In The Big Apple, fortune teller fucker par excellence Ivan (Bill White) and his stoic partner Harry (Ed Hubbard) spend their nights patrolling the mean streets in order to rid the world of various supernatural menaces.
While in the middle of one such operation, three ladies and a leather-clad lothario inadvertently make the scene and accidentally open a portal to hell which unleashes a creepy cadre of creatures and plunges the surroundings into an alternate dimension.
Before long the body count begins to rise as the creatures become absolutely hellbent (literally) on keeping Ivan, Harry, et. al trapped within those wicked walls until sunrise so that their residence becomes permanent!
The first thing you may notice about writer/director Kevin J. Lindenmuth (the Alien Agenda series.. and making his debut here) is that for a shot on video production (though the camcorders utilized were of the pricey-as-fuck variety) it makes really good use of it’s budget. Set in one central warehouse location (with a few shots stolen on the streets of New York City) there’s plenty of room for runnin’ around various smoke and darkness filled rooms while being menaced on all sides by plenty of devious devils who want nothing more than to kill our heroes and take over the mortal realm!
Speaking of those bad-ass beasties, they are legion and take the form of demons, a wall of living severed heads (shades of the tortured souls stuck to the demon turtle Jinmen’s shell in Go Nagai’s Devilman), a giant rat, a talking severed hand, Lovecraftian larva, and yes… even vampires, all realized via practical effects artistry that really makes this picture sing, believe you me cats n’ creeps!
There’s also a relative shit-ton of worldbuilding on hand, conveyed both through stories of the nature of the menacing monsters of the moment and their environments… and those environments are what makes this flick damn ambitious with levels of hell containing a dungeon, hallways covered in ambulatory severed limbs (which brings to mind images found in Jean Cocteau’s 1946 cinematic re-telling of Beauty and the Beast, as well as that dream sequence in Romero’s Day of the Dead), liminal spaces, strange doors to unexpected locations, a giant mousetrap, and a restaurant containing a duo of deceased rock legends… there is no end to the imagination displayed in the realization of the levels of hell our beleaguered protagonists find themselves trapped within.
The cast assembled here is quite good as well, with Hubbard stealing the show in a performance that manages to be menacing and monotone as well as sympathetic (and a few wild tangents in-between)… though Mick McCleery as the leather wearin’ fella mentioned up yonder manages to steal plenty of scenes in ways you’ll just have to see to believe…
We also get some creative editing, fun use of both black and white and color shots, a few laughs (the voice and comments of one particular severed head had me rollin’), and the awesomeness that is the BBC Radiophonic Workshop-style noises our heroes’ paranormal investigation equipment makes!
As is the usual with a Visual Vengeance release we are treated to a hellish amount of extras, with three audio commentaries leading the way!
The first track features Lindenmuth who takes us through the film’s production in plenty of detail (the devil is in them remember… and no, I will not stop with the pun bullshit) as he reveals a myriad of facts and anecdotes concerning the film’s production. Following that, Lindenmuth returns along with actor McCleery who engage in a friendly and conversational track that includes some repeated stories, but interspaced with McCleery’s first hand recollections of the events at hand. The final track features Tony Strauss of Weng’s Chop Magazine who analyzes the film from the fan’s perspective.
After that comes interviews with Lindenmuth, actors Laura McLauchlin, McCleery, Suzanne Turner, Sally Narkis, special effects artists Ralis Kahn (who incidentally provided the film’s soundtrack with his metal band The Crypt) and Scott Sliger (a frequent collaborator with my pal filmmaker/composer Dante Tomaselli), photographer Sung Pak, and publicist Joe Mauceri.
Also included are a behind-the-scenes image gallery, a collection of early films by Lindenmuth with their own optional commentary by the director (including some rad stop-motion), and a duo of trailers for the film.
As for the packaging we get a reversible sleeve featuring original VHS promo art, six pages of liner notes (courtesy of the aforementioned Strauss), a folded mini-poster, and a VHS inspired sticker set.
Full of groovy ghoulish goodness such as monsters, metal, solid acting, and an epic comic book style storyline; Vampires and Other Stereotypes is a total wicked winner likely to put a smile on your face 666 miles wide!