Cyborg Cop 2 (1994)

If you think about it for a minute, these titles make no sense. Even if you consider the title as a cop who polices cyborgs, he’s not a cop, he’s a DEA agent; if you want an actual cyborg cop, then the two minutes that his brother decides to be a good guy at the end of part 1 is all you’re going to get. But “Human DEA Agent” isn’t quite as catchy a title for a B-movie, I’ll admit.

David Bradley (not that David Bradley) is back as Jack Ryan (not that Jack Ryan), who seems to be the same character? His girlfriend is gone, his brother is never mentioned, but he still has that kid and the fanny-pack. Presumably, someone complained about the lily-white cast of part 1, so he has a black partner now, who he’s close enough with to have a photo of the two of them together on his apartment wall. Oh, he’d quit the DEA in the first movie but is back in this one. Who knows?

There’s a terribly filmed raid scene, where a group of criminals led by a charmer called Starkraven, wipe out most of the people inside a drug factory – there was money owed, or something. Anyway, this criminal-on-criminal action is interrupted and Starkraven is arrested by Jack (Jack is introduced getting out of a car, with a slow pan up his body like he’s a damn model). Later, though, he’s taken from jail by some federal agents, only for the next day’s newspaper to tell us he died. Huh?

Don’t worry, those feds are the ATG (Anti-Terrorism Group) and they’re building super-cyborgs. They’re literally called that, it’s not just hyperbole! They’ve got heat-resistant kevlar skin, special hats which link to their brain, and magic glasses. Now, for those of you thinking “wouldn’t it make more sense to just put that stuff in their bodies?” you’d, of course, be right, and just for extra confusion, that’s a big red herring as none of the cyborgs use those glasses at any point (they all wear hats, but seem to gain no benefit from doing so). Also, the plan for the ATG is flimsy at best, and the people who work there all seem like assholes, not decent law enforcement.

Just getting back from a Paula Poundstone lookalike contest

Anyway! Starkraven is renamed Spartacus by the head scientist, and of course escapes almost immediately, taking the one device – a sort of wrist computer – that can fry his circuits, killing everyone and freeing his cyborg pals. He’s got world domination on his mind! But my absolute favourite bit of this scene is when he opens his eyes for the first time and they play that servo noise! His eyelids have motors attached to them! As well as world domination, he wants his first slave to be Jack Ryan, as he resented being kidnapped by a guy with a bad haircut, a cheesy leather jacket and a fanny-pack.

ASIDE: Dear 90s scientists, stop using criminals for your experiments. It never works.

The woman with the big “love interest” sign above her head in this movie is ATG agent Liz McDowell (Jill Pierce). She’s the classic b-movie combination of extremely beautiful and extremely bad at acting, and even though she knows about the cyborgs, you can tell she’s one of the good people. Eventually, they team up, and Jack also gets help from a local sheriff who, rather inexplicably, appears to be English? Can Jack and Liz defeat the apparently indestructible cyborgs? Will they get together, despite hating each other when they first meet? And when will someone tell Jack that fanny-packs are a really bad fashion choice?

Liberally cover everything in music so inappropriate that I began to wonder if it was a joke on behalf of a savvy producer, and you’ve got yourself a sequel. Bradley seems less convinced by the material than he did in part 1, and is (unfortunately) a little weak; but he’s Olivier crossed with Gielgud compared to Jill Pierce. Watching her was confusing – was she this bad on a dare? Was she under heavy sedation the entire time? Was she a crew member who had to replace the actual actor on the first day of filming? Apparently, she was a professional acting-person who was also in “Kickboxer 4” and “Omega Doom”, although her “retirement” in 1998 was not a particular loss to the industry. The guy playing Starkraven was fine, although the rest of his cyborg army clearly got no direction as they’re entirely blank-faced whenever you see them on screen.

Talking of which, it’s time for “ISCFC Low-Budget Film School”! The way you’d normally film someone getting blown up with a rocket launcher is in three parts:

  1. Shot of bad guy
  2. Shot of good guy firing rocket launcher
  3. Immediately cut to bad guy blowing up

Simple and effective. “Cyborg Cop 2” follows this, almost, but leaves in a few too many frames of the pre-explosion bad guys in section 3. It’s not like I’m even all that eagle-eyed, but one lucky freeze-frame later and here is the shot of the bad guys an instant before they were killed:

Pay your editor, people. It’s worth it.

If you watched part 1 and enjoyed it, you’ll like this too. They share a director and a sense of humour, and despite it being a bit silly, it rips along at a fair old pace. A few seconds of editing and it’d have been even better. Part 3 sounds interesting too, starring ISCFC favourites Bryan Genesse and Frank Zagarino, so I’ll have a review of that up soon.

Rating: thumbs in the middle

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Cyborg Cop (1993)

If you’ve ever heard of “Cyborg Cop”, you might wonder why the ISCFC has never covered it – it’s perfect for us, in terms of era, production company, stars and plot. Well, I watched it about a week before I answered a forum post saying “anyone want to review movies?” and started writing for this site, back in 2012, and I’ve needed this amount of time to forget enough stuff about it to watch it again, and it fits in nicely with our “— Cop” series of reviews.

It’s a welcome return for David Bradley – not the one from “Kes”, or the one from the “Harry Potter” movies, I’m talking about the famous one here – last seen by us in “American Samurai”. Here, he’s DEA agent Jack Ryan (generic name alert!) and he and his brother Philip (Todd Jensen) are tracking down some dealer through a disused factory. The dealer has a hostage and a vest, so Jack takes out his magic armour-piercing bullets, which you’d think would be referenced later during the climactic battle but totally aren’t, and shoots him. Hostage survives, bad guy dead, no problem, right? Well, the TV news, making Fox News look actually fair and balanced, are there within seconds, and as the dead guy is the son of a media magnate, Jack is out of a job.

Jack retires to a generic bar, to wear a leather jacket and a fanny-pack and look miserable. Philip, still a DEA guy, takes a team to storm the remote compound of Kessel, and here’s where I need to stop the review for a moment.

John Rhys Davies! Reviews of his movies litter our pages, and his run on TV show “Sliders” is a particular highlight – we can even leave aside his crappy Margaret Thatcher-supporting right wing views. But here, he clearly turned up for the first day of filming and said “hey, director! I’ve got an idea. How about I do a camp Yorkshire accent?” and then just refused to change it when everyone said it was not a good idea. As far as I’m aware, it’s not JRD’s real accent (having been born down south and brought up in Wales) and it appears this particular voice is not one of his strong suits. Anyway.

Philip is captured by Kessel and Jack has to go and look for him. As the title sort of gives it away, Kessel’s business plan, as well as selling drugs, is to create cyborg warriors and sell them to international terrorist organisations – the prototype is the guy who captures Philip. Before we go any further, Quincy (the prototype’s name) has an amazing knife-hand thing, like a combination of Freddy Krueger and Wolverine, and his impassive performance is a minor gem. Anyway, Jack gets to (Mysterious Unnamed Caribbean Island) and wouldn’t you know it, the reporter who exposed him back at the beginning of the movie is here on the island to look into the same thing! It may take you at least three seconds to figure out they’ll be having sex at some point soon; but Alonna Shaw, who plays Cathy, is actually a pretty good actress, so it’s still fun to watch.

The movie progresses pretty much like you expect it to. Jack and Cathy investigate things, get involved in chases and fights, and Kessel tries to track them down, or kill them, or both. Director Sam Firstenberg (who also did the first two “American Ninja” movies, as well as “American Samurai”) knows how to keep things going at a good pace. There’s a fine example of something which is lost in movies today – good blood squibs. There’s so much CGI shooting these days that it’s fun to see someone doing it the old way, and doing it well too.

Also, kudos to writer Greg Latter, who’s got some comedy form. As well as JRD’s performance (which we could charitably describe as OTT on purpose), there’s some decent banter between the two stars, and some decent comic relief from Kurt Egelhof as “Rastaman”. Plus, a guy gets a hole punched right through his head, which (I hope for my sanity) was put in there as a grim joke.

This is another Nu Image production. They were founded by executives from Cannon after that company folded (check out our review of the Cannon documentary HERE) and decided to make movies just as cheesy as Cannon did, but to actually have a control on their finances and so on. That’s why Golan and Globus are a joke now and Nu Image is making the Expendables movies and sitting on a large pile of cash. We have the solid performance and low-ish budgets of movies like “Cyborg Cop” to thank for that success. Hurray, I guess?

Both main stars never made another movie past the late 90s, and I think that’s a shame. David Bradley was a great martial artist, looked like a leading man and, towards the end, bothered to learn acting (he’s totally fine in this, for example). Alonna Shaw is way better than I expected a former model to be, too, so there’s precious few of those moments where your brain tunes out because you can tell everyone on screen is struggling with their lines.

So, it’s a lot of fun, there’s plenty of action, and cyborgs too! ISCFC readers will no doubt have a fine time with this one. Join us in a few days to see if part 2 is anywhere near as good!

Rating: thumbs up

Preview! Fags In The Fast Lane (2017)

Sorry, dear reader, for a brief break – I’ve been working on some reviews of upcoming movies for St Louis’ own QFest, a celebration of queer cinema. “Women Who Kill” comes highly recommended from this scribe, and you can check the reviews out at “We Are Movie Geeks”.

 

Anyway, this isn’t about that, although with this title it ought to be. I feel like QFest isn’t sleazy enough for this magnificent-looking piece of cinema.

 

 

I’ve seen the trailer several times now and it’s still every bit as intriguing as it was the first time. It came to my attention thanks to the involvement of rock-n-roll legend King Khan, but now I’m fully on board. What the hell is it about? How does one qualify as a Cocksmith? Could it possibly be as amazing as the trailer? Kitten Navidad is still alive? (Please check out our review of “Red Lips”, also featuring Ms Navidad, HERE)

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be queueing up for this movie on its release – if you were a fan of the director’s previous “Pervirella” from 1997, then you’ll definitely be interested. Please follow the movie on Facebook, Twitter, other sites I’m too old to know about, and drop a few dollars on it when it’s released. Because we can’t have another twenty years before the next Josh Collins movie!

Thunder Cops 2 (1989)

Of all the issues we’ve had with sequels here at the ISCFC, few are as unexpected as this. It’s a bit like, when they decided to make a sequel to “The Frighteners”, but then got John Woo to direct a version of “Requiem For A Dream” and just called that “The Frighteners 2”. I promise, whatever visual you have in your head of what such a movie would be is probably not as odd as “Thunder Cops 2”, because not only does it share some cast with its prequel (although they appear to be playing completely different characters) it also has the same writer / director!

It starts off with Officer Nam Tse (Sandra Ng) causing the death of her father thanks to her unpreparedness at a crime scene – she has no gun – and although this is at least a moderately standard cop thriller opening, it just goes downhill from there. She toughens up quickly, and when we next see her doing cop stuff she’s got a junkie informant who she’s supplying drugs for. The scene where the junkie’s boyfriend pops in and we see her getting taken from behind while Fong is hiding in a closet, only the junkie knows Fong can see and enjoys it, is mere preparation for what’s to come.

The plot is, Fong is desperately trying to get the guy who killed her dad, drug kingpin Fei Tsat. She loses her job, is arrested for murder, and then gets involved with the brother of one of Fei Tsat’s lieutenants, Siu Yien. There’s an insane set-piece battle at a wedding, lots of sadness and even a little good old traditional HK movie kung-fu in there to keep the popcorn crowd happy.

Perhaps the only reason any Western fan, other than idiots wanting to watch every movie where “Cop” or “Cops” is the last word of the title, is the appearance of Stephen Chow as Siu Yien. Chow was a few years away from the international stardom that “Shaolin Soccer” and “Kung Fu Hustle” would bring him, and even though he tries to do comedy bits, the crushing misery of the rest of the movie leaves his clowning feeling a little off-putting. Still, he’s the most interesting thing about this movie, even if he’s not in it quite so much as his billing would have you believe.

If “Thunder Cops 2” had been called something else, and just stood on its own, I think it’d have done a lot better. Okay, it’s very much a John Woo ripoff, but it’s dark and having two actors best known for comedy in the central roles is an interesting choice.

Before we leave each other for another day, a word about the subtitles. Be prepared to want to slap the person who did the translating, because it fails on every level. First, it feels like someone reading out the English to someone else, who only got one run at typing. Some of the English words are spelled way wrong, and a lot of others are just in the wrong place. You can’t help but think some of the characters are stupid, with the way they speak, and that’s just the translation’s fault.

A miserable, violent, almost good curio of a movie.

Rating: thumbs in the middle

The ISCFC vs. The Internet (part 2)

This is still what I think of the internet

 

This is the second in an ongoing series where we tell you about what our writers have been doing for other sites. Well, I recently moved to St Louis, and while there found out about the excellent site “We Are Movie Geeks”, a fount of knowledge about all things St Louis movie-related. Upcoming arthouse shows, reviews of new blockbusters, giveaways…and now stuff from me, starting with an overview of the movies of Andy Sidaris!

 

http://www.wearemoviegeeks.com/2017/03/girls-guns-g-strings-andy-sidaris-legend-cult-cinema/

 

Please go and read their site, it’s really good, and not just if you’re local like me. And if you do, you can expect more of these director overviews from me, with Len Kabasinski pencilled in as next month’s.

Thunder Cops (1987)

Once again, we have a moderately confusing film numbering situation. My copy is actually billed as “Operation Pink Squad 2”, and while the name might have you think it’s a more, er, “adult” movie than we normally cover, it’s merely a sequel to a movie about a group of female cops who have to put up with office sexism and so on. But there’s a sequel to this which is called “Thunder Cops 2”, which is only related to this in that it shares a director – it’s a dark thriller, apparently. Not quite as weird as the late numbering of the “No Retreat, No Surrender” series, but still.

The 80s and 90s gave us quite a lot of supernatural-themed movies from Hong Kong – there’s the two “Heroic Trio” entries; “The Bride With White Hair”; “The Storm Riders”; and so on. But what few of them gave us was a solid five minutes of jokes about “turd”, a pissing contest to decide which one of the two remaining men gets his penis chopped off, and the implied sacrifice of a foetus to save the world. Yes, dear reader, when I say “you’ve not seen anything like this before”, you’re going to have to believe me.

It starts off where I presume the first one ended, with one of the lady-cops getting married to a guy who looks like an extremely nerdy Chow-Yun Fat. Their wedding night, he’s ludicrously nervous, but when she asks if he’s a virgin, he says no to try and look cool. She says she isn’t either and is delighted!

But, of course, our friend isn’t delighted, because now he thinks his wife is damaged goods. This rather insane state of affairs, which is played for laughs throughout, ends up with him chasing his boss through a hotel with a gun, thinking his boss is having an affair with his wife; but as we all know, he’s merely hired Pink Squad to go undercover as prostitutes or money forgers. It’s a little unclear what he expects them to do. And then it turns out the hotel is haunted, and is on the Hellmouth (it’s not called that, but it’s much easier to call it that than look it up again).

Things go bonkers quite quickly. There’s a Buddhist monk (whose gear is absolutely covered in swastikas, which is a bit weird to our Western eyes) trying to trap an infestation of ghosts; the criminal the ladies are trying to trap, a fun performance; and the chief ghost, a woman who spends about a third of the movie as a disembodied head.

First things first: I’ve got no idea what’s going on. At all. Why the ghosts have picked this spot, why the Buddhist guy is trying to trap them all, why they need four cops and a hotel room to do a simple handover, why Chinese ghosts are sometimes solid and can have their heads chopped off, and why elves are on hand to save the day at the end. Yes, elves.

This weird farce, where you get gore and pee jokes in the same scene, is also staggeringly sexist. You’d think the four female stars of the movie would get to be, you know, the stars, but until about ten minutes before the end, they do absolutely nothing, just simpering in the corner while the guys do all the actual action. Given the number of Jackie Chan films from the same area and era that treat women as objects, it’s not extremely surprising, but it’s still crap. I’m sure it didn’t even enter their heads to have the women do any of the action, and they saw it as entirely natural, which just makes it worse. The mild racism (a black woman in a strip club dressed up like a savage, dancing to jungle drums) is almost quaint in comparison.

If anything, it feels like “Re-Animator” without any of the decent acting or script that that classic had; but even that doesn’t quite cover it. The sheer what-the-hell?-ness of seeing all these ideas and styles just getting thrown at each other is something we poor Westerners aren’t really used to. But imagine Re-Animator played as a farce, and way more sexist, and you’ll be somewhere around the right area.

The thing I left this movie with was I wanted the ghost to win. It might have been the comically poor subtitles confusing me as to everyone’s motivations, or something else, but she was just interested in helping her people out, and getting some sweet loving from one of the living people. Nice and simple, she only fought in self-defence and had some fun with being a ghost.

There’s a parody of “The Killer”, the John Woo / Chow Yun Fat classic, in there, which leads me to believe there might be lots of other parodies I just didn’t recognise due to being, at best, a casual fan of Hong Kong cinema. We don’t get to see tons of HK comedy (I guess because most of it remains un-translated for Western audiences) so if this is what they get on the regular, I want to see more.

It’s really really strange, and to say it throws everything at the wall to see what sticks is almost underestimating it. If only they’d bothered to have the women seen as in any way remotely equal to the men!

Rating: thumbs in the middle

Youtube Film Club: Psycho Cop 2 (1993)

After the first “Psycho Cop”, which was a success pretty much solely based on the participation of Bobby Joe Shafer as the titular fellow, the producers and star decided to find a new writer / director (Adam Rifkin, who also directed “Detroit Rock City” a few years later) and have some fun. So, we get a straight comedy, just one with tons of gore in it, all the things that made the first film good and none of the stuff that bored you to tears.

The setup for this one is – there’s going to be a bachelor party in an office building, after all the non-cool people have gone home for the night. This leaves Lawrence, Michael, Brian and Gary, one of them’s getting married but you don’t care which of the dumb male cannon fodder it is and neither do I. At breakfast one morning, two of the office bros are discussing this, including the weed and booze they’re going to have there, and sat a couple of chairs down is the one, the only, Psycho Cop!

You might remember from the first movie, that our friend got a rather blunt wooden stick thrown through his chest by one of the survivors of his first rampage; but of course his eyes popped open at the end, and he seems legitimately to be Satan-powered, so of course you know you can’t keep a good man down. After some mild recovery, it would appear he’s just been sat around for a few years waiting for someone to admit to a crime in front of him; but he’s good to go immediately. I mean, it’s pretty foolish to discuss smoking weed in front of any police officer, but when he’s an undead psychotic Satanist, that’s just rotten luck.

One small point: Joe’s number plate has 666 on it, because of course, but I’m going to guess the DMV won’t issue a plate with that number on it, so the one they have is a 999 number plate, turned upside down. Nice try guys! But the opening credits, where you see all the Satanic symbols (done in blood, obviously) and body parts (as if he’s very absent-minded after killing and butchering people) laid about his car, is amazing.

So, the majority of the movie is set in the office building. We get a good twenty minutes of sitcom-style shenanigans as the party is organised under the nose of unsuspecting boss Mr Stonecipher; as Brian tries to hit on office hottie Sharon; and as a couple commit some adultery in the copy room. It’s well-filmed, everyone’s given some fun lines, and it’s immediately apparent you’re in better hands than you were the first time.

Joining them a little later are a group of strippers, but they’re either the world’s friendliest strippers or they’re really prostitutes who dance a little, as they’re all over the four men from the moment they’re snuck past Gus the security guard. One of them is Julie Strain, who we’re becoming pretty familiar with. I thought it might be the beginning of her career, as she only gets a few lines, but it turns out we’ve already reviewed the earlier “Witchcraft 4”. Damn, that was a terrible one! The other two strippers are also decent actors, Melanie Good and Maureen Flaherty, so it’s all thumbs up so far.

Okay, the stripping section isn’t a million miles from soft porn, with almost naked women grinding on the guys and each other, but…it’s short, I guess? And they seem happy to be doing it all? I know.

So, once again, Officer Joe is the world’s best planner, setting up everything so he can offer up the office workers to Satan, even the ones who don’t seem to have done anything wrong. Although the cannon fodder don’t help by wandering off on their own, or going to the helicopter pad to have sex – to be fair, the helicopter pad scene is hilarious, so I shouldn’t complain. The bits where Joe starts faxing pictures of his victims to the survivors, who just assume it’s a prank, are damned funny too.

Ultimately, it’s a spree killer movie where you’re 100% cheering for the killer, not because the people are assholes, but because he’s amazing. Shafer is perfect for the role, knowing that people turned up for his quips and giving them to us with complete commitment. I’ll let his mini-monologue on the helicopter pad speak for itself (said after he’s shot a guy in the head and thrown a woman off the roof):

You have the right to remain dead. Anything you say can and will be considered very strange because you’re dead. You have the right to an attorney, but it won’t do you any good because you’re dead. Do you understand these rights that have just been read to you? Are you even listening? It would be a lot easier if you were a little more cooperative!

When he confronts the remaining survivors, and tries to pretend to be a normal cop for a few minutes, but is so crazy he can’t quite manage it and doesn’t care, could have been terrible in the hands of a worse actor, but it’s my favourite scene in the movie. People get hacked up and shot in the head and it’s entertaining from beginning to end.

But wait! It’s not perfect, quite. There is a Final Girl, as is standard in these things, but she’s introduced weirdly, as she’s completely incidental to the first half and only really steps up when she joins the rest of the cast. I would assume a scene which introduces her got cut, because otherwise it makes no sense to have her in that role. I was sort of expecting it to be Julie Strain until she met her end too, so be prepared for this to sort of stick to the horror rules, then sort of ignore them. The ending, apparently a parody of the Rodney King beating (look it up and be horrified, younger readers) is a bit weird too, but I imagine it would’ve been a lot more shocking at the time.

Other than that, I have no trouble calling this vastly superior to the original (a trait it shares with “Maniac Cop 2” – oh, for a crossover between those two franchises!) and, considering it’s on Youtube, should be watched by you all immediately. Funny, clever, and extremely violent – the ISCFC trifecta!

Rating: thumbs up

Blu-ray review: Vampire Cop (1990)

There’s something of a story behind this site’s relationship with this movie, so feel free to skip a few paragraphs if you don’t like that sort of thing. If you’re happy with my nonsense, read on!

In my teens, my friends and I would go to Blockbuster, find the weirdest-looking VHS tape we could find, then watch the trailers and find the movie with the worst trailer, and repeat the process until we got to theoretically the worst movie ever. Sadly, our mission was stopped at four movies, when I was unable to track down a gem called “Vampire Cop”. Fast forward many years, I’m writing for this fine site right here, and I decided to track it down.

However, I made a slight mistake, and that mistake introduced me to the world of Donald Farmer, who’d made a different movie with the same title. I watched that, and the ISCFC’s world has never been the same again. Without “Vampire Cop”, I’d have never seen any of his great (and often bizarre) movies, and I’d have never met (electronically) the man himself. He’s one of the most generous filmmakers out there, happy to answer questions from his fans all day and share behind the scenes photos from his movies on social media. Full disclosure: thanks to one of those online funding platforms, I’m now a producer on his latest movie! He’s such a decent chap he’s happy to talk to someone (me) who’s been more than unkind to a few of his old movies; but anyway.

SRS Cinema are amazing, the sort of site I’d make if I had money, time, patience, any ability as a filmmaker, etc. Headed by the great Ron Bonk, they release some weird and wonderful stuff, and the trailers on this blu-ray were a fine example of that – “House Shark”; “She Kills”; “Night Of Something Strange”, and the first two volumes of Donald Farmer’s old 8mm horror shorts. Now, one might say that as two of these movies are about vaginas with tentacles coming out of them, someone at SRS Cinema has issues…or maybe one is a sequel to the other and I’m just an idiot. But I’d heartily recommend dropping some $$$ on their output, you’ll have a good time.

And their latest release is this. If you’d like to read our thoughts on the original release cut of “Vampire Cop”, click HERE, as it’s included on the disc too. But the real treasure for us Farmer-philes is a director’s cut, along with a commentary track from the man himself! So, I’ll mention a few things I forgot in the first review, discuss the quality of the special features and enjoy a rewatch of a classic.

CUT INFO: It’s 6 minutes shorter than the official release, and there’s a lot to recommend about it. Less sex, less focusing on the backlit vampire, none of that ridiculous dream sequence at the beginning; all things being equal, I’d pick this over the release cut. But…

There are two technical things you need to be aware of before you buy this (which I very much recommend). One is that the picture quality appears to have not been changed at all – in other words, this feels the same as watching the VHS tape back in the 90s. I guess, being shot on 16mm, there’s not a lot you can do to it quality-wise, but if you were buying this expecting Melissa Moore’s boobs in glorious HD, move along. The other thing is a little more off-putting, and that’s the lack of incidental music. All the dialogue is there, but some of the sound effects aren’t, and none of the music is. This reaches its apotheosis during the sex scene, which is three minutes of complete silence. Quite curious.

Turns out the lack of sound is due to this being an unusual sort of director’s cut. Donald Farmer submitted this version to a distributor, but they were all “if you shoot some new scenes, it’ll make the movie better, and we’ll pay for it”. This meant they were the primary shareholders (the original cut being made for an amazing $15,000) and held the rights to it for many years; none of the scenes they added made any difference, with the exception of a small one where the TV station’s producer, played by Farmer himself, discusses upcoming segments with such titles as “Transsexual House Pets” and “Men Who Name Their Testicles”. I’d have been happy to have that in the director’s cut too, but I appreciate I’m not in the majority of movie fans. They were less than honest with Farmer, and if you make a movie yourself you’d do well to avail yourself of all these horror stories and avoid them.

The movie itself is largely the same. A drug dealer tries to buy off the city with large charitable donations, but the cops still want to chase him down. One of those cops is Lucas, played by Ed Cannon, who’s also a vampire, but he’s sort of a dumb vampire who doesn’t pay attention to who he’s biting and therefore turning into vampires too. He hooks up with investigative journalist Melissa Moore and they take down this kingpin. He has the worst poker face ever, when the subject of vampirism is brought up, he does this weird face and if I was in the room with him, I’d be asking if he’d just had a stroke.

The commentary from Farmer is fantastic, full of really interesting facts about the world of low-budget movie-making, info about his actors, shooting details, and so on. It’s loose and informal and is like having the director sat next to you on the sofa, drinking a few beers and telling you anecdotes for 80 minutes.

I’m man enough to admit when I’m wrong, and a vast number of the criticisms I had of the original cut were of stuff that Farmer had no control over – the distributor’s cut of the movie, the incredibly tiny budget, the excessive nudity, and so on. The dream sequence at the beginning wasn’t his idea, and the chap with the moustache in the bathtub, who after watching the movie three times, I’ve still got no bloody idea who he was or why he was in it, was put in because he was staying at the house they were filming at and the other people there begged Farmer. Okay, no-one’s going to be mistaking this for Oscar fare, but the director’s cut makes a lot more sense.

Farmer shows his self-deprecating side when he repeats something that Roger Corman once said, as it applies to his movies too – “I hope all my actors will have careers where they don’t have to work with me again”. By the way, there’s a legit Oscar winner in his cast – RJ McKay, who plays gangster’s sidekick Raymond (and is by miles the best actor in it) was actually Ray McKinnon, working under an assumed name as “Vampire Cop” was a non-union movie. McKinnon has gone on to work on “Deadwood” and “Sons Of Anarchy”, and produced “Rectify” for the Sundance Channel. His Oscar was for a short movie, but he’s clearly had a great career, and he gave his all for $75 a day.

It’s my ambition to get my name on a DVD cover with a pull quote, so let’s try one of those. “SRS Cinema’s relationship with Donald Farmer means we get a new version of his 1990 classic!” I sort of like that. As I say, over and over again, if you have some spare entertainment money, people like SRS will be able to use it to keep producing the sort of bonkers nonsense you’re not going to get anywhere else, more so than another ticket for some multiplex tedium.

Rating: thumbs up