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movie archive review:

Human Meat Fight

“Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter” (2001)
Director: Lee Demarbre
Starring: Phil Caracas, Murielle Varhelyi, Maria Moulton, Jeff Moffet

review by Michael Kmenta

I have to start this by stating that I’ve attempted to watch this movie twice before. Each time I’ve tried, I’ve gotten about 20 minutes in and “shenanigans” is always called, and the film is changed. This attempt to watch the film is assisted by several Guinness Extra Stouts and some incredibly tasty Northern Lights, so as to keep my co-watchers interested and only mildly distracted.

First off, for an independent movie released in 2001, it manages to maintain a very 60/70’s look and audio texture. When I witnessed a 1990’s Jeep Wrangler drive by during the first musical number, I let it slide. The wardrobe was the only factor that continuously disrupted the consistency of the granulated look and feel. The combination of dark clothing, poor lighting, and thick filters makes it visually unsatisfying below even the “B standard”.

Admitted B-movies are notorious for their terrible acting and lesser known for their beyond terrible acting, as not every leading man can pull it off with the perfection of Bruce Campbell. No one really stands out to me as a comedic actor in this film. The comedy has scattergun accuracy at best, as no one produces humor with consistency. This movie is rife with contrived one-liners; some of them hit, though most fell flat. This actually adds to the feel. Overall, the cheese factor seeps through every crack in the acting. Once again, this is not a bad thing all the time. There are some great supporting characters whose cheese is often delectable in small servings. Pimps, faux hipsters, lesbians, and zealots are all thrown into the fray. Also, the consistency of disposable characters doesn’t fit how low budget this movie really seems, and I consider it to be a major plus.

Now, if you were expecting to see a long haired, bearded Jesus Christ (Caracas) fight vampires for 90 minutes, you are sadly 95% mistaken. While he has the trademark signature JC look during the first 5-6 minutes, he gets a haircut right after being introduced. I repeat: Jesus Christ gets a hair cut. What the fuck? The fight scenes lack something without a bearded, hairy messiah throwing punches and impaling vampires. To add insult to injury, they then dress him in street clothes. At this point, I have lost 70% of my interest in the movie. I find myself really unhappy with the constumes. I found the vampires to have a very understated look, with little to no textured make up on any of them.

The most redeeming character of “Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter” isn’t even Jesus; it’s the sharply dressed luchadore, Sancho (Moffet). As I said earlier, there were no notable comedic actors in this movie, but it is full of great characters, and there is a reason Sancho is an obvious plot selling point as a strong supporting character. There’s something about having a larger masked man committing violence that adds to the brutality and can allow room for completely silly mannerisms. He delivers exactly what you expect in the best way.

If they were going for campy, they hit the nail directly on the head with visual effects. Thick looking blood, slimy looking gore, and lack of apparent battle wound consistency are fully present in this movie. Piles of bodies are left in the wake of this version of the second coming. I am once again reminded of the large quantity of extras for what appears so be a very low budget movie. Campy gore fans, rest assured theres lots of splats, chunks, and what can only be called a “human meat fight”.

This is the point where reviewing a B-movie gets hard again. I’m very split on the choreography. The campy blood and gore are a definite high point in the action, though all the hits are extremely shlocky. Although I feel a definite arcade fighter influence on the action, it lacks the camera work to fully capture it. Many of the shots are pointlessly tight and don’t capture how big the action can look, and if the stop action was going to be as apparent as it was, I would have liked to see more impressive looking action using it.

I give the soundtrack a C+ for having some of the most outrageous Christian rock and Daft Punk-esque electrique dance side by side. The song at the very end is pure awesome sauce. The chorus sings, “Everybody’s getting laid tonight,” and the guitar plays the same four chord progression as “Don’t Stop Believing”, “Anyway You Want It”, and numerous other late 70’s hit songs. The musical parts really heap on the cheese, but I have to give them credit for making a musical about the second coming of Jesus Christ to fight the vampire scourge.

One more thing: Lesbian vampires. Ok, that’s cool. At least it sounds cool.

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