“I’ve come across a lot of vampire bats up along the Yoanoke river. Them, I could kill. I just don’t like things that suck your blood and stay for conversation afterwards.”
My love affair with Larry Cohen continues. Cohen’s movies always feel super unpolished and kind of broken, but they’re also always so full of thematic depth and great lines that it doesn’t really matter.
In this nominal sequel to Tobe Hooper’s Stephen King adaptation, the always amazing and bizarre Michael Moriarty stars as an asshole/documentarian/bad father who is captured by the vampires of a sleepy Maine town and hired to write their Bible/documented proof of existence – theoretically his credibility as a non-fiction filmmaker will give credence to his words years down the line.
Pretty soon, one of my favourite directors, occasional actor, and all around lunatic Samuel Fuller shows up as an ageing, luger-wielding nutso who can be summed up in one line: “I’m not a nazi hunter, I’m a nazi killer.” As he’s arrived, however, he’s run out of nazi’s to kill, so vampires will have to act as a replacement.
From his appearance onwards, everything goes to hell as Moriarty and Fuller go about trying to save Moriarty’s son and murder all the vampires.
“You better sit down, you’re losing a lot of blood.”
“I got more blood than I need.”
Cohen uses all his genre trappings for a typically fantastic allegory – in this case that of sectionalism in the United States, and the bad sides of patriotism. These vampires give Moriarty a chance to live simply among them as long as he doesn’t infringe upon their way of life. Though we recognise that the vampires are arguably bad folk, that refusal to assimilate goes both ways; sure the vampires won’t follow the American way of life, but Moriarty and Fuller would rather kill them than let them live on their own as well. A climactic image of the film involves a vampire being staked with an American flag, and I think that speaks for itself.
Assimilate or die, die or assimilate.
But beyond all of the complexity and ideology at the heart of this, it’s just a fucking blast. Most of my notes are just choice lines from the thing. And the vampire effects aren’t too bad either.
As a last moment, I give you this:
“Suicide’s for nazi sonsofbitches.”
Damn straight, Samuel Fuller. Damn straight.