Dracula’s son is wearing a bald cap with his real hair sticking out underneath. The priest stakes Dracula’s son. The end!
In “Hell Taxi,” the final story, the same kid who played Dracula’s Son wears a trucker’s hat that says SUPER MACHO. He spends his time hanging out in a hammock, talking on the phone, working odd jobs and trying to get laid. It’s basically Francois Truffaut’s Antoine and Colette, but better. Meanwhile, a vampire picks up victims in his taxi, brings them to his lair, and dismembers them with a handsaw and an axe. The vampire kidnaps Cindy, SUPER MACHO’s gal-pal. Let the battle begin! And the talking in living rooms! And the exploring of underground vampire lairs! Eventually, SUPER MACHO rides on top of the taxi and has a showdown with the vampire’s minions, who wear rubber monster masks from Walgreens.
Night of Vampyrmania doesn’t play out like Trepanator, Sexandroide or any other homemade brain-stabber from France that feels like it magically materialized from Planet X. The tone is lucid and innocent. And unlike other European SOV horror movies that were made by young people, there’s no angst or rebellion in Night. Director Richard Thompson wasn’t obsessed with genital mutilation (Zombie ’90) or smoking weed (The Butcher). But he was obsessed with playing triumphant Casio synth-pop while people do mundane things, like walking up a staircase. He was also way into time-lapse vectorized video effects, inept gore and meta-enhanced references to some of his favorite things. Like a fake horror movie that he made up called Trashman: The Nuke Vampire.
Night might feel uneven to people who have no patience. That’s their problem. This is two-thousand minutes of naive enthusiasm and unhinged fun crammed into an eighty-minute movie. It deserves many hugs from you.
P.S. In this movie, Santa Claus is a vampire.
This was originally published in the December issue of Birth.Movies.Death. Night of Vampyrmania screens this Sunday at 10:30pm at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz in Austin as part of the Video Vortex series. Get tickets here.