Horror Flick of the Week: Angel of the Night (1998)

I’d like to start this off with a very special ‘thank you’ to gohastings.com, for always having the most random movies at ridiculously cheap prices. This is not an advertisement, I’m not telling you to buy anything there, because it really is all random. They have a bunch of previously-viewed dvd’s come in and out of sale, and they cost anywhere from less than a buck to about ten, which isn’t a bad deal if you know what you’re buying, and it still pretty awesome even if you don’t know. Compiling a list of cheapies, I did not know, nor did I do any research on this movie, because I’m a thrill-seeker. Anyway, onto the review.

This started off as a student picture, apparently, but the short film did so well that the director was able to expand it into a feature-length film. It cost about $700,000 in all. Cast and crew could not all be paid upfront, but the picture managed to pull through. It’s kind of an inspiration, in a way, thinking of all the younger people involved making this into an actual movie, when a majority of them seemed to have major schedule conflicts, and an awful lot of this was filmed after midnight. Maybe a few other independent filmmakers need to take a page from this book, and use vampires more often?

Rebecca is a young woman who’s gone back to her family home, after having inherited it. She brings along with her an ancient tome with really big writing on the front, and a 3d-picture. That’s how you can tell it’s ancient and fancy, by the way.

She’s brought along some friends with her, and decides to tell them the story in her book of a young priest who was forced to do battle with a ‘vampire’ to protect his family and town. Unfortunately, he kills the thing, but gets nipped in the process. I use the word ‘vampire’ loosely, because the monster actually resembles more of a werewolf-monkey, but I digress. Here are some pretty pictures to illustrate the story.

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He is then transformed into ‘RICO MORTIZ, CREATURE OF THE NIGHT!’ I think that’s how vampires work, right? You grow long hair and change ethnicity? Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s the thing.

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Back to the present, Rebecca reveals that Richard was actually her great grandfather, thus effectively killing everyone’s buzz. She proceeds to mention there are family secrets in the cellar, and everyone decides to do the smart thing. They go check out the cellar. There they find the world’s fanciest lawn ornament, the very stake Richard used to slay the vampire.

Rebecca tells yet another story, and I’ll admit I was starting to get scared this would be one long narrative summary. But then there’s a throwdown with guns, stakes, crosses, and fangs…which I’m always a sucker for. That brings me to one major point, the fangs are just fantastic in this movie. So often, I find I can’t get into a vampire movie unless the teeth look real and sharp. As you can see in Rico’s shot above, they’re beautiful.

In less than twenty minutes, this second story is rattled off, yet somehow makes me fall in love with a character who dies in an even shorter time. Also, hippie Billy Idol vampire. Hippie and Billy Idol…two terms I never thought I’d use in the same sentence. Well-played, mister director. Well-played.

Anyway, though I’d like to repeat I HATE when movies are filled with narrative bits (you know, like someone was written in to explain chunks of the movie, because they either ran out of money, or couldn’t write a script with a coherent line of events), buuuuut…this one kind of wins me over. Probably because the fights really are awesome. This is even stranger, because I also don’t usually like fight scenes either.

Rebecca does manage to finish talking, finally, and then (wouldn’t you know it) it turns out Rico’s coffin is in that very cellar. A freak accident occurs, and Rebecca gets a small cut…the blood drips into the coffin, boom. Instant return of Rico. Kind of. Eventually. It’s a little bit more complicated, with some accidental incantations, and lots of chit-chat. Another story, too. In the process of the story, Rico is vampire Richard, I guess? I suspect it’s because Richard is hella more attractive. Even with fangs.

…Kind of.

You get the drift, though.

There’s nothing really original here. Absolutely nothing. You can probably guess how it’s going to go, once the bad guy returns, and all hell breaks loose. Even so, it’s a fun ride. The pacing is pretty good, and there are certainly less draggy moments than you’d expect from a small picture. Long story short, it’s fun, and it knows it’s fun. Maybe I wouldn’t pay for a Criterion edition (should there ever somehow be one), but I’d definitely recommend at least watching this once, if you feel like you’ve already seen every other vampire movie on the planet, or need to wash the bad taste of Twilight out of your mouth. Then again, you should have known better, and only have yourself to blame for that one.

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