In this era of remakes, it’s not surprising that just about everything is being remade, but, when a little known low budget movie is remade, it’s kind of interesting because with a bigger budget and more experienced people involved it seems that any movie could be improved…well, almost. The new release of the J.R. Bookwalter movie, Kingdom of the Vampire is an interesting look at the remake phenomenon, not because it’s intended that way, but because the new Tempe Entertainment release has the original 1991 version and the Brett Kelly 2007 remake on one cool disc!
Kingdom of the Vampire isn’t really your typical vampire movie, this is the story of Jeffrey, an introverted young man, who’s been kept under his mother’s wing for so long that he’s a bit socially retarded. He has no friends and just works nights and then head straight home to be with his mother. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention, Jeff and his mom are both vampires? Yes, these two are the last of the vampire race and they’re now living in a small town and trying to stay hidden from society, the problem is that mother gets hungry and sometimes kitten blood isn’t good enough and she decides to kill someone who has the bad fortune to come to close to her house. But, when Jeff meets Nina, something happens, he finds that he has genuine feeling for this girl and that doesn’t sit too well with mother! So, now, besides having the local Sheriff looking at him suspiciously, and trying to hide the fact that he’s a vampire from everyone, now Jeff is ordered to kill his new girlfriend by his domineering mother…what’s a young vampire to do?
Styled closer to a soap opera than a classic vampire movie, Kingdom of the Vampire will draw you in. Bookwalter has said that he was inspired by the classic series, Dark Shadows, when he put the original movie together, and it really shows, the characters are deep and well formed and the story is built in a way that you really want to know more about what’s going on, it could easily have been turned into a series! Now, there’s not a problem with there being two versions of the same movie on one disc, in fact, it’s kind of nice to be offered both versions, the problem I had was that the original 1991 version is by far the superior movie. The differences are very slight, in the 1991 version, Jeff works nights at the local liquor store, while the remake has him in a video store, in the original Nina is a local girl who works at a nearby fast food restaurant, while the update has her as a local junkie who just wanders into Jeff’s life and takes a shine to him. And, while I didn’t dislike the newer version, I found myself enjoying the original a bit more, the acting was a bit stronger in the original but the gore and effects seem to be better in the remake. I think the real difference in the two is mother. In the 1991 version, mother is an old lady who, while looking frail, is surprisingly agile and mean, and in the 2007 version mother is an almost sexy creature, and while she has a mean streak too, it’s not that surprising that she could kill someone, she doesn’t look much older than Jeff. Now, I know that they’re vampires, so they don’t age, but for the sake of the story, the center of which is the mother/son relationship, the original version just works better. I’m giving Kingdom of the Vampire four out of four cigars despite the small issues I had, because, either version is good, I just had my personal preference! You can compare these movies for yourself by heading over to the Tempe Entertainment web site and getting a copy for yourself. Whether you’re a vampire fan or just a fan of great indie movies, Kingdom of the Vampire will have you wishing for more tales of Jeff and his dear old mom! So, until next time, when I’ll be trying to hide the bodies that my mother has piled up in her house…OH God Mother What Have You Done!…remember that the best movies are bad movies.]