I went to see Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter at the Bytowne cinema on Sunday night, the world premiere of this odd film. It's like an amateur version of a Kung-fu film combined with a religious film (like the Ten Commandments). Skip to the last paragraph if you want to avoid spoiling the film slightly (only slightly since there's just so much stuff that goes on in the film).
It has lots of enthusiastic fight scenes. One is Jesus vs the 40 Atheists, who come pouring out of SUVs like clowns out of a small circus car. Another is at the Dominion Tavern where a poorly performing Jesus notices that the full hall is almost empty when seen in a mirror. The room full of vampires is attacked by Jesus and his WWF-style wrestler sidekick Santo, using big wooden stakes, drumsticks, pool cues and even toothpicks. Of course some of the punches and falls look a bit amateur since the fighters are just local Ottawa people, not stuntmen.
It has many pretty women. The vampires are vampish and slinkily dressed, and lesbian (or their prey are lesbian - not sure), and sunproof. There's a nice scene of dead bodies at the Lesbian Drop In Center and a screaming manager - screaming whenever the camera focuses on a body, and there are about 20 bodies dropped in there.
It has exotic scenery. For example, Santos the large WWF-ish wrestler arrives on a two person airplane at the Ottawa Airport - reminds me of flying with Brian, except this guy wore a silver mask and had a limousine pickup and paparatzi chasing him, but is otherwise like Brian. There's a baptism ceremony in the waters of Mooney's bay. The downtown cathedral is the headquarters for the church. There's a final big battle in a junkyard. The courtyard of the National Gallery is used as a backdrop. Exotic!
It has scary stuff. Like the hospital operating room scene where they are sunproofing vampires by transplanting skin.
It has religion. Jesus stays in character, and is a bit lost in modern times (he finds a pretty female "apostle to apostles" who gets him some modern clothes at a certain thrift shop). The priests and other church figures help him out. There is a black bearded narrator who sometimes appears and makes profound statements comparing the soul to an empty house. Jesus is nice even to defeated vampires. He's filled with light, as someone finds out when poking him with a sharp stick. He talks to his mother and father. There's a good Samaritan who rescues him after various people pass him by (like the cop who points out that compassion stops at 6 pm), of course the twist is that the rescuer turns out to be transexual.
And most of all, there's a lot of comedy. Things like God manifesting as the talking Muppet-style cheese-cake in a bowl, with cherries. And just about everything else in the film is funny.
Oh, there's also music of assorted types by assorted composers (mostly from Ottawa), and even a couple of dance numbers (healing the sick in wheelchairs and walkers turns into a Buzzby Berkley musical number). Good sound track, except that lip-sync was off for the entire film, possibly a projection error. On the other hand, there were a few spots where they spoke much faster than the lips moved - a parody of dubbed action films, I hope.
I forgot to mention that we actually had to line up, and ended up at the middle of the balcony because the theatre was so full (that's over 500 people). This was a 10pm Sunday show too. Apparently filmmaker Lee Demarbe has a large following in Ottawa. "Harry Knuckles and the Treasure of the Aztec Mummy" was a previous film, also shot in Ottawa, one review on the Internet Movie Database says "It's horrible, absolutely horrible, and it's *supposed* to be. It's a rip-off of every bad Spanish, gangster, B, monster, kung-fu-fighting movie you've ever seen. It's hilarious, and it'll never, ever be in a video store near you. Too bad."). That's also a good description of JCVH. We got to see the filmmaker and associates answer questions and give out prizes (soundtrack CDs) before the show. Apparently the film was just finished that morning (originally it was for Easter) and was shipped from Toronto just in time for us to see it.
Yup, amateur and campy but a level above due to a fast moving script (no dead parts) and tricks like the narrator's irrelevant interruptions. Definitely something to see if you enjoy a comedy which parodies lots of other B films. Particularly if you are from Ottawa area and aren't freaked out by lesbians that lick their fangs seductively.
The film maker's site (as of January 2002): http://www.odessafilmworks.com/ lists a lot of info about Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter and mostly passes over the previous Harry Knuckles films (compared to the previous now-defunct web site mostly about Harry Knuckles). There's a bit of a backgrounder at http://www.odessafilmworks.com/main.html and this review even makes an appearance in http://www.odessafilmworks.com/jcvh/reviews.html!
Copyright © 2001 by Alexander G. M. Smith.