Tuesday, November 1, 2011

DVD Review - Bite Marks

This horror comedy is about vampires and the opening scene features a vampire killing a truck driver named Walsh in the back of his own tractor-trailer. We hear screams and then see a stream of blood pour. A lot of blood in fact spills on the ground. From this, it's evident that the vampire in question is pretty incompetent. After all, what self-respecting vampire would allow all that blood to spill? That's letting your dinner down the drain!

When I talked to Mark Bessenger, the writer-director, he reminded me that his intentions weren't to have smooth and sophisticated vampires like the Cullens from the Twilight movies. His vampires instead hark back to the original concept or myth about vampires and how they're basically animated corpses, not smart or sexy but sloppy.

We're immediately launched into a pretty amusing animated sequence, a cartoon under the opening titles, the likes of which you don't get anymore, at least not in the opening of movies. Check instead the end of Disney and DreamWorks films. The cartoon is this cute, almost child-like, Halloween-resembling, animated short, inspired by Night of the Demons (1988). It's in stark contrast to one of the next images we see, which is that of a man's naked ass doing some thrusting and clenching. The ass belongs to that of actor Benjamin Lutz, pronounced LOOTS. I've never seen this actor before, but, the ass shot alone makes me want to see him in more.

Here, Lutz plays Brewster, a handsome redneck who speaks with a slight, southern twang and a curled upper lip, almost like Elvis or sometimes as if he has tobacco in his lower jaw. Later, when he has something covering his ass, we see Brewster wearing jeans and flannel and a sickly green baseball cap with great dark hair and nice sideburns underneath.

Brewster comes off as slimy and abrasive. This is because we almost instantly learn that Brewster is in bed with Walsh's wife. The scene, which opens with his butt cheeks in the air, is Brewster's attempt to have sex with her. Sadly, he can't. You think that perhaps he has guilt over what he's doing, adultery, that and Walsh is Brewster's brother. You don't get much more slimy than sleeping with your brother's wife. Yet, Brewster doesn't have sex with his sister-in-law, not from a lack of trying. He physically can't.

When Walsh disappears, Walsh's boss asks Brewster to do the job that his brother was supposed to do, which is drive the tractor-trailer to Topeka and deliver some coffins to a funeral home there. Brewster takes the job, and I'm surprised the joke wasn't made about how Brewster not only took his brother's place on the job but also in the bedroom.

Brewster does have some reservations about taking the job, but not  for obvious reasons like concern for his brother. Brewster's reservations are out of concern for himself. While on the road, Brewster sees two guys hitchhiking along a backwoods road and stops to give them a lift. He doesn't realize it at first, but he soon learns that the two guys are a gay couple on a cross-country trip.

Cary, played by Windham Beacham, is the most apprehensive about entering into this situation. He's unlike his boyfriend, Vogel, played by David Alanson, who has no problem entering into any situation, especially if they're sexual situations. Yes, between the two, it seems that Vogel could be considered either the brave one or the slutty one.

Like the recent Scream 4, this is a horror movie that is very much aware of other horror movies. Bite Marks references films like Fright Night and Dracula, but Bessenger does so only for the comic effect. While the filmmaker is able to establish a creepy mood, he quickly devolves into absolute farce.

Revealing my man-crush on this movie's star, Benjamin Lutz, I'll stress that this movie is worth watching if only to see Lutz's performance here. No offense to Beacham or Alanson, but I simply loved the movie more when Lutz was on screen. From his line readings, his facial expressions to his entire physical reactions to certain things, this guy just had me laughing my head off. It's proof that Lutz can do zany comedy and pull it off. It's proof that he could probably do anything and pull it off. Bessenger describes Lutz as a Bruce Campbell-type, and I heartily agree, but I wouldn't limit him to that.

Surprisingly, this was his first film. Lutz appears next in The Love Patient, which is another zany romantic comedy. Based on his strength here, I'm very eager to see it. It involves Lutz playing one-half of a gay couple, and, speaking of which, I want to reiterate that Bite Marks too features a gay couple. When I talked to Bessenger by phone about it, he confirmed that originally the couple was heterosexual.

Bessenger said his executive producer suggested it be changed, which is noteworthy because it's rare for something like that to happen in movies. There are numerous examples on television, both daytime and prime-time, in recent years of straight characters who were made gay, but not so much in movies, if ever.

Aside from the continuity errors and a few ill-used jump cuts, as well as some glaring plot-holes, Bite Marks is for the money a very entertaining ride and regardless its flaws Bessenger still comes up with some really clever one-liners and hilarious moments like holy water delivered to a vampire in the most unlikely way as well as Jesus Christ and the Bible coming to the rescue in blasphemous gestures, and some giggle-inducing fight scenes.

This movie has screened at several major film festivals, including San Francisco and Washington, DC. It will be made available on DVD on November 15th. It will include numerous commentaries, behind-the-scenes videos, gag reels and photo galleries. Available on Amazon and Breaking Glass Pictures website.

Four Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but Contains sexual content, violence and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 24 mins.

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