While at a Spanish night club, Lucy meets a darkly tall and handsome gentleman who takes her back to his luxurious yacht and spends a romantic night with him inside his cabin on the sea. The next morning, Lucy suffers from a terrible case of amnesia, unable to recall where she’s met this mysterious man before or even remember her own past and as she relaxes in her hotel room after a soothing bath, a past life vision of herself entangled with her one night stand, otherwise known as Dracula, establishes her place amongst Dracula’s side as his undead love, but vampire hunters, Doctor Van Helsing and his faithful assistant Seward, are hot on Dracula’s scent toward his brooding castle in order to save Lucy from succumbing to Dracula’s cursed evil forever.
“Apostle of Dracula” is a Spanish retelling of the classic Bram Stoker “Dracula” tale, versed in Edgar Allan Poetry, and is directed and co-written by Emilio Schargorodsky. Also known more in other parts of the world as “Dracula 0.9,” Schargorodsky’s film boldly tiptoes through a minimalistic approach regarding the mythos of the legendary vampire that dabbles in some special effects when required and uncomplicated imagery that still relishes in wondrous imagery. The “Spirits of the Dead” poetic works of American macabre writer Edgar Allan Poe reinforces the Gothically garnished settings and costumes and heightens the gloomy sensationalism in Schargorodsky’s melodramatic horror soap opera that redesigns slightly Dracula’s origins and his infatuating love interest that isn’t Mina Murray.
Instead, Dracula’s focus is resuscitating the undead cursed life into Lucy dreamily and elegantly portrayed by model-actress Nathalie Le Gosles. Le Gosles has ghostly grey eyes that pierce vividly on screen through her Lucy Westerna performance that’s quite different than what audiences might be typically used to in the character. Lucy is the titular character, being the “Apostle of Dracula,” and Dracula (Javier Caffarena) spares no expense or time and effort in making Lucy his forever. Caffarena’s Dracula is very much overshadowed by Le Gosles’s beauty and performance as Caffarena’s acting experience before his freshman film only credits him in on other role in a short film directed by Schargorodsky, but Caffarena’s a busy body on this feature, delving into many facets from cast to crew as also one of the three co-writers and also donning not only the cape and fangs of the vampire but also creating a composing soundtrack, editing the film, and acting as a producer. In all honest, Paul Lapidus stole the show with his role as the most famous vampire hunter that was ever created – Van Helsing. Virtually embracing every facet of his time hopping character, along with the rest of the cast, Lapidus’s steadfast approach toward a more conventional Van Helsing relieves many anxieties of jumbling up Dracula’s mythology. Antonia Del Rio, Francisco Del Rio, Jose Luis Matoso, and Virginia Palomino round out the cast.
Schargorodsky’s indie Gothic Dracula feature is not immaculate; however, because Schargorodsky is an experienced photographer, a silver lining in his filmmaking playbook is his impeccable eye for cinematography. Whether in the framing or capturing the organic beauty of the landscape, Schargorodsky blends a dream with classic styles that had once scared the pants off people by incorporating shadow imagery that pays a dear homage to that of F.W. Murnau’s “Nosferatu” alongside Caffarena’s Dracula shaving his head and extending his fingers to be a lookalike Max Schrek. Captivating as many of the frames might be, the juxtaposition to the story doesn’t hold water as the story hops from one century to another without much regard for exposition. Lucy’s passionate yacht fling with a daylight walking vampire not only raises many vampire mythos questions, but also leads into Lucy displacing much of her memories of herself and her past. She then goes into a trance after returning to her hotel room, envision her great lineage self intertwined with Dracla and that story unfolds for a good portion of the film from the time Lucy’s bit to when Van Helsing and Seward interject at Dracula’s Castle. The story then returns Lucy’s back to present time where she then fights to urge to be a bloodsucker, but can’t stop her desires to be with her undead beau all the while a modern day Van Helsing and Seward, sporting sleek Secret Service-issues shades and wardrobe, seek to protect Lucy at all cost. Lost somewhere in the midst of the story is an important pice of the puzzle that goes unexplained.
Wild Eye Releasing MVDVisual present the 2012 “Apostle of Dracula” onto DVD for the first time in the U.S. The DVD, graced with a cover illustrating an unrelated naked female vampire crotched down and glaring outward, widescreen presentation sports a digitally shot transfer that fairly mediocre throughout despite soft details, faint aliasing, and spotty moments of digital noise during darker scenes. However, the worst technical aspect lies with the dialogue audio track that’s horrendously dubbed in non-optional English in such a flat, monotone voice that all the passion behind the actors is lost. If you watch close in the special features, clips of untainted portions of the film can be caught with the original Spanish track, bringing a whole new life into the scenes. There are no options to play the original language or even optional subtitles. Caffarena’s looming score comes out clean with subtitle details in the LFE emitting from Stereo audio which can be seen discussed on the bonus material about composing the score. Another special features contain a pleasant surprise with a never before scene interview with the late Jess Franco, who looked to be on his death bed, conversing his positive thoughts and praises on Emilio’s film that does have a faint resemblance to Franco’s work consisting of elements, but not limited to, the gothic, dream-like, and slightly sleazy. Bonus material comes full circle with Wild Eye Releasing trailers. Emilio Schargorodsky’s self-funded Dracula film proves any filmmaker can be a auteur without losing focus despite some flaws being on the grand stage of an iconic horror monster and while “Apostle of Dracula” flips the script on Bram Stoker’s telling of one of the greatest villains ever scribed, there’s something to be said for the multiple ways to skin a cat in this and still able to construct a solid story in this European horror.
Prior to my viewing of Black Water Vampire, the conclusion that I’ve succumb to will tell that I’m one reviewer who thinks found footage horror has been well used and abused through the valleys of independent film to the hills of the Hollywood mainstream market. Though the technique has been ridden hard through the past decade, the touch of realism can still be felt. Black Water Vampire doesn’t stray too far from it’s found footage ancestors as far as horror elements in these types of movies go, but what Black Water Vampire may be weak on, their strength lies with in the producing of bone-chilling and fear-inducing effects that turn your perspective on vampire films to a whole different direction.
Over numerous decades, four women went missing on December 21st and found several days later, dead and drained of blood, near the Black Water Creek. An aspiring journalist enlists three of her friends to create a documentary on the killings and to prove to the world that suspected killer and death row inmate Raymond Banks has been unjustly locked up for the four murders. Their investigation leads them into more than what they expected – a more dangerous and darker path has been set at the stake of their lives.
Freshman director Evan Tramel sets up Black Water Vampire nicely as a true documentary, interviewing friends and families of the victims, asking retired case workers about the investigation of the past victims, having a one-on-one chat with inmate Raymond Banks, and even trekking to the snowing hills of Black Water to capture the essence of Banks’ isolated cabin. This set up takes about a good portion of the film and though typically this might be the dullest part of the movie, the beginning is a good set up for these characters: Danielle – a passionate journalist looking for the truth, Andrea – a producer who feels compelled about the unfair persecution of Raymond Banks, Anthony – a camera man looking to get paid, and Robin – a friend helping out a friend. Funny enough is that all the characters’ names are actually the names of the actors too: Danielle Lozeau, Andrea Adams, Anthony Russell, and Robin Allen.
When all hell goes loose and things get berserk, the investigators discover a true vampire, bat-like humanoid, hunting them down for more than just to feed. The cat and mouse game between predator and prey had me going, but when the bat creature feels the need to reproduce is where I get a little weary about the story. An atomically frightening atmosphere being isolated in a snow-filled forest, but when you start introducing a horny vampire and a conspiracy notions, a viewer will tend to forget what they’re watching and start to wonder what the hell and why the hell their watching. This feeling succumbs at the movie’s end and though I found solace in an original ending, I couldn’t help to think the pain other viewers, especially red blooded horror fans, would think about this ending.
The acting was par for the course and the actors did a good enough to job to pass for scared shitless, but I found the vampire to be the real star. Brandon DeSpain‘s performance as the creature of the night could scare the pants off Van Helsing himself. DeSpain’s vampire was relentless, none compassionate, visceral, and animalistic. I had a hard to time trying to piece together the relation between the specific date of December 21st and the vampire’s killings. Why the first day of solstice? The acting becomes a little drowned out by other plot mysteries such as a homeless woman wondering the woods and doesn’t speak to the investigators. Her presence and the “oh geez” ending are never explained and there were no breadcrumbs given to help explain.
Image Entertainment brings this unique take of vampire horror to UK DVD on March 24. Check it out and come to a conclusion yourself, but be forewarned that you’ve never experienced a vampire film like this one. Don’t let the Image Entertainment cover fool you with a big breasted woman being covered in blood as there lies nothing similar to that at all in the film.
Danielle Lozeau – Full Frontal