Incredibly Bad Film Show: Blood Red Moon

Dir: Scott Patrick
Star: Sarah Lavrisa, Matthew Rogers, Mark Courneyea, Shelley-Jean Harrison.

“If you love Twilight, you’ll love Blood Red Moon.” There’s the pull-quote on the DVD sleeve from the apparently untraceable “Gates of Gore,” which is exactly the kind of line you couldn’t buy. Now, I can’t speak conclusively for those whose love Twilight,  but I suspect they would probably react to BRM by forming a mob with torches and storming Canada, for this carefully-calculated insult to everything they hold dear – like fundamentalist Muslims shown a sock-puppet re-enactment of the life of Mohammed. Those of us who didn’t really like Twilight much, on the other hand, will find this a no-budget, micro-talent rip-off, which is less homage or satire than shameless rip-off. It’s so painfully close Stephenie Meyer should sue – except even if awarded the entire production cost and revenue, it would likely not even cover the cost of the phone-call to her lawyer.

It starts off with a farmer drinking on his porch, when something attacks his cattle – though the way it’s edited, and with the lack of any actual cattle save a cheesy sound-effect, for one glorious moment, I hoped we were going to be getting vampire cows. No such luck. Instead, it’s on to new girl in school Megan (Lavrisa) – or Meagan, the film can’t seem to make up its mind on the tiny detail of the lead character’s frickin’ name – who has gone from Toronto to Inbredhicksville, population 23, where everyone hates her for her daring fashion sense, e.g. wearing black.

But there is brooding recluse Victor (Rogers), whom no-one can get a handle on, but has a habit of being able to appear and disappear at will. Which might be more impressive, if said disappearances clearly consist of nothing more than him simply walking out of the frame. He goes through the whole “It’s not you, it’s me,” thing, before revealing his true nature to Megan, and offering to climb a tree with her. She demurs, citing her fear of heights, although the poverty-row production values are far more important in that decision. And, really, what is it with the trees? I know it’s shot in Canada, but there is more pointless footage of forest than I’ve ever seen. Felt like I was watching Monty Python: “How to recognize different trees from quite a long way away. Number 1. The larch. The larch.”

As for Edward Victor, imagine the young Adam Sandler circa The Waterboy, trying to pass himself off as coolly eternal. To say it doesn’t work, would be a grave dis-service to non-working things, not least because he possesses the dress sense of Stevie Wonder in a fire-bombed thrift store. Mind you, he’s not alone there: the film takes place over quite some time, but just about everyone – most notably Megan’s mother – wears exactly the same clothes for the entire movie. I guess this film could only have been made in Canada, where roll-on deodorant is cheap.

And, ye gods, the continuity. Witness, in particular, Megan’s bag as she meanders through the forest with Jacob. Or not. For one second it’s across her shoulder; the next, it’s nowhere to be seen. It’s astonishing that no-one appears to have noticed this, at any point in proceedings. Cheapness doesn’t necessarily have to mean slapdash film-making; indeed, you should be taking greater care over the little things, when those are all you have. As someone else noted [I’ve lost the link], this feels less like a movie, than a piece of course-work, with the aim merely being to get a passing grade.

It all builds to a devastating fist-fight between Victor and the local sheriff, who turns out to be the one responsible for the local killings. Meanwhile, the teacher who gave Megan detention turns out to be the one responsible for making Victor a vampire. Because, of course, if I had eternal life and superpowers, I too would choose to be a high-school teacher in a small Canadian town. It is ended by the deus ex machina of the farmer showing up, blasting Victor with a shotgun, and then vanishing without further role or explanation. Oops. I’ve spoiled it for you. No, the film did that by itself: here are some of the other cringeworthy aspects of this shot-on-video stinker.

  • The establishing shot of Megan’s house, which appears to be used for every scene in it.
  • The detention sequence, where absolutely nothing happens. Seriously. Nothing.
  • Dreadful day-for-night shooting.
  • The incredibly-slow credit crawl, including two credits for each cast member, obviously done to boost the running time of the actual movie from a mercifully-brief 61 minutes.

It’s the kind of movie I was tempted to do as a drinking game, e.g. take a chug every time you notice something stolen from Twilight, or when you spot a continuity error. That way, however, lies alcohol poisoning, and a [now missing from the Internet] interview with writer Kevin J. Lindenmuth shows where the problem at the core of the film lies:

Why don’t you think Twilight works?
Twilight works very, very well if you’ve never seen a vampire movie before, which is probably true of its core audience–teenagers. What, they’ve probably seen a handful of vampire movies? So, for me, the movie was kind of boring and stereotypical. They had the good vampire/bad vampire, the good vampire who only drinks animal blood, the turning into a vampire via a type of venom… yawn.
What is Blood Red Moon about?
It’s exactly what Twilight is about.

Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner folks. The problems of Twilight, freely acknowledged by the writer,  are faithfully reproduced in Blood Red Moon – only, exacerbated a hundred times by the lack of production values. If he had had the guts to go in the different directions occasionally hinted at e.g. how vampirism is an STD, there might have been some hope. Instead, Lindenmuth claims the difference is “sarcasm,” but it’s almost impossible to find any trace of this. There may have been irony in the intent, but there is more to irony than the shameless repeating of someone else’s bad work.


Twilight’s Last Gleaming

The film only opened on Friday, but I have already had it up to here with the cinematic incarnation of Stephenie Meyer’s massively-selling doses of what should probably be called “teen fangst”. I can’t honestly claim to have read the entire book on which the movie is based, but I’ve read enough – for reasons which I’ll get to shortly – to be able to label it as sub-Anne Rice hokum, aimed at undiscerning teenagers with no literary taste, in search of something undemanding to read in between updating their MySpace profiles and writing really bad poetry. It’s not “bad”, per se: though quotes such as “He unleashed the full, devastating power of his eyes on me, as if trying to communicate something crucial,” might make you think otherwise. But it’s just phenomenally mediocre.

I will admit that a copy of Twilight can be found in TC Towers. It was bought for a curious Chris earlier in the year, and she did read it, though doesn’t like being reminded of the fact, and pulls unpleasant faces whenever the author’s name comes up. It’s particularly galling to her, I think, that the idea is one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?” ones. Not that vampires at high-school is exactly ground-breaking. Josh Whedon would be quick to remind you, he took the whole “high-school as hell” metaphor to its literal interpretation, beginning with the movie in 1992. All Meyer has really done is take the Buffy-Angel scenario seriously, and beef up the drooling adjective count by several orders of magnitude.

It has some local resonance too, as Meyer lives her in Phoenix – just up the road in Cave Creek, actually – and went to the same high school as our kids. But perhaps most irritating is the fact that she’s a Mormon. Not that I have anything against Mormons, as such. But there seems something sacrilegious about one of God’s chosen people using the undead to make serious bank. Though it is easy to see the parallels between Edward and Bella, and the restraint they have to show in their relationship and the sexual restraint preached by the church. The irony is that Meyer was inspired to write the books by a dream – just as Joseph Smith was inspired to start the religious faith by a dream…er, divine vision. Why can I get to have dreams that generate quite the same level of revenue?

Typically, it was Trey Parker and Matt Stone who provide the most fitting commentary on the current fad. In the latest episode of South Park, the local Goths get upset at all the vampire wannabes that start showing up in school because it’s become cool. They abduct the leader of the vampire cult, and send him off to the most horrible, and miserable place on Earth.” That would be, according to the response, Scottsdale. Living in 85254 [Scottsdale zip-code, but legally in Phoenix] I am not inclined to argue. In the end – and I hope I am not spoiling this for anyone – they destroy the wannabes by burning down their lair. Or ‘Hot Topic’ as you or I might know it.

Still, in protest at the dumbing-down of the vampire to PG-13 sexlessness, we will be watching an example of the genre tonight – and one about as far from Twilight as can be imagined…

Screw you, Stephenie Meyer!