Director(s) – Sean Donohue (Die Die Delta Pi) and Mike Niche
Starring – Mike Christopher (Dawn of the Dead, Make Them Die Sleazy!), Erin Cline (The Housewife Slasher, Within the Darkness), and Mike Dufau (Theatre of the Deranged II, The Housewife Slasher)
Release Date – 2013
Rating – 3.5/5
Tagline – “He’s out of blood, He’s old, His rent is due, He’s Joe Vampire.”
Vampires are something that I used to love as a child but have kinda grown out of in recent years. This can be a direct result of Twilight and the generic vampire films that followed. Since I started writing reviews I have not covered many vampire flicks with only two sticking out in my mind. Those two are Blood on the Highway (an amazing horror comedy) and Fright Night 2 (a shitty sequel to the remake that also served as a remake). I know I have reviewed others but those two are the only ones sticking out in my mind.
Anyway, vampire films are ones that I used to get excited for and was disappointed over and over again since the release of Twilight. This is now the same thing that is happening to me and zombies since the release of The Walking Dead.
However, one film I have kept on my radar is the Sean Donohue film Joe Vampire starring Mike Christopher who is known for playing the iconic Hare Krishna zombie in George A. Romero’s classic Dawn of the Dead. I was even more excited when I heard my friends over at The Sleaze Box were behind the release. I waited for the film’s release but I let is slip by me while battling my wife’s health issues. While sitting in the hospital Chris Woods reached out to me to review the film and for that I have to thank him for giving me that chance!
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows Joe (Christopher). Joe is a civil war soldier who lost his entire platoon in battle. Wounded, he wonders aimlessly through the thicket of forest until he reaches an abandoned camp where he is bitten by a vampire. We then jump to present day and Joe is living the Big Lebowski life. He is late on his rent and drinks cheap scotch to pass the time. One night while at a bar he meets a younger lady named Melissa (Cline). Melissa is an unusual woman that lost her family not long ago.
He becomes infatuated with her and sparks up a conversation. She brushes him off and leaves the bar only to be assaulted by a drunken frat boy. Joe arrives and kills him where he accidentally reveals his dark side to her. The tables are then turned and Melissa becomes infatuated with him and the idea of becoming a vampire. He agrees to turn her but an old friend of Joe appears and intervenes. Joe’s friend, Drake (Duffau) is an older vampire than Joe that feeds on humans.
Drake is also a member of the “network” and is trying to force Joe back into it, as well as, help him with a business venture. He turns to Melissa to help persuade him and it works. Joe agrees but only to the stipulation that he never contact Joe again. Drake agrees and the two set out to a business meeting involving a little girl that was kidnapped earlier that day. Joe is then betrayed by Drake and refuses to bring Melissa into his dark world. She turns to Drake who is now using her as a pawn to get back to Joe. Joe, once healed, embarks on a rescue mission to get Melissa back and stop Drake. **Spoiler Alert**
The Sleaze Box and Icon Films are known for releasing raunchy flicks that dives deep in to the sick and twisted side of cinema. However, director Sean Donohue is known to craft some fine, polished films that can be described as the opposite of what The Sleaze Box and Icon Films is known for. Donohue’s last film, the slasher Die Die Delta Pi, was a great slasher that showed style and knowledge of the horror genre. Seeing that film really made me want to see Joe Vampire but I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to my expectations but I was very wrong. The film was strong and made vampires evil again.
The acting in this one is amazing. The entire cast was awesome but I was honestly shocked by the skill Mike Christopher has in front of the camera. He become a horror culture phenomenon when he donned his orange robe for Dawn of the Dead but I have not seen him appear in any other film’s until I watched this little ditty. This is a damn shame because he has some real acting chops on him. I hope this is a new revitalization for him and he goes on to star in many more films. I also want to point out how talented Erin Cline is. She has a natural knack for being in front of the camera and her chemistry with Mike showed in each scene. It also helps that she’s smoking hot.
The story for this one is not that in depth nor it is that original but it does have Donohue’s crisp look and feel making it stick out when compared to others with a similar story. Finally, the film does have several bloody kills but they are what you would expect to see when you watch a vampire flick. Nothing new nor groundbreaking there. However, the kills are on par with every other vampire film I have seen.
The only real gripe I have for this film is the soundtrack and sound effects. In some scenes the dialogue is faint while the music is playing. We really needed the volume on the dialogue dialed up. Also, the sound effects for most of the film was horrible. Whenever a vampire bit their victims it sounded like some asshole opening a bag of chips in the middle of a theater while a movie was playing. It was unrealistic and made many great scenes laughable. Overall, Joe Vampire is a fantastic vampire flick that really puts the bite back into horror. Check it out!