Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Film review – Decadent Evil/Decadent Evil 2

My notes on the Decadent Evil films.Decadent Evil

Produced, directed and co-written (with August White) by Charles Band, this is a start-up effort for Wizard Pictures, the successor outfit to Empire and Full Moon. In typically parsimonious style, it opens with a precis, seemingly narrated by a red lizard-faced geek in a cage, of Vampire Journals – a film that already channeled into a Subspecies crossover sequel – on the principle that the vampires who show up later are affiliated with the ones in the earlier movie.

Then, in urban America, a horny guy named Bruce (Roger Toussaint) takes his dim date Tami (April Gilbert) to a strip-club, where he buys her a lap-dance from sinister Spyce (Raelyn Hennessee) – yes, she has a ‘sister’ called Sugar (Jill Michelle) – who invites them into her mansion-look home for some lesbian smooching interrupted by slinky dragon lady Morella (Debra Mayer), who slits the idiot’s throat and spatters her fangs with his blood. Tami runs in her black scanties about the big, dramatically-lit house and comes across the red-faced gremlin creature (another of Band’s patented little critters) Marvin (who now seems able only to gurgle like a ghoulie) and gets got by Morella, who only needs three more spurts of arterial blood to collect her ten thousand souls and move up to a higher level of vampire empowerment (‘maybe even become invincible’). Sugar, who’s more normal-seeming, is having sex with club DJ Dex (Daniel Lennox), who is getting suspicious about the way his girlfriend won’t let her call on the house she shares with Spyce and Morella. Sugar sneaks home, and Morella gives her a lecture about the impossibility of relationships between vampire women and human men. Dex gets a mystery visitor, Ivan Burroughs (Phil Fondacaro, a Band regular) the hardboiled dwarf vampire hunter (in an Indy hat), who is after Morella. Dex confirms that Sugar is a vampire, but still loves her – aah! – which makes Spyce snippy as she toadies to the mistress.

Morella collects more victims – a chubby internet hook-up in a hotel room (John F. Schaeffer), and a hooker (Harmony Rose) who gets tied to the bed and crawled over by Marvin (who sticks a tongue-fang into her breast), and Ivan shows up to shove a stake through Spyce, who turns into a pile of ash. He’s about to skewer the sympathetic if wet Sugar when he spots Marvin, and realises the homunculus (‘a tiny prehistoric human, part-reptile’) is his father, Morella’s faithless ex-lover. Ivan swallows some of Marvin’s blood, and tricks Morella into biting him – whereupon she turns into a green little homunculus herself and a blackout gag finish has her in Marvin’s cage getting ass-fucked by the gremlin (which, though she’s a bitch villainess somehow still counts as an ill-advised rape joke). It’s an action-free film: people stand about discussing things — like vampire-killing, soul-harvesting or becoming invincible — before actually doing anything about them, and then it’s over with in moments. The blocking is more like a stage production, and the talk runs to ranting. It also clocks in at barely 65 minutes.

Decadent Evil II

‘Honey, evil vampires don’t have friends.’

Producer/director Charles Band and writer August White return with an even-cheaper sequel to their already-cheap lap-dancing vampire movie. The earlier movie opened with a narrated cut-down of Vanpire Journals, but this begins with a run-through of Decadent Evil – narrated by Band regular little person Phil Fondacaro in character as vampire-slayer Ivan Burroughs, who got killed at the end of the story (‘I know what you’re thinking – if I’m dead, how can I be narrating this story? Sit tight, it gets even weirder.’). Ex-evil vampire Sugar (Jill Michelle) and her human boyfriend Dex (Daniel Lennox) relocate to Little Rock, Arkansas, dragging along homunculus Marvin (Ivan’s father, transformed by Morella – the villainess of the first film) in a birdcage and Ivan’s remains in a suitcase. It seems that a sample of the blood of the new head of the vampire clan, promoted by Morella’s death (at the end of the first film, she wasn’t actually killed but homunculised – but this rethinks the uncomfortable puppet rape punchline and assumes she’s gone), will restore Ivan (now Ricardo Gil) to life, though a botched attempt at resurrection brings him back as a pissed-off vampire (‘I thought you’d like it better than being dead’). ‘I can’t even hold onto a cross,’ he whines, ‘what’s a vampire hunter without a cross?’

Ivan’s magic cross (a leftover plot) leads the pair to Visions, an Arkansas strip club, and there’s a Lost Boys-ish mystery about who the ‘leader of the bloodline’ might be. Is it pale, thin, bitchy queen bee stripper Lena (Jessica Morris – probably the best player here), nocturnal, shades-wearing British manager (with red drink locked in a fridge) Janos (Jon-Paul Gates), or ‘no fraternisation’ policy-enforcing bouncer Burke (James C. Burns). Or, as per Hong Kong Phooey, is it Boris, the mild-mannered, slightly retarded-seeming janitor (Mike Muscat)? The Vampire King (Rory Williamson) has a nosferatu-look red devil mask, and lurks in the basement plotting evil – he’s so rotten, he even bites other vampires. The mystery angle is surprisingly rare in movies like this, and is probably a better plot hook than the original: but all the suspects turn out to be vampires or wannabes, before the big reveal (yes, it’s Boris). He explains why he chooses his monstrous form over his human look, and Sugar sneers ‘You don’t want to go through life looking like a fat dumpy slob when instead you could have a puckered asshole for a face!’

Tiny nice effect – the villain gets staked from behind by Dex while Sugar bites him, and his head fades into a skull. Then that rape joke shows up again (!) in even more offensive form as Lena is tied to the bed with garlic strings and enthusiastically fucked from behind by Marvin – seriously, guys, what are you thinking? There are a lot of mild dances and live music – since Band used a real club, he’s obliged not to make it seem too sleazy (or even interesting). Perhaps the oddest touch is Ivan’s appropriation of ‘let’s roll’, the catch-phrase of United 93, as a vampire-slayer war-cry. It doesn’t even have the few nice locations and lighting tricks used in Decadent Evil, but it does stretch to a feature length 80plus minutes. Like the first film, it recycles a theme song from Band’s Oblivion movies.


One thought on “Film review – Decadent Evil/Decadent Evil 2

  1. Phelim O’Neill Band did some sort of lecture tour roadshow a few years ago, of course it never came here. I loved his mid-80’s peak: Troll, Trancers, Zone Troopers, Prison, Robot-Jox and the Stuart Gordon movies.

    Stephen Volk PASSION OF THE CRUST… I love it!!

    Jay Ceballos Is there a better Charles Band movie than “Meridian: Kiss of the Beast”? I don’t think so.
    Factoring in Sherilyn Fenn, poofy shirts, werewolf beasts, ghb in goblets . . . it might be the best movie of all time.

    Kim Newman I’m also a big fan of Band’s mid-80s output. Trancers is some sort of masterpiece (‘dry hair is for squids’), and own the box set of the Subspecies films.
    I’m also partial to Zone Troopers – the WWII movie with an alien thrown in, and think Tim Thomerson makes the ideal movie Sergeant Rock (he’s called Sergeant Stone for copyright purposes, the way Jeffrey Combs is Dr Mordrid in a film which is a close lift from Marvel’s Dr Strange).
    Meridian was called Phantoms in the UK, and has a sex scene in which twin brothers played by the same actor separately shag Sherilyn Fenn and Charlie Spradling for what seems like a third of the running time.

    Jay Ceballos I actually saw Zone Troopers in a movie theater here in the US. As a kid I thought it was cool.
    And yes, the sex scenes in Phantoms are what make it so incredible, except for the closeups of the beastman’s face during climactic moments. No finer beauty than Sherilyn Fenn.

    Toby Venables Re: ‘Sgt Stone’, was Tim Thomerson covering himself in case XTC got litigious?

    Posted by kimnewman | January 16, 2020, 3:06 pm

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