Saturday, October 17, 2009

Royal Flush ’09: God of Vampires

These are not Anne Rice vampires. There is nothing erotic about the Kiang-Shi, a.k.a. Chinese Vampires. They do not just consume blood, but spill entrails and splatter gore every which way. Accepting a contract to kill a Kiang-Shi turns out to be a rough gig for one hired killer in Rob Fitz’s ultra-low budget God of Vampires (trailer here), which screened last night during the 2009 Royal Flush Festival as one of their Evil City Horror features.

Frank Ng is so good at what he does, his shadowy business agent nick-named him the Frank-Ng-Stein Monster. Yet, his instincts tell him to pass on a million dollar hit he is offered. At first, the assignment is just another day at the office for Ng, but when the supposed crime-lord won’t stay dead, the hitman realizes he has a problem. Though clearly outmatched, the stone-cold Ng still manages to annoy the Kiang-Shi, who vows to kill everyone the contract killer knows in retribution. In over his head, Ng seeks help from an herbalist in the city’s worst Chinese restaurant, thereby marking him for death as well. From there, things definitely get messy.

With writer-director Fitz wearing five or six different hats during the production, GOV was practically a one man DIY affair. He certainly did not economize on the fake blood though. In fact, he and cinematographer Silas Tyler get credit for producing a pretty decent looking film, considering their modest resources.

Though GOV is definitely in the b-movie tradition, Fitz keeps the energy amped up and throws in some dumb-but-not-too-dumb humor to leaven the gore. He offers some quirky departures from western vampire folklore that lead to some amusingly odd action sequences, as when Ng and his comrades attempt to staple Chinese death certificates to the foreheads of uncooperative vampires to put their souls to rest.

As Ng, Dharma Lim makes a decent screen protagonist and his fight choreography is pleasingly violent and gritty. Unfortunately, points have to be deducted for the lack of a hot female slayer character, but at least the use of a chainsaw as a weapon against the undead lends an undeniable touch of class to the proceedings.

Displaying a good grindhouse work ethic, GOV is an entertaining midnight movie, provided audiences watch it in the right state of mind. Really, GOV’s combination of the martial arts and vampires genres again proves to be pretty bullet-proof, with its dash of the yakuza film adding a nice hint of flavor. The Royal Flush Festival continues through Sunday night with more Evil City Horror features, including Jim Isaac’s Pig Hunt tonight.