Last year, prolific director Dominic Brunt went subtle with the mermaid chiller Evie – here, he goes broad again with a horror comedy laced with inside showbiz jokes. It’s a kinder, gentler gore-drenched monster romp than Brunt’s Attack of the Adult Babies – though there’s quite a bit of nasty behaviour going on.
Fake opening titles present a vampire film called Crimson Manor, starring stagey old ham Oliver Lawrence (James Fleet) … then the bulk of the film takes place on the last night of its shoot, at a location the film company were told to finish using by the full moon. With a lot of nods to An American Werewolf in London’s pub scenes (nice cameo from dour Northern John Henshaw), exposition is doled out and dark hints dropped … then we’re on set with a feckless producer, a dithering director, a demanding star and an overworked First AD (Fionnuala Milligan) as things go South. The manor was owned by a stage magician who has mysteriously disappeared after a tour of the Carpathians, and the title pretty much gives away the nature of the beast (Morgan Rees-Davies) who’s soon ripping its way through the crew and cast – note that the above-the-line creatives are all too willing to throw hardworking techs literally to the wolves to save their hides.
Fleet is funny as a parody of the kind of horror star who vanished a long time ago, wittering on about his stage Shakespeare credits and complaining about the shoddy fangs he has to wear while recreating his continuing role as a cloaked aristocratic European vampire. It’s pretty much a shaggy dog movie, and joins a relatively recent pack of British hairy horrors – Wild Country, Love Bite, Howl, Strippers s Werewolves, 13HRS, Blood Moon, A Werewolf in England, etc. The film rambles on a bit, but the monster is pleasingly retro-looking. NB: there’s a lengthy, significant post-credits scene.