Vampires and Other Stereotypes (1992) – By Cary Conley

This is Kevin J. Lindenmuth’s very first film for his own production company, Brimstone Media.  At the outset, it is clear that Lindenmuth has a love for horror films.  His second film, Twisted Tales (reviewed in last month’s issue), is full of homages from classic films.  This film reminds me very much of a cross between Raimi’s The Evil Dead and Fulci’s The Beyond with a good deal of Argento’s Demons franchise thrown in as well.

Three lovely ladies are heading to a party with Eric, a boyfriend of one of the ladies.  They enter a deserted warehouse where one of the girls accidentally cuts her hand, dripping blood on the wall and floor.  Unbeknownst to them, the warehouse is a portal to hell, and the blood is the key that unlocks the gate.  Enter two mysterious men who are demon hunters and happen to be there to protect the gate from being opened and unleashing hell on Earth.  The group now must fend off the demons until daybreak when the gate will close and they can safely leave.

Lindenmuth has tried to make an epic film here, which might not have been advisable for a first-time filmmaker.  It includes a full-sized demon, a wall with talking demonic faces, a human-sized rat-demon, and even a trip into Hell itself.  Some of the effects are pretty good (I thought the rat monster was very well done) while others are a bit on the amateurish side (the wall of demons).  I suspect this has more to do with the budget than with a lack of talent, for these filmmakers genuinely believe in what they are doing.

As most of Lindenmuth’s films do, this one has some black humor in it as well.  While the wall of demons might have suffered from a lack of money, the dialogue was certainly entertaining.  This is a strong suit for Lindenmuth.  Unfortunately, there are some weaknesses as well.

A good deal of the dialogue is pretty bad, especially when the characters are arguing (which they do a good deal).  I believe the intention was to use sarcasm for a humorous effect, but the dialogue just didn’t seem realistic enough to bring about the intended effect.

The acting is also uniformly bad.  Most of our characters’ reactions are terribly unrealistic, from body language to facial expressions, and even the tone of their voices.  In several scenes that are supposed to be scary, the actors come across as wooden with no reaction at all instead of being terrified as normal people would be given their situation.

An example is an early scene when the demon first arrives in the warehouse.  We hear what is supposed to be the doors being pounded on.  What should be terrifying, with the doors rattling and the pounding building to a crescendo, instead sounds more like someone is banging a pan with a spoon.  One character turns around and announces that the demon has arrived with absolutely no emotion in either his voice or facial expression.  No surprise then for another character to ignore his warning (and the banging spoon) and open the door to confront the demon.

That being said, one can appreciate Lindenmuth’s passion for horror and what he was trying to create, and in many ways he succeeded in making a film chock full of surprises and fairly big effects for an indie film with a tiny budget.  But the unrealistic dialogue and terrible acting pull this first-time feature down.

Apparently Lindenmuth learned a great deal in making this first feature as his second feature, Twisted Tales, is a huge step in the right direction, with later productions like the Addicted to Murder series gaining a great deal of popularity.  Vampires and Other Stereotypes isn’t very good, but you have to give props to Lindenmuth for jumping into the filmmaking waters headfirst.  He doesn’t quite pull it off, but the film has so many ideas thrown in that it managed to keep me interested until the end.