“Night Hunter” features one of the tiredest tropes of horror cinema, one which I hope never to see again – characters named after famous horror directors. There’s a Tourneur, a Romero, a Browning, an Argento…you know what, directors? We’ve all seen “Dawn of the Dead” and “Suspiria”, and the only thing references to them achieves is making us wish we were watching them again.
Saying that, “Night Hunter” is fine! It’s a welcome return for ISCFC favourite Don “The Dragon” Wilson, former world kickboxing champion turned actor – we’ve covered him in all 8 “Bloodfist” movies, both “CyberTracker” gems, “Future-Kick”, and “Terminal Rush”, and we’ll try and inform you about more of his work in the upcoming weeks.
It has one of those plots which you feel you’ve seen a dozen times before. There’s a family, and people wanting to kill them come to the door. The father – great “That Guy” actor James Lew – hides the kid, gives him a special item (in this case, a book with the names of all the vampires in it) and tells him under no circumstances to emerge from his hiding place, no matter what happens. Of course, the kid emerges and sees his family killed a gang of vampires, accompanied by one human who was originally a friend but was won to the dark side by regular doses of vampire blood which cured all his illnesses and gave him immortality. So, the kid escapes, and it’s…
…30 years later. The now-adult Jack Cutter (Wilson) is taking on a restaurant full of vampires, and does it pretty well. He’s crossing names out of his father’s book, which I’d probably make a spreadsheet out of, rather than carrying it round with me everywhere I go, in case it gets stolen or something, and kicking ass. This is standard Don “The Dragon” Wilson stuff, and it’s fun.
As he finishes his task, three strands of plot come together. There’s him, finishing his Dad’s task (he crosses the last name out of the book); there’s a reporter from a tabloid, Remy (Melanie Smith), come to town to investigate…no, don’t remember that bit, but you’re not going to go to your grave thinking “I wish Mark had told me what that reporter was doing in Night Hunter”; and there’s a whole bunch of vampires which apparently Cutter didn’t know about, including Bruno Fischer (Nicholas “brother of Christopher” Guest, doing a decent impression of said brother’s accent in “The Princess Bride”).
Remy believes Cutter immediately, but in coincidence news, she’s the spitting image of Fischer’s long-dead wife, so there’s a whole thing there. There’s a cop too, who tries to arrest Cutter before eventually believing him. And lots and lots of fights.
The action rips along, and while it’s not the greatest thing you’ll ever see, it’s fine. The camerawork is vaguely horrific, like the editor had “shaky-cam” mode on his equipment and accidentally dialled it up to 10 during the fight scenes (but only during the fight scenes) and the lighting seems a bit too dark, but it’s fine. You won’t be bored, is the important thing.
There’s some vampire weirdness. The family in the “cold open” don’t open their door after dark because of the vampire threat, but it turns out they can walk round in the daylight just fine too, and the only problem they have is a slight eye sensitivity, but as long as they wear sunglasses they’re fine. The way to kill them is not silver bullets, or a stake to the heart, but…breaking their back (well, Cutter says this, but he kills literally every vampire by breaking their neck, not their back).
There are a curious number of similarities between this and “Blade”, which didn’t come out for 2 years after this – I’m pretty sure they’re coincidental, but there are vampire council meetings, and a scene set in a nightclub full of vamps, and a more-powerful-than-human vampire killer. All this is likely to do is make you think “I wish I was watching Blade right now”.
It’s a good, solid bit of fun. You won’t be blown away by it, you won’t be adding this to your list of all-time great vampire movies, but you’ll have a decent time.
Rating: thumbs up