Regular readers will probably remember my trip to Comic Con at the end of March. The family and I had a great time, I met Red and Jonny – the Storm Trooper couple and I even got to see one of my childhood idols – Erin Gray. All and all, a very cool day.
There was just one little fly in the ointment. I ran into Marc Morgenstern, the director of The Vampire Conspiracy, a movie that I received as a free screener when I worked at HMV.
He asked me how I liked it. I thought it sucked donkey balls, but while I am opinionated, I try very hard not to be outright rude, though I admit, diplomacy is *not* my strong suit. That being said, my mind went blank and I couldn’t come up with something suitable to say. I admit, I should have been honest, especially considering that I had every intention of blogging about the whole thing. Of course, Marc read my blog. Can we say: “BUSTED!”
Ah, the power of the Internet.
As a result of my serious case of foot in mouth disease, I promised Marc that I would re-watch The Vampire Conspiracy with fresh eyes and write a new review.
Here it is.
The Vampire Conspiracy (2005) starts out with five complete strangers waking up in a bare room with no apparent way in or out. It’s obvious that they’ve been kept unconscious for some time. No one knows the other, there is no apparent connection between any of them. Or so it seems, until the count Thelonius Von Rhylos appears and tells them this is all part of a game, a game they have to play in order to survive.
Sound familiar? Saw came out in 2004, and while the premise may be the similar, the purpose is very different. The whole point of Jigsaw’s games were to teach people to value their lives, in the Vampire Conspiracy, the game is meant to find something very specific. The means by which the game does this is interesting – The Seven Heavenly Virtues. Why would an evil vampire use the blueprints for living a virtuous life as part of his game?
Intriguing, and I have to admit, the concept is a good one. There is just one over-riding problem that is at the root of every criticism I make about this film, and I can sum it up in one word:
The Vampire Conspiracy plays like a film student’s first year final project. Everything, the acting, dialogue, set design, camera shots, lighting, is amateurish. Even Count Rylos’ costume looks like something a Lestat-wannabe poseur would wear to head out to The Vampire Sex Bar*. Nothing visually pops in this film. I’ve often harped about directors that forget that even though they are in a visual medium, story is king. The problem is just the opposite in this case. Everything is flat and gray. There is nothing that tells me that production approached this film with any concrete idea as to how it would look onscreen. Everything is completely utilitarian, including camera shots.
And I think a lot of that can be attributed to the lack of experience on the part of the cast and crew.
So, I upon careful consideration, The Vampire Diaries does remain the worst movie I have ever seen, but it still has a lot of potential that remains untapped. There is nothing there that can’t be fixed by tightening up the dialogue, working on the pacing and hiring more experienced actors and crew, especially in terms of the DP and lighting.
Marc is currently selling The Vampire Conspiracy as a graphic novel, a definite improvement, and DVD set in hopes of raising enough money to re-make The Vampire Conspiracy on a bigger budget. I hope he manages it because there is a lot of potential there and a lot to love. Rylos is an interesting take on the vampire character, one you don’t see very often. It would be nice to see him get the movie he deserves.
Good Luck Marc! Keep in touch.
*Full name, Sanctuary Vampire Sex Bar, now know as Sanctuary Starbucks – UGGG! Is nothing sacred?