For the ‘Midnight Screening’ session, the director himself, Glenn McQuaid, made a somewhat surprising appearance. Director’s appearances are not uncommon at festivals, but this being the nocturnal gathering of film lovers rather than a premiere slot for film screening, it was somewhat unexpected. What was certainly unexpected was the director’s reaction and enthusiasm for the crowd. He appeared on stage, a handheld camera tacked to his right hand, and he waved back to the crowd as he was being introduced by the Korean translator (invariably ladies, as it turns out. Makes you think, doesn’t it? No? Moving on…). “I’m recording this for all the people back home,” he said, addressing the crowd through his camera. “So on the count of three, everyone wave to this camera, OK? Right! One, two…THREE!” Everyone, already enjoying being at the center of attention for the camera, wave enthusiastically.
Why did I write so lovingly of the above exchange? Simple. It’s very nice to see a director being enthusiastic about his own work. Not to promote, to sell, but to simply let it be and enjoy the moment. A nice lesson worth reminding.
It helps when the film put on reflects the fun the director himself seems to exude. We follow the tale of an 18th century grave robber named Arthur Blake (Dominic Monaghan), who is about to be executed for his ‘work’ over the past fifteen years or so. A visiting clergyman, Father Duffy (Ron Perlman), is tasked with making him repent, or to at least serve as a listening ear to a dying man. This he does, as he manages to coax out of Blake of his escapades with Willie Grimes (Larry Fessenden). Not like most grave hunters, they especially look for the bodies who are not quite dead, and are able to be revived. Things get a little trickier when they come across a rival group of grave robbers, the Murphy gang. As their battle escalates, they decide to try to steal zombies from the Murphy gang.
Yes, I said zombie. Stealing a zombie. How weird is that? I mean, who steals zombies? No, let’s not stop there, let’s go further to include…vampires. I did mention that this film is a comedy, right? For the vampire, the vampire they found is actually dead…with a stake stuck in its chest. Of course, not knowing what the function of the stake is, they pulled it out, and its comes to live, before they stuck it back in again. In and out, in and out. For about a moment, you’d get scared out of your wits, thinking, “Oh shit, it’s going to get them!” After the next half minute or so, you’d be laughing not just at their antics, but also at your own reactions. There are also other familiar creatures to be uncovered in this film, which you’ll discover soon enough if you even pay the most cursory of attentions to film reviews and the film’s own wikipedia page, which totally gave every single thing away. No fun at all.
The fun is important, and the fun lay in the discovery, because without the slow revelations of the film, then a film is nothing more than a magic show with a magician standing naked, stripped, exposed in front of the audience. This is one film whose turns and twists are not particularly special, I have to admit, but whose turns and twists are a big part of the fun of watching the film. The film doesn’t really have much beyond that, though I think the makers revelled in that.
Oh, it does have the actors, though. Two of the most recognisable ones would be Monaghan and Perlman. They both seem to enjoy their roles as well (that word again). Monaghan probably enjoyed the break from all the effects-heavy stuff he had been doing, and just enjoy doing a small little film that pokes fun both at itself and the genre that it is poking fun at. Perlman, on the other hand, probably enjoyed not having to do very much, since most of his scenes appeared to be of the ‘doable within a few days’ type. Of course, being set in Victorian Ireland, they all speak with typically bad Irish accents…which add to the fun even more.
Enjoy. Fun. Not exactly the sort of words you might attach to such a film, but I can’t deny that I had a lot of fun watching this film. It’s cheap, it’s low on quality…in fact, the whole thing seems like it’s a little B-movie for me. The blood actually looks like syrup! The temerity! To do that for such a feature film! But it’s been so long that I’ve seen and come across such a film with such a big heart (impaled on a stake, of course) that it’s just…fun. Neither is it particularly long, clocking in at less than 90 minutes, so it doesn’t over-extend upon the simplicity. Short, simple, sweet (not unlike this review itself).
How many recent movies you’ve seen can you say is actually fun and enjoyable?
Fikri thinks maybe it’s time he tries his hand at comedy…