A typical low-budget vampire movie from the VHS era, featuring guys in mullets and boxy suits and women with a great deal of product in their hair modelling erotic thriller evening gowns and underwear.
Realtor Kate Wooten (Sydney Walsh) catches the eye of Vlad Tepish (Brendan Hughes) at a yacht party and prevails on her to find him a castle – in Caliifornia-set vampire movies, there are a surprising number of castles or castle-like homes in and around Los Angeles, aptly furnished for brooding antiheroes.
Vlad fascinates Kate with some mild biting and writhing in front on an open fire, which enrages other characters – Kate’s already-semi-vampirised friend Celia (Amanda Wyss), her would-be boyfriend Martin (Scott Jacoby) and rival vampire Tom (Steve Bond). Because Vlad once casually killed a girl Tom was genuinely in love with – given a few references, it’s just possible she was Lucy Westenra from the novel – the grudge-holding vampire, who has been committing a series of mangling murders around town, is intent on slaughtering Kate.
The handsome but bland Vlad spends his nights making smarmy advances to women – by comparison, Tom claims that his method of exsanguination is ‘as quick as ripping off a band-aid’. The good vampire/bad vampire device, possibly cribbed from a thin reading of Anne Rice, was commonplace around this time, cf: Dracula Rising, The Vampire Journals, Subspecies, Nick Knight, etc.
The most memorable performance comes from Wyss in the ‘Lucy’ role – though, as usual, the character gets horribly treated by everyone. At the end, when Vlad walks into the sun and decomposes – in a mix of physical effects and opticals – Kate is upset, though she barely notices that her two long-time female best friends have been ripped apart on the same night. Even the supposed good guys – spurned boyfriends who crib from a book book of Dracula lore to work out how to kill vampires – are selfish and self-involved rather than altruistic Van Helsings, which might be an intentional dig at Los Angelenos but makes for a hard-to-like movie about horrible people in horrible clothes listening to horrible music and being horrible to each other.
Duane Jones of Night of the Living Dead and Ganja and Hess gets prominent guest star billing for a nothing role as the heroine’s boss. Screenwriter Leslie King picked up the story in Son of Darkness: To Die For 2, with Michael Praed replacing Hughes. Director Deran Serafian went on to direct episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the revived Night Stalker.