The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Announcement

Announcement

Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.

--Matt

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Night Hunter (1996)

Photobucket

I've always loved the idea of Don "The Dragon" Wilson as a vampire hunter. Sure, I like the idea better of Sarah Michelle Gellar as one, but I digress (and can digress even more by mentioning her Buffy co-star Charisma Carpenter-- that's two mentions of her in a little over seven days). Anyway, it's just the idea of Wilson as some dark, brooding, duster-wearing anti-hero, I mean, don't get me wrong, he's plenty good at kicking ass in his movies, but there's always been an aw-shucks element in his style, and I was curious to see what a movie would look like without that, see if he could carry it off.

Night Hunter has Wilson as the son of James Lew, one in a long line of vampire hunters. He sees his father killed by Vince Murdocco and the rest of a gang of vampires. He grows up and exacts his revenge on them, only to find out they aren't the last of their kind. There's Vincent Klyn, Ron Yuan, Maria Ford, and the head honcho, Nicholas Guest. At the same time, he's wanted for murder for the killings of Murdocco and his clan; and in his escape from them, he bumps into hottie Melanie Smith, who plays a reporter investigating his case. Wilson needs to defeat these vamps before the solar eclipse, otherwise they'll breed or something, and if they do that, it could be bad.

Photobucket

This could have been awesome, except for one enormous bad decision on the part of the film makers: in every fight scene, they shook the camera. You know, like how they do on Star Trek to simulate the bridge being attacked. I mean, you have great talent like Wilson, Yuan, Lew, and Klyn, not to mention Art Camacho choreographing the scenes, and you gotta do a camera effect that makes me sea sick? This could have been tons of fun, and instead it was pretty much ruined. Good work out of you guys, whoever decided on that one.

We're cruising right along on our Don "The Dragon" Wilson completion project. After this we'll be down to ten more. Also, one more after this will get him to that rarefied air of 20 tags. As far as Night Hunter goes, there was something inorganic about him in this role. It's like they were trying too hard to do The Crow and other anti-heroes of the time, so they crammed him into it. The duster and hair were actually more Lorenzo Lamas as Reno Raines in Renegade. I think too, his natural tendency is to be a pretty stand-up guy, and no matter how much the role calls for being dirty and gritty, that decent guy will always rise to the top-- and to be honest, I'm good with that. He kicks plenty of ass as a decent guy, doesn't he?

Photobucket

DTVC favorite Vincent Klyn is one of many in a great supporting cast. We also had Ron Yuan and James Lew, two guys we're used to seeing as hatchetmen in Asian gangs in DTV films. All of these guys brought it in one way or another, which made it more of a shame that every great fight was ruined by that shaky camera trick. Ugh! Speaking of Klyn, Point Break was on Versus of all channels last week. "Back off Warchild, seriously."

Nicholas Guest played the head baddie. You may remember him as the head master in USA High, among other roles. He usually plays the stuffed shirt style English man, which suits him better than the slick evil vampire. I don't know, maybe the people making the film thought one Limey was as good as another, that they didn't need Julian Sands or Bruce Payne. I was also of the understanding that all Englishmen make good baddies, but upon seeing this, I realize that that was a stereotype. Maybe it's the half Mick half Frog in me, but to all my readers from England, I wholeheartedly apologize. Go Gunners!

Photobucket

Over and over I hear all about some latent eroticism inherent in the whole vampire thing, and I never get it. Other than the fact that you're talking about men with tons of experience but none of the side effects of aging, there's nothing about biting people's necks and lots of blood that's hot. This film takes a different track for a moment. The two female leads are played by Maria Ford and Melanie Smith, and they have something of a Russ Meyer inspired scene in an elevator where, after some silly punches to Ford's face by Smith, Ford throws Smith against the wall, then pins her arms behind her back, holding her helpless. Total girl-on-girl action. I get that I'm not the target demographic for Twilight, and I get that there's a level of teenage angst that drives those stories; but for my money, Twilight would be a whole lot hotter with some serious girl-on-girl action. That's hot, vampires are not.

This would have been a real winner if not for the shaky camera affect. All right, maybe not a real winner, but pretty fun. Sometimes, less is more, and that's especially true here. If you're daring, though, this is actually available on Netflix-- though who knows for how much longer, because Wilson's films are fading out of print, and when they're out of print, Netflix doesn't make them available anymore.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113981/

12 comments:

  1. This was actually the first Wilson film I ever saw, not exactly the best of his filmography to start with, the camera wasn't a big issue for me, I just didn't find the story engaging as a whole and Wilson just isn't cut out to play this type of role, though I do agree with what you said about Twilight, if it had plenty of girl-on-girl action, then i'd definitely pay to see those films in theaters!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good review. The camera shaking was a big problem, but Don The Dragon put in a decent performance and there were some ok fight scenes.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I guess if Dons movies are going out of print in the States you can at least grab this, all the bloodfists and more for two bucks a piece here in Australia. If you can play PAL discs and are after something specific Matt, let me know and I'll check our bargain bins.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Me and my friends are gonna get together and have a vampire night soon. I'm bringing this.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yeah, the shaky camera thing was too much. Save it for Star Trek.

    Thanks for the offer Sutekh. I think I should be all right, though Bloodfist 2 has been giving me a little more trouble than I thought. The biggest problem with the out-of-print phenomenon is that Netflix won't carry it, but usually the films are still good on the secondary market, give or take.

    This does make for great vampire-fest viewing, especially because the 86-minute runtime allows you to fit more films in in one night.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I watched this more for Maria Ford than for DTDW. Sadly, she didn't get naked. I did like the dialogue in this one though: "We need to feed so we may breed!"

    ReplyDelete
  7. Good review. One of the few Wilson films I haven't seen yet. Will have to check it out, regardless of the shaky cam.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I find Melanie Smith to be hotter than Ford-- though Ford's no slouch either.

    Yeah, if you've seen most of the rest of Donny's oeuvre, you'd need to check this one out.

    ReplyDelete
  9. That's the thing about Maria Ford for me personally, though. Admittedly, she doesn't always come off as the "hottest" one in the cast sometimes, but if you put her in her element- the campy way she delivers a line, makes a face (see something like 'Stripped to Kill 2' or 'Angel of Destruction')- and there's NO ONE who's hotter or does it better than she does. She is hotter than Julie Strain (who used to be the hottest, hands down there is); she is hotter than Melanie Moore; she is hotter than any b/dtv movie queen, past or present, when she does her thing. She has a huge presence when used properly. But that's just me.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I don't know if you can compare her with Melanie Moore. Julie Strain, yes, but her and Melanie Moore are two different kinds of hot, if that makes any sense. Otherwise, I see exactly what you're saying about Ford and I agree.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Yeah, in retrospect, Melanie Moore wasn't the best example; I was just thinking of names off the top of my head that I consider in the upper eschelon. They're completely different entities.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Ring of Fire II is looking like our next Wilson post. What do you think of Ford in that one?

    ReplyDelete