A Charlatan Who Surrounds Herself With Evil! “Vampz!” Review!


After countless interview screenings, Simone struggles to find a suitable roommate just like herself with an insatiable longing to be one of the undead, specifically, a vampire. As she strikes out applicant-after-applicant, her twin brother Sam persuades her to lock in on Ashlee, a beautiful, yet energetically ditzy cheerleader new to town who shows up late at night looking for a place of her own and with looming rent bills sucking her dry cash, Simone begrudging agrees on the dimwitted and un-vampiric prospect. Unbeknownst to Simone, one of her former screenings turns out to be a coked out vampire hunter and with Simone declaring herself a vampire during the screening, the oblivious and hopped up hunter’s ability to distinguish between the real McCoy and a wannabe has severely disintegrated as he aims to drive a long, wooden stake through her heart, but when the Hunter comes to claim his bounty, he inadvertently teams up with Simone and Ashlee against a tenebrous conspirator with a penchant for control of ghouls and monsters to not only save their lives, but also their friends.

“Vampz!” is the filmic version of a chaptered web series, that found a crowdfunded presence from circa 2012. Much like in the same vain as the “Hell’s Kitty” DVD release, “Vampz!” didn’t partake in any re-imagining, re-shoots, or even a re-cast for the movie; in fact, the so-called 2019 movie, helmed by director Ramsey Attia and scripted by Omar Attia and Lenoard Buccellato, is actually the web series spliced together to construct a 76 minute feature. To maintain comedy integrity that calls for hyperbolic reactions, profanity heavy dialogue, and some really nifty and amusing pop cultural intertwining, like Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody dialogue rendition had me biting my smirking lip in assurance, Attia and Buccellato’s script never deviates from course. There’s are also other subtle homages that can be easily identified throughout. Between the TV web series and the film, no cast alterations or implementations have been made and so all of the established humor from the web series is still engrained from the actors and having never seen “Vampz!’ the series, gauging what, if any, soul from the original product is lost in the nearly decade old translation cannot be confirmed, but “Vampz!” has resilient comedic bite, going for both canine fangs into the throat in the face of being an independent picture.

Lilly Lumière at the forefront with her character Simone Castillo, an aspiring bloodsucker in all its fashionably formulaic vampire glory without being the recently bastardized Hollywood version a.k.a. “Twilight” trilogy, becomes the eyeliner nucleus of the story. Lumière presents an eye rolling, goth decked out quasi-vampire with a die hard approach to the banal side of the vampire mythos. Simone becomes the BFF target of Ashlee, who from the depths of the night shows up at her doorstep seeking the room for rent. Ashlee doesn’t seem to be Simone’s type, a high-spirited cheerleader tryout who is new to town; in fact, Ashlee represents all that is distasteful to Simone’s undead facade. Christal Renee has the vivacious personality type to pull the give me a S-U-P-E-R hyped Ashlee! Then there is Denis Ark as psychotic vampire hunter Marcus Denning. Ark is not just certifiable on screen, but he’s also certified off screen as a personal fitness trainer. With 20+ years in martial arts and sports training, Ark tackles the moderately physical role with ease and provides some point blank comedy. “Vampz!” remaining cast of misfits include Louis Rocky Bacigalupo, Guy N. Ease, and Cliff Hunter.

Shot in Peterson, New Jersey, “Vampz!” has a very Jersey feel, not to be confused with having an Italian Jersey Shore feel, despite being just a hop, skip, and a jump across the water from New York and even with that chip on the shoulder emanating from off of the screen and on the penny-pinching, crowd funded budget, the web series is without a doubt well done. The humor is touch and go with some misguided antiquation, but the effects capitalizes over that portion of content, especially when a creature or two appear for their grand entrance into the storyline. “Vampz!” has solid special effects working heavily to lead the charge into turning what could have been ho-hum film into a quasi engaging creature feature that deviates from the staggering conventionalism and genre tropes.

MVDVisual and Ruthless Studios sinks their teeth into the A Rear Naked Studios Production of “Vampz!” releasing the Ramsey Attia horror-comedy onto DVD home video in its full web series storyline. Presented in a widescreen, 1.78:1 aspect ration, the region free disc picture doesn’t provide a flavorful presentation. Attia and his team went faux grindhouse approach by adding grain and “missing scenes” on a pseudo-polyester film base, but the film looks washed and uninviting with droll hues. The English language dual-channel stereo track lies above the fray image with ample range of ambient sounds and a prominent dialogue track. Depth hardly comes through with most of the ambient remaining on a level plane that doesn’t resonate elsewhere from between outside and inside the finale factory or in between room-to-room. There are no bonus features included on this DVD that has curious cover art. Front cover pictures a badly photoshopped composition of a short red haired woman wearing an boxy amulet overtop a cutoff top and drinking blood out of a martini glass with a plastic straw. There’s also a white snake wreathed around the V and A of “Vampz!” and the same snake is also wrapped around the shoulders of a silhouette figure on the back cover but there are no snakes in this film, nor is there an high class, red-headed vampires drinking blood out of a martini glass so the cover is misleading. “Vampz!” garnishes heart and soul of the modern classic horror creature while adding a cascading charm of moderate-to-light hearted comedy to mask the rough edges of a home grown brew grindhouse film thats bemusing to perceive from a deceptively cheap DVD cover art.

Click DVD cover to Purchase “Vampz!”

A Video Diary of Evil. “The Death of April” review!

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Megan Mullen, freshly out of college life, feels a strong urge to pick up and move from her comfortable California family home to the new surroundings of New Jersey. She can’t explain her why to move, but she quickly finds an apartment in East Rutherford where she settles in easily, creates a video journal for her friends and family back home, begins her new job as a school teacher, and gains a wonderful boyfriend. Everything seems to be going perfect for Megan until unexplainable, seemingly paranormal, acts happen in her apartment: doors open and close mysteriously, objects move on their own, and her soul doesn’t feel like her own. As she continues to her video journal, she further believes her apartment was once rented by April, a young girl similar to Megan who ended up brutally murdered and found on a riverbank, and that she is haunting her. This is Megan’s story told through a documentary revealed by her friends and family to the supernatural speculation of what causes Megan’s torment and downfall.
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In the spirit of new releases on or around horror’s big night of Halloween, Director Ruben Rodriquez’s 2012 paranormal mockumenatry “The Death of April” comes to life on for the first time on DVD from MVDVisual. Similar to the “Paranormal Activity” series, the pseudo documentary about a dangerous, abode dwelling spirit or spirits bombarding their supernatural havoc upon helpless inhabitants. While the release time is appropriate and has a modest appreciation for creepy atmospheres, “The Death of April” fails to bring something new to the genre table and I can’t see the easily overlooked “The Death of April” being the catalyst to spark more interest in a ghostly genre that becomes overpopulated, by the major studios, during the month of October.
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Backed finically by the Mojo Creative Group that was founded by Ruben Rodriguez, the mockumentary introduces a modest talent of actors and actresses including Katarina Hughes as Megan Mullen. Hughes, in her first feature film, delivers the much needed energy to a slow, stagnant script, but the contrast exaggerates Katarina’s overzealous happy-new-girl-moving-to-a-different-coast attitude. Her co-stars Adam Lowder as her brother Stephen Mullen, The Knick’s Chelsea Clark as her best friend, RayMartell Moore as her boyfriend Tim, and Stephanie Domini as her mother, who by the way looks almost the same age as Megan, sold their story, their take, of Megan’s downward events. That being said, Lowder, Clark, Moore, and Domini couldn’t lift the script out of the deep trenches of the uninteresting and mechanical motions.
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The script, which was also written by Ruben Rodriguez, could be considered to contain two interpretations, one literal and the other more concealed. The more literal interpretation is my least favorite of the two. Megan’s family constantly disowns the fact that she might actually be haunted by an apartment spirit; in fact, her family and friends negatively pelt her with denials and accusations, never once considering Megan’s theories of an aggressive April spirit. This is where the script becomes redundant as Megan’s brother Stephen and also her mother Stephanie reiterate over and over about how close their relationship with Megan was and how she had firm family roots in California and also proclaim the excuses of how she’s looking for attention or not coping with a new surrounding very well. Rodriguez’s script suffers by not displaying alternate ways in exploring how her family and friends should handle Megan’s paranoia or paranormal problem. Even when they’re is undeniable video proof with the video starting to distort and capturing uncontrollable movements from inanimate objects, nobody believes Megan and that would drive anybody to the loony bin. The second interpretation with, perhaps, a more underlying metaphor is that Megan is slowly going nuts. Her brother Stephen does mention her previous slightly creepy issues with Megan before her big impulsive move to the east coast. Almost like her impulsiveness and her energy-filled antics seemed manic and her sanity practically dissolved when she moved thousands of miles away from her support group in California. Megan’s mind could have invented April and her family, knowing that she’s had weird issues in the past, chalks this up to just being another mental issue. Of course, the video diary proof, even with her brother and friend witnesses, nearly excludes the second theory and that her “desire” to move far away from her family stems from April pulling her in that direction.
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“The Death of April” won’t make waves on the PKE meter. The picture quality of the MVDVisual and ITN distribution DVD release looks clean considering that most scenes had intentional video quality posterization and distortion for the web and home video diary appearance. The front cover art is slightly misleading with a foreboding, rundown gothic style house in the background when actually Megan lives in a sectioned off duplex apartment in a suburban neighbor of a New Jersey home that doesn’t look necessarily evil at all. Also, who I’m guessing is spirit of April on the front cover with a Ouija board in her clutches sports sexy booty denim shorts as if to lure a certain audience to the release. We’re not sold on “The Death of April” as too many before it’s time have come across and planted their seed and sprouted firm in place.