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Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter (2001)

by on 2012/10/06

“I thirst for nothing but justice for the fallen sheep of our flock.”

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Nearly two years ago I mentioned how Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter renewed my faith in independent film. Now that I have seen it again, I’m here to testify it wasn’t just a flickering trick of delight.

Of course, by the time your eye has finished taking in the title, you’ve probably self-selected your allegiance. So for the blessed subset congregated to bear witness, here’s the gospel according to Saint Geek . . .

Vampires plague the City of Ottawa, more specifically its “Ladies of Sappho”. The more forward-thinking faithful wonder how to protect their lesbians, especially since their attackers have developed a resistance to crosses and daylight. It’s decided to consult with Jesus Christ (Phil Caracas).

Unfortunately, he’s not interested, at least initially. But when his beach is attacked, and his friends are killed, the matter becomes personal. He gets a modern make-over, and begins to investigate, yet finds the opposition overwhelming. He resorts to calling in backup, a Mexican wrestler, El Santos (Jeff Moffet), who joins his sweeping rounds in a pimped-out Cadillac.

My god, this is an absolute gem to behold. A gaudy, garish gem made out of paste. Poorly made, that is. And crookedly set in an inappropriate base. With wood cement.

This is multi-layered, grand-scale ineptitude which — against all odds — succeeds, most certainly deliberate, but without too-carefully-studied deliberation. It has interest, speed, and energy, in a succinct experience, filtered into a distillation of low-budget cliche: ludicrous subject matter, amusingly written, clumsily executed, overwrought in expression, dizzyingly recorded and edited, loosely dubbed, and scored with earwormy muzak of every sort.

It’s exploitation without nudity, little swearing, and no convincing violence, except for a single shot of Christ getting an earring.

It’s a triumph of all things campy, cheesy, and kitsch . . . and one of the few musicals I’d celebrate . . . the very definition of “so bad it’s good”. I’d call it a guilty pleasure except I feel no guilt about it. It’s an unrelenting hour and a half of over-enthusiastic amateurs recreating “better” movie scenes. Wobbly women in skin-tight suits, one fight scene after another, all set to disco, funk, hard rock, punk, synth-pop, and heavy techno. It makes Napoleon Dynamite seem mainstream.

I’m not unaware Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter will polarize audiences. I sincerely doubt its down-the-middle rating on IMDB is the result of viewers watching and feeling “meh”. Rather, it’s the averaging-out of extreme high and low results. Let me put it this way, in my book it’s a four-star work but, if you’re devout and have no sense of humour, you’d best give it a miss.

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Not rated

85 minutes

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