harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,
harsens_rob
harsens_rob

movie reviewed: Grave of the Vampire (p2 of 2)

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Scene 32: Later, Caleb is wandering the stacks at a library some ways away from the local campus (smart!). He's come to hunt down the book that Anita mentioned about his former lives. But as he tells the librarian that he'd like to check out the book to take with him, she informs him she can't let it leave, as it is for reference only.

He informs her of his professor status, and asks to borrow it for a day or two. She's (apparently... his aura-powers seem very hit or miss, and random) taken by him enough to allow bring the book to the desk. And, his apparent affect on her causes her to let down her cascading head of hair. She smiles coquettishly at him, but then, to his surprise, tells him he really does have go go now, as she leads him to the door.

He mentions the book, but she informs him that the library has very strict rules about reference materials and she can't make any exceptions. He turns angry at her for leading him into thinking that he'd be allowed to take the book with him, but she denies this. He argues that she led him on with her hair and her eyes [she was definitely and baldly flirting with him, so maybe it isn't an aura thing... it's hard to tell wth mental powers he does or doesn't have].

He shouts that she was using him, and he's not one to be used. She yells at him to go, but instead he wraps his hands around her throat, and fangs out.





Commentary: And... uh... you're not being internally consistent, damn it. We've seen him until now using tools to get at the throat of his victims, suggesting that the fangs can't be uses offensively. But here, with his leering face leaning in full of teeth before cutting away, it is definitely all-but-confirmed that yes, the vampires can use their fangs to tear out a throat [which makes sense - a person's teeth can do the same, if the attacker has the will - see Rick Grimes], so why was the fanging so studiously avoided up until now?

And was Paul actually bit to death? I thought his throat had been slashed before the bite, but I just can't go back now.

I really feel like the vampire needed to be better defined along the way, so we'd know what rules we're operating under.

Obvs, strength and a desire to avoid sunlight is in effect. But the charming aura, the fang use, and the weird three year gap between when Caleb died and when he resurrected are all fuzzy details.



Scene 33: Elsewhere, a party is going on. This is at Anita and Anne's place, where James has been invited.

Anita immediately turns flirtatious, trying to get James to dance but he's not into it. She therefore dances for him as he stands there conspicuously out-of-place.

[Being the 70's, there are some unfortunate clothing choices and that poor balding white guy trying to cover it with his overlong hair... it's all so embarrassing to witness. I am digging William Smith's head of hair, though. And the black woman with the close-crop hair and burgendy jumpsuit-thing looks fabulous.]

After a moment, she leads James to a sitdown. There she shows James a book of mutual interest - the book she also got their vampire interested in. Anita makes the wild claim that she agrees with the author that Charles Croyden and Caleb Croft are on and the same. Seeing his reaction, she intuits that he knows more than even the author did, and now wonders if their professor doesn't know more than he let on. She also intuits that he and/or the professor may know more about one another as well. James is a little taken aback by how much she's putting together with so little exposure to the situation (I'll explain in commentary, but there may be a reason this isn't as out-of-thin-air, ass-pull as it's seeming).

After a tense moment of deep considering, James waves away her weird concern. Anita says that there is something alike with Professor Lockwood and James... and they both remind her of Croyden/Croft. She says she'd swear that James was a vampire if she hadn't seen him wandering around in sunlight earlier.

Whatever she's noticed, or feels, is enough for her to put a kiss on him. [Honestly, I don't know what is going on with Diane Holden's performance or the direction she was given. She's acting like Anita may be mildly stoned. Which, being the 70's, wouldn't exactly be a shock -- but we've seen no indication of any smoking of grass going on. The whole scene is being very weirdly played.]

Anita senses James extreme reticence in her affection, and poutily says that she's turning him off. James apologizes, but before he can broach an explanation that would soothe her hurt ego, Anne comes home from shopping.


Commentary: SO. I -think- that this scene is just badly set up and written to get Anita in danger by joining James in his quest for the vampire at some point. But there is enough going on in the background, and the weird acting, to suggest that it's possible Anita is mildly psychic in some way, including a giant poster of the Tarot Card, 'The Magician' hanging on the wall near her when she first speaks with James.

You could at least make the argument that Anita's bizarre conclusion that vampires are real and that there is something going on between Adrian and James that she doesn't understand is due to this psychic ability. But it isn't made explicit, and so it's also possible they're short-cutting her initial involvement to get to her and Anne being mutually endangered by Caleb.



Scene 34: She's unpleased to see a party going on, and Anita tries to apologize that her "few friends" listening to records turned into a bigger thing. But Anne tells her that she's just tired. Anita asks if Professor Lockwood wore her out, and Anne accuses her of listening to some gossip. But Anita points out that Anne let her know she was going to look up the professor before she left for the day.

At this, Anne shares that Adrian is apparently still quite affected by the death of his wife, Sara. And he found something familiar in her with the dead woman. It seems to have put her off.

James thanks Anita for the invite and goes to leave. But she asks them to hold on a moment. She points out that Anne was planning on cooking dinner, and she won't have the space to or enough for all the people in the apartment. She points out that James lives just above them, and suggests that Anne and he have dinner.


Commentary: So, despite some weird acting, and Anita having such an immediate font of knowledge about something so ridiculous, that is nevertheless relatively true, I ended up really liking Anita right here. When it's obvs that James just isn't that into her, she recognizes that Anne is attracted to him, and suggests that maybe they could connect all with a charming subtlety that I really found engaging.

I do believe we have to head-canon that she is somewhat psychic though, or her shoehorn into James' greater story isn't making any sense. I don't buy that whoever authored a book that included a chapter on a Charles/Caleb connection could possibly have overwhelming evidence enough to get Anita immediately considering that the two men are the same, despite their ages they lived in... It almost has to be that she's AWARE, and it just isn't being made explicit.



Scene 35: After Anne and James leave, she turns back to her party with wistful smiling. But then something Anne said causes her to do a double take. She repeats Sara's name, and then returns to that book chapter on Charles Croyden. She finds that yes, Charles' wife was Sara. She then repeats Croyden/Croft/Lockwood to herself, wondering [or in my head canon, getting more psychic insight, to make her place in this story at this point make sense].


Scene 36: Upstairs, Anne and James have some mildly uncomfortable conversation as Anne prepares to cook some pasta, that James declines to share in. But he is willing to have a glass of wine with her.

When Anne goes to the 'kitchenette - if you want to be generous', she finds a plate with a half missing raw steak sitting on it. [Both weird for her, and rather clumsy for James since he was literally just there, and you'd think that he would've surrepticiously slipped it into the fridge. Also it's weird that he'd even have a piece of steak hanging around, since the implication is that James can't eat normally, and relies on blood. If he'd only had the steak for the blood, why would he leave it sitting on a plate? And why would half of it be missing, unless he can eat meat -- he just prefers it very raw.

Which isn't a problem, except for the extreme clumsiness of leaving it lying around unattended, which is stupid.]


She asks if he has a dog or cat, and he chuckles that the meat is his, leaving her with a curious, "Oh...".


Scene 37: Anne returns with two glasses, and they share a few sips of wine in slightly awkward silence. [Well, presumably except for Anne's growling stomach.]

Anne brings up their ages and how they aren't really fitting in with the bongo-drum fans downstairs. She then tells him that she's just not up to stuffing herself with speghetti and shoots a smile in his direction. They share googly eyes and then Anne makes a move. Kiss-Kiss.


Commentary: Another scene that is just awkwardly played. But I think that is down to the florid music that is just awful.

And the fact, that there isn't instant chemistry coming off the screen between William and Lyn. Romance was really unneeded in this tale of long-delayed vengeance for existing between James and Caleb. It feels wandering, and pulling focus onto secondary characters, rather than remaining on James hunting down Caleb, and Caleb's eventual realizing what is happening, and why and coming up with a response.

A little bit of a tighter pace by shortening the runtime a bit would've helped, too.



Scene 38: Elsewhere, our vampire-baddie is reading through his purloined book with amusement. He then seems to drift...


Scene 39: Back with Anne and James, they're making sweet, sweet love.


Commentary: Re-read my complaints about the ambiguous mind powers going on. Is this indicating that somehow Caleb is sensing that Anne is off playing with James? Is he sensing this because of his interest in Anne, or because of the blood tie with James? Is he not actually sensing any of this, and it's just a weird editing choice that doesn't make sense in an effort to try to add some sort of psychic-something that wasn't in the original script?


Scene 40: Back with Adrian/Caleb/Charles, he grabs up his coat to rush out into the evening.


Scene 41: Back with Anne, where she has fallen into a post-bonk sleep. James stares down at her, his focus drawn to her pulsing neck artery, tempting him. He finds his fingertips feeling the pulse under her skin, and then bends down to place his mouth against the pulse-point.





He's able to do nothing more than kiss her throat, before returning attention to her sleeping lips. She awakes, and then asks him to never get aggressive with his passion, as she felt so safe with him during their sweet, sweet love making.


Commentary: So, Anne must have an interesting back story of assault in her past. It's again, not explicit, but her dialog is too odd and specific for there to not be a reason behind it. I'm not sure if I want to get the details, or if I like that she's not data-dumping her past trauma and is just letting us read between the lines.

Both Anne and Anita are being made more interesting by the amount of ambiguousness going on around their character backstories.



Scene 42: Apparently outside of the campus housing building, Caleb is being a creeper [solidifying the implication that yes, he was getting some psionic message about his interest, Anne, shagging that mouthy student of his].

[Uh. Maybe.]


Scene 43: It's sometime later after the party has disbanded and Anita lies restlessly in bed. She seems to sense something out in the dark, and sits up to gaze out her bedroom window questioningly.

We flash to Caleb doing an intense staredown at the building, implying that he's actually more interested in Anita than Anne (maybe their ambiguous mind powers are ambiguousing together with each other... I don't know, it's so undefined!) as we see Anita put on a housecoat in her bedroom.


Commentary: And again, I'm hating this library music. It too intrusive because of its volume, and it's too soap-opera.


Scene 44: As Anita turns to brushing out her hair, Caleb has entered the apartment building and is stalking up the stairs.

Anita has opened the door to his approach and stands waiting for him. [Okay. Yes, he has mind whammies, but they're not consistently strong. It appears that he can, even remotely, summon a victim but he can't hold them acquiescent once instinct kicks in that they're in danger. Now, please don't counterdict this movie, because I'm having enough trouble grasping what rules these vamps are playing by.]

As Anita turns on the light, Caleb is actually surprised to find her standing there for him, rather than Anne. Anita seems to sense that she isn't who "Adrian Lockwood" was expecting, and explains that Anne isn't in the apartment. Anita further volunteers that she suspects she's spending the night with James Eastman.

Anita confronts the Professor on visting her apartment at 3am, telling him she knows why he's lurking about for Anne at this time of morning. He tries to confirm she can be mature enough to be discreet in his interest in Ms. Arthur, but Anita laughs lightly and tells him that he almost sounds human.

He's unamused by her weird sense of humor, and she explains that she's heavily invested in researching the black arts and confirms that not only does she believe that Croyden and Croft were the same person, and a vampire, but that she also believes that 'Lockwood' is another pseudonym for the same man.

He accuses her of having a wild imagination, but she ignores this. She tells him straight up that she wants him to make her a vampire, slowly mixing his blood with hers until she becomes his bride to faithfully serve him for eternity [Jeezus. This is coming out of left field! She's not only weird and probably psychic, but she's an idiot, too].

Adrian tells Anita that if he were such an immortal creature, doesn't she think that an eternity would turn their relationship stale. But Anita tells him that she prides herself on her imagination. She assures him that "entertainment would be kept in flow". She also semi-attempts to blackmail him by pointing out that she could scream right now, and the halls would be filled with people in moments. He'd be dismissed from his position immediately, just by being in her apartment at this hour of the night.

But she says that she won't scream, because he is Charles Croyden, and "they" took his wife Sara from him. She wants to take her place [which seems extraordinarily tone-deaf, considering Sara was his beloved, and she's just some kooky bitch trying to blackmail him into immortality for herself].

She then lays an "I love you, Charles" on him and begins deep kissing him. He goes along with this for a moment, as she then begins to beg him to take her. He admits to her that he is Caleb and Charles, and that he'll give her what she wants. He tells her that they'll begin on bringing her over the following night at his home.

Anita makes sure the hall is clear for him to slip out again, but while she's doing so, we see the vampire grab up a knife sitting out from the party. Anita comes back in, all dreamy smiling at him. This changes when he shocks a gasp from her by snatching her by her hair and bringing the knife across her windpipe with a slash.





Commentary: Okay, if nothing else, I've got to give this movie some originality points. I thought Anita would be the slave-bride, changed only to provide access and trickery to get Charles his true objective, Anne. And that Anita would end up staked by James at some point, when he has to rescue Anne from being changed in the way Anita was pining for in the ol' reincarnation trope.

But I really liked how effortlessly and quickly Anita's vampire fantasy is shown to be so simplistic and overly-romanticised with her efficient brutal killing. And not with any kind of love bite bullcrap, either.

This whole scene started out weird, and I was shocked that Anita wasn't drawing Caleb in to do away with him, but to join him. But I really, really liked how it ended!

This movie could've definitely used some FX, though, and having a practical effect of the knife slash and seeing Anita's eyes widen in shocked betrayal of her fuzzy fantasy would've been awesome to spend some money on. Alas it's all offscreen.



Scene 45: Sometime later, James walks Anne back down to her own apartment, with her making googly eyes at him.

She tells him at her door, that she doesn't expect a followup and isn't obliging him to call on her again. But she's also not shutting the door on the possibility, either.

He's left standing with nothing to say at that.


Scene 46: Inside her apartment, Anne starts a shower running, and then begins to undress. Since she does all of this in the dark, she isn't aware that Adrian/Caleb/Charles hasn't left... and the fact that he's a rapist isn't making me feel good about what is coming up [but since most everything has been just out of frame, I'm hoping this will be too].

In the bathroom, Anne has turned on a light to check her skin in the mirror. She returns to the running shower.

She rinses her hair, before turning around in the stall, to find Anita's bloodless corpse propped against the wall!





With this horror, Anne collapses in the corner of the shower, not even being able to scream. But it only gets worse, as she looks up to find Adrian's leering at her in amusement through the transparent shower door!

She does start yelling wordlessly then, as Adrian starts to open the shower door. But then, Adrian seems to sense something because he changes his mind and dashes out of the bathroom.


Commentary: This was also an excellent scene. And the grey makeup on Diane was excellently done. It was only slightly let down by more of that stock music, and by Lyn's inability to properly scream-queen her way through.


Scene 47: The reason for Adrian's retreat becomes obvious as he must've heard/sensed James rushing down from upstairs in response to either Anne's yells (which seems unlikely) or due to his own psychic sense that his vampire target is near (which is where my head canon will be, unless dialog ruins it).

James runs into Anne's apartment, and rushes to the bathroom shower, where Anne can still be heard sobbing in terror. He sees the gag-gift that his father left for her.

James wraps Anne into a bathrobe and carries her sobbing out of the room.


Scene 48: Sometime later (in a horribly done jump cut) we're with Anne sitting on a lounge chair. She opens her eyes and we see James walking. They're apparently at the James' house, inherited from his mother(s).

She's joined also by a medium and her boyfriend, Sam. They're there because they hope to contact the undead Lockwood later that evening via seance at the Professor's place. The medium is our comic-relief, cake obsessive who is oddly bubbly callous toward Anne's ordeal.

(At least I'm guessing. The introduction of these characters, and Anne lounging around is all horribly and confusingly done, including whether we're at James' or Caleb's place. As is the introduction of a seance when we should have James rampaging toward his father before he could disappear again for the final fight. This is just... an out-of-place story turn.)

We find out that Carol is mostly interested because of the vampire connection, and she shows off the crucifix she brought along, despite being Jewish, with self-deprecating amusement. Sam is the skeptic, but willing to keep an open mind when all is said and done.


Scene 49: We cut (too rapidly and clumsily again... obvs, the editor wanted to get this finished) to the Professor's abode, where presumably the seance is being set up below him, even as he rouses still in the house upstairs.

[No! This isn't making sense. Damn it, is this going to be one of those stories that have my interest just to blow it at the end. How in the hell is 'Lockwood' even still here? After Anne surely reported the murder of her roommate and her being terrorized by Adrian, surely the police would've had the entire property torn apart for evidence. And why would "Lockwood" have stayed, when James' very first dialog implied that Caleb had been on the move from campus to campus -- this would sure as hell be the time for him to pull a disappearing act. And why are we playing with seances to contact the undead Caleb? Since when does a vampire answer the seance-phone-calls? And why are we introducing two new side characters when James and Caleb should be actively warring with one another right now? I'm annoyed with this.]

Caleb leaves the not at all suspicious, so not investigated room behind the steel reinforced door, now that night has fallen, leaving his coffin waiting. He glides down the staircase.

[WAIT, WTF?!]

Caleb enters the drawing room, to find all of the seance attendees, including Anne and James waiting for him. Apparently, he has put together this seance.

[I have no idea what is happening! Why is Anne here? Did she not recognize Adrian through her shower door? Is James playing along with not knowing that Adrian is his target, or does he not realize despite earlier indications that the Professor is the vampire he seeks? I'm assuming that Adrian has arranged this sceance as part of his myth class, but this entire setup is out of place after Anita's killing. Unless this is Anne's attempt to reach out to Anita about her murder, but why involve her classmates? I have no idea why we're doing this now in the movie.]

So. Caleb goes on to say that Anne is going to act as medium, as he'd been testing his students for suggestibility (mostly off screen) and found those present to be the most open (or, uh, gullible). Sam protests that he doesn't believe in this hocus-pocus (which must make his being with medium Carol interesting), but Adrian tells Sam that he welcomes passion in either direction for this night's activities.

(This feels like an entire section of the movie was moved during editing! Like this should have all happened earlier.)


Scene 50: So the seance starts with Caleb basically putting a suggestive trance on his six students. But he sense resistence from one, who everyone assumes is the skeptic, Sam, despite his insistence he's cooperating.

When everyone is ready, the point of 'Adrian' calling the seance together is made more clear. As is his choice of Anne as medium over the more sensible choice of Carol. Charles/Adrian's real purpose is to summon his dead wife from the ether to take possession of Anne's body. And as the summoning is going on, it becomes clear that the point is for her not to give it up afterwards... which nobody objects to, strangely enough.

[Okay. I have to address this whole scene because it really didn't make any sense to me, but I think I've got it: So, Charles wants to summon his dead wife Sara to take control of the body that reminded him of her. Anne herself didn't recognize Adrian as her tormentor through the semi-transparent shower door, probably due to the extreme horror of the situation, explaining why she'd be here at all. James is pretty sure that Charles/Caleb/Adrian is the vampire father he seeks, but he needs to have definitive proof before he acts, which he hasn't come across yet -- mostly due to his not actually doing anything about investigating Adrian Lockwood in order to have enough to confront him as being Caleb Croft and a vampire. The other students are just here because they're the most developed/most gullible of his students to help Charles/Caleb/Adrian reach and pull his wife down to this plain, and take control of Anne.

Since Anne didn't recognize Lockwood through her terrorization and shock at finding Anita, life pretty much went on after her murder with Lockwood being able to continue his plan -- perhaps a plan that he's been attempting through all of his various positions at differing school campuses for who knows how long, but at least years. And now he's finally found Anne, the replacement body which will also reveal to James that he was correct about having found his father.

And all of this has been suddenly, jarringly badly written and handled as we're finally reaching the end of the runtime.]


As Caleb continues to summon Sara, Anne react physically.





Scene 51: But when Anne speaks, it's not with Sara's voice, nor her own. The assembled group recognizes the voice of their dead classmate, Anita!

Anita tells Charles that Sara failed him, but that she crawled the floors of hell to get back to him, as his only true love (I had no inkling of just what a crazy beyotch Anita was, and is!). James butts in to demand the truth be told about Charles Croyden and Caleb Croft, and Adrian realizes it was James who was fighting him. And not randomly, but specifically in summoning the spirit of Anita in Sara's place.

James wants Anita to tell them about Croyden/Croft/Lockwood being the same man & same vampire, but Anita has her own agenda, repeating to Charles that she is the one who loves him. This pisses off Caleb and he first cojoles and then uses hypno-whammy to help Anne resist Anita's attempts to stay rooted in Anne's body!

[While everyone else, including James, stands there awkwardly watching.]

Anita warns Anne that she must submit to her will, or find herself killed the way that Lockwood killed her. She confirms to James and the others that Adrian Lockwood is the vampire. [Whether anyone but James and Carol are taking this literally or figuratively isn't answered, but either way, nobody seems willing to do anything about it.]

Finally, Anita appears to have lost her traction and Anne faints. Caleb goes to reach for her, but James pushes him away. He picks up Anne to take upstairs to rest, while Caleb closes the parlor room doors and turns back toward the other attendees ominously.


Scene 52: Sam confronts Caleb about playing them all and seems stuck between believing their professor is a vampire (at least figuratively) and that he may have played a ruse on them all by getting Anne to fake being possessed by Anita. Though, he's very shaken by the fact that Anne would have to be one hell of an actress and impressionist to have pulled it off.

Caleb confirms that none in the room believe he's an actual vampire however, and that he's going to kill them all for their blood? But the way he says it would chill the bones, either way. Even if he wasn't a vampire, they must all be wondering if he isn't a psychopath.

Sam claims not to be worried, but his tone is unconvincing. Carol says she's so unafraid that she left her crucifix upstairs.


Scene 53: In the meanwhile, upstairs, James is tending to the shaken Anne. He uses the intimate moment between them to tell her that he does want to be with her again. They kiss.


Commentary: Wasn't he supposed to be doing something - anything - about his vampire dad?? Wasn't that the entire reason for his quest from college to college tracking down the man? We're down to 7-ish minutes!


Scene 54: In the parlor, Caleb cooly informs his students that he's locked all of the exits while they were waiting for him, and we saw him lock the parlor doors.

He informs them that he is, in fact, Charles Croyden to their nonplussed reactions. One of our extras says that he and his girlfriend are leaving, but Charles stops this notion. He easily bends extra's neck back until it breaks.

Sam, who brought a gun in case anything went hinky, now pulls it out in defense. He finds that bullets go through the professor, but doesn't do more than make him flinch.


Scene 55: Upstairs, the gunshots draw James to rush downstairs after telling Anne to stay there [rather than, oh, running for the door].


Scene 56: In the parlor, Sam gives a brief shout of pain as Caleb drives his head into the fireplace mantle to the panicked cries of Carol and dead extra's girlfriend.

With him dealt with, Caleb fangs out to the girls' continued screams.


Commentary: This is another place where we could've used some more onscreen violence. A few dollars spent on some practical effects would've done wonders for this ending slaughter.


Scene 57: James starts banging on the locked parlor doors, as extra's girlfriend gets her throat crushed by Caleb. At the same time, Carol is fanged to death, both of them dying in tandem before James can save anyone in the room.

He finally smashes through, in a bit of superstrength to be confronted by the bloody face and flashing fangs of his father.

Caleb stalks forward threateningly, as James finds himself suddenly unprepared for this moment.





Imagine Caleb's shock when he goes to bite James next, only to find himself manhandled across the room and over a table!

Caleb's shock is shortlived. Grabbing a heavy vase stand, he clobbers James into the fireplace, where James' suit coat immediately catches alight. Caleb leaves James to howl in burning pain, as his mind turns to Anne, vulnerable upstairs.

In the meantime, James is left rolling on the floor to get the flames on his back extinguished.


Commentary: Some nice stunt work. I admire stuntmen who let themselves be set on fire and remain "in the scene", and I'll admit that paying for this effect was a better use of money than some fake blood.

But we're doing too many scene switches now, and it's dragging the pacing down. Instead of a rip-roaring vampire vs. half-vampire battle royale, we're half-assing it. This entire seance cul-de-sac wasn't needed.



Scene 58: Upstairs, bloody fanged Charles/Caleb/Adrian confronts Anne [and her terrible screams]. As Caleb advances on her, Anne suddenly stills and goes into another faint. But before Caleb can put the bite on her, the recovered James comes barreling through the doorway, tackling daddy-fangest.

Caleb wrestles around with James, the latter getting his ass pretty much kicked, but not enough to put him down and out.

James gets the upper hand enough to punch Caleb to the floor. Shocked by James' strength, Caleb finally asks who he is, and James, in anguish, tells him about his being conceived on a grave and that the vampire is his father.

This brings laughter to Caleb, which only serves to enrage James. He launches himself at the full vampire and easily lifts the man over his head.





James tosses him through a glass door, which in no way affects Caleb's ability to fight back. There is more brawling between the two supernaturals. The fight is actually pretty brutal, with James trying to snap Caleb's neck by his hair, and Caleb retaliating by trying to rip James' jaw off.

Because of some interesting wall decoration choices, James is able to pull a chain off the wall and uses it to throttle his father, while bashing him around the walls and ballistrade of the staircase.

James finally wins when he's able to bash a side table leg off, and send it deep into Caleb's chest...





Being the victor, James exhaustively walks down the staircase where his father fell to gaze upon the monster who parented him. But as he does so, something goes wrong. James experiences sudden pain, and claws at the tie around his neck.

James falls to his knees at his father's corpse, which is quickly aging with the loss of vitality.


Commentary: Lemme guess - this is a 70's film, so it's going to have an unfortunate ending for our protaganist. Because in the 1970's, if you weren't going to end on a bittersweet note, you were going to be doomed.


Scene 59: Upstairs, Anne stumbles out of the bedroom where she had passed out to see the signs of fighting strewn along the hallway. She sees James on his knees at the dead vampire's side and calls out to him. He turns, and begs her to get away from him, but not understanding that he's not human either, she goes to him, instead.

James goes into a series of painful, inarticulate grunts as his body jerks uncontrollably.

To his own horror, he sprouts fangs for the first time... [and they don't fit his mouth, so y'know... how embarrassing].





Seeing this Anne, rushes to look for safety back upstairs, with James FangMouth staring up the staircase at where she'd been.

Inexorably, he starts up the stairs after her.

Before he can either lose himself or stop himself, we end on "The End, Or Is It?"


Commentary: Which is desperately stupid, and now I hate you now, John Hayes.



The Good: I liked all of the attack scenes, pretty much, even though this film could have definitely benefited from some more practical blood effects. The attack on Paul and Anita was especially effective.

Despite any story arc involving him being unceremoniously ended, I enjoyed 'Eric Mason' when he was onscreen, and I was sorry to lose his character so brutally suddenly, but the shock was a nice moment in the film.

I also really liked the way that the revelation that Leslie's baby isn't human is handled, and there is something really creepy in Kitty's performance when Les just accepts cutting herself for blood for her baby.

The scene where Caleb stalks the random victim wordlessly, and turns her own impromptu weapon against her was nicely handled. There was a real creep factor in Caleb's completely silent confrontation with her.

I liked the sketched relationship between Anne and Anita, and the way Anita immediately steps aside when it's obvious James is more interested in Anne than herself. I also thought it was a nice swerve, if a little clumsily handled, by Anita throwing herself at the vampire deliberately. And his very quickly disposing of the syncophant was nicely handled, as well as - again - unexpected.

That scene of Anne finding Anita stuffed in the shower was excellent!


The Bad: James' hunt to kill his father was really muddled and poorly executed for being the crux of the movie. It's literally the last 15 minutes, after a duex ex machina before James has enough information to act, and even then he waits until his father slaughters his classmates before he gets around to it.

I also didn't like the entire seance sequence. It felt unnecessary, clumsy and introduced pointless characters just to up the body count in the last few scenes of the film. And after the attack on Anita and Anne, it suddenly brought momentum to a halt at the worst time.

That public access music track was intrusive, unbalanced and monotonous.

That ridiculous "The End, Or Is It?" as Vampire-James is stumbling up the steps to find Anne was really irritating.


Other Thoughts: There is a real problem with the film's universe, though not enough to put in the bad. But the number of characters who just accept that vampires exist, and they may be dealing with one is mind-boggling. This goes for both Lt. Panzer, Anita and medium Carol. The universe isn't well enough established for these characters to just shrug off an immortal vampire being around, while other characters are reacting far more sensibly on the scant evidence available.

The use of fangs is also haphazardly used, and so is the ambiguous use of psychic powers, whether by humans or vampires. You'd almost think that the vamps can't kill with their fangs, giving reason why Caleb uses tools, but then later you see him using them just fine... it's weird.

Olga is really a weird character! I don't understand her instant ... attraction? Protectiveness? toward Leslie. And we don't get anything after it's revealed that Leslie's baby will only eat blood in place of mother's milk. She's an intriguing character, but we can't get enough detail to understand her.

I found it unfortunate that we don't spend much more time with Leslie and Olga dealing with 'their' growing son's need for blood, rather than time skipping to the adult James. The two women were the far more compelling story.

I didn't like the way that James and Caleb confrontation played out after the entire movie was leading to it. For Caleb to not understand this was his half-vampire son trying to kill him until minutes before James did exactly that was a waste of potential. Really, James' entire role in tracking down Caleb and confronting him was an entire missed opportunity throughout.

I had a mixed reaction to Diane Holden; There were times when I found her character charming, but in the same scene, it suddenly would feel like her acting was off... like she, or her character were stoned, except we got no references to it. It was just weird. And she kept distracting me by looking in certain light like that freaky-ass dead medium wandering the hallways in "The Drop of Water" tale of Black Sabbath by Mario Bava.

I do feel that the editing/scene skips were skating the line of badly done toward the end: Specifically, when Anne is suddenly sunning herself and fine despite in film terms, Anita being discovered in the shower the very scene before and with zero information on how long afterward we were. And the very sudden jump to the evening of the seance and the way the seance was fit into the narrative.


The Score: I'm finding myself feeling all sorts of contradictory ways about this film. I'm having a hard time deciding just how much I like it, because so many of my expectations were foiled -- both for good, and for bad.

I like the acting, except for the pre-attack scenes by Kitty (Leslie) and Jay (Paul). And they could have used a stronger screamer dub for Lyn (Anne) but otherwise it was solid.

My biggest problem is that Leslie and Olga's circumstances were so much more compelling than anything going on with adult James, and I felt their character's losses when we moved forward in time. But I didn't find myself chomping at the bit for the film to end, though I do wish there was a more brutal confrontation going on between vampire and son that didn't wait for the last 15 minutes of film.


3.50 out of 5 stars


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Tags: review grave of the vampire
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