Cold Hearts (1999) – By Baron Craze

Producer, director, and writer Robert A. Masciantonio, celebrated the 15th anniversary of his film Cold Hearts, with a special showing at Cinedelphia Film Festival, on April 17, 2014, presentation by Video Pirates, as the director appear for his movie and in depth Q&A session afterwards. The film has special fondness and love in the Tri-State area, as principal filming took place in the picturesque Ocean City, New Jersey using many iconic locations as backdrops for points of reference for locals to identify. Robert to the reigns, at the ripe age of 24, to direct his first feature film and did fair job of presenting a vampire film. The DVD box cover art gives the story away and hints to the pivotal ending with a quote on the cover, “terrifying secret will be revealed in the light of the full moon”, a major mistake if one is trying to hide a plot twist.

Not long into the film, does it begin to resemble another horror film, and with the hints of a local gang led by a vicious individual, Charles (Christopher Wiehl) who strolls the shore’s townspeople along the boardwalk and beach for something to fulfill their bloodthirsty lusts. Sounds familiar, to Joel Schumacher’s popular teen film The Lost Boys (1987), many claim it is a rip-off, but this film tries to head in another direction, one of adult issues that plagues both Charles and his “horsemen” and his love interest Viktoria, while another adversary has no fear in marking his territory either. Meanwhile Viktoria (Marisa Ryan) whose life has dealt with agony, despair, and wrong choices confronts issues with her dear friend Alicia (Amy Jo Johnson of the famous Mighty Power Rangers), and unwanted interest in bloodlust. Cold heart surrounds and swirls around Viktoria and her dilemmas more than that of Charles, especially with the back-story of how she became a vampire, once believing in the glamour of the big screen, and the Goth of horror novels and comics, even referencing The Crow, she learns the only warmth comes in blood to her harden cold heart. Her friend, and at times seems as a child that she mothers, reminds audience of Interview with a Vampire’s Brad Pitts’ character, Louis, as his reluctance to feed, leads him to vermin, and herein her taste for feeding fills her with guilt and anguish. Leading one to ask about her background, none though gives any answers, yet hints to a profound religious or high moral ground, closely to that of Catholic guilt. Another key individual’s immediate appearance as the adversary comes from frat brother Seth (Robert Floyd) who had some in the audience doing a double take, as he resembles a young Matthew Modine. Seth’s entrance abrupt appearance comes to the aid of Viktoria, and defends her against Charles’ dominating abusive physical and psychological power, this first intervention sets a great tension clearly demonstrated by both actors, Seth and Charles. Quickly and quite obviously transparent to the audience learns of what Seth really hides under his skin, especially when he announces that he can smell rain in the air, by sniffing and his back-story of a thrashing by a large gray wolf.

Cold Heart is not without problems in the story, especially with Viktoria’s ability to stay out in the sunlight for longer periods of time, and suffers only a tan, and then she lives in a beachfront home, never explain how that is possible. Then there the old vampire, a mystic legend, known as Uncle Joe (Fred Norris from the Howard Stern Show) his appearance becomes muddle, yet has years or perhaps centuries of wisdom, not much information or set-up for him explains his part or intentions.

The special effects have one major standout, and that occurs when a creature of the night spends a tad too much time in the sunlight and crumbles to dust, similar to that in 30 Days of Night, but this crafty scene comes from under the talents of Tom Savini’s supervision. Blood flow trickled in most of the film with exception one scene that occurs with a rampaging killing spree, otherwise the bloodlust, is nowhere present in the vampire flick. The remaining special effects stay relevantly low-key, except for the showing of the fangs for the vampires.

During the Q&A, Robert mentioned that the film had won Best Feature at the 1999 Atlantic City Film Festival, and that same year as they film, they were plagued with gnats as they hatched in the springtime of May and became the largest infestation in 20-years. Then went onto mention the Ocean City was very much accepting of their presence by assisting in have the lights and amusements working, all except for Manco & Manco’s (which then known as Macks & Manco’s) by refusing to turn on lights and needed for the filming to place more extras blocking their store. The director went on to mention about Manco and karma, referencing the pizza chain’s IRS issues. In addition, Robert informed the audience, that he wanted his casting director to contact Jack Nicholson to see if he commits three hours to film the role of Uncle Joe. Needless to state his request went unfilled as the same weekend Nicholson went onto to win Best Actor in a Leading Role in As Good as It Gets. Mascinatonio’s movie contains many little pop culture movies references from Clerks to Langella’s and Lugosi’s Dracula films, respectively 1979 and 1931 and without a doubt The Lost Boys, in so many ways with homage and b-movie styles.

Cold Hearts possess the chance to become a something outrageous and tad controversial, with a focus to more past live spiritual, however turns faces a talkative narrative and a teen soap opera, which plays better for rainy gloomy daytime horror film, rather than a nighttime feeding frenzy of bloodlust. However, the film is not without merit, it contains many nostalgic references, channeling dozens of horror films, for mild horror fans to enjoy.

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