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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Blood Sucking Cinema
Blood Sucking Cinema
Starz / Anchor Bay // Unrated // September 23, 2008
List Price: $19.97 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted September 20, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Ever since a German expressionist filmmaker named F.W. Murnau released an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula on an unsuspecting populace in 1922 under the ominous title of Nosferatu, vampires have been a popular mainstay in horror cinema. From Murnau's original black and white nightmare through to modern fare like Underworld vampires continue to fascinate and inspire filmmaker's from around the world. When you consider that vampire pictures have been made everywhere from Germany to Hong Kong, from America to Pakistan and from Mexico to Japan you really have to realize what a huge international phenomena they are and as such, the cinematic legacy of the vampire is ripe for exploration.

With that said, Bloodsucking Cinema: The Origin And Evolution Of The Vampire Movie is sadly a pretty basic affair. While it lines up a good array of talent to talk in front of the camera it really does little more than scratch the surface of the genre and it's lengthy history.

Interviewed in the documentary is a solid line up of people including actors and actresses from vampire pictures like Stuart Townsend of Queen of the Damned, Cheech Marin of From Dusk 'Til Dawn, Corey Haim of The Lost Boys, Kristanna Loken of BloodRayne, effects technicians like Stan Winston and Greg Nicotero, writers and directors like Joel Schumacher, Stephen Summers, Uwe Boll, John Carpenter, John Landis, and Len Wisemen as well as writers Marv Wolfman and David Goyer. Along for the ride are film critics Harry Knowles and Leonard Martin.

The film basically takes us on a quick and abbreviated journey from Murnau's 1922 picture to the insane popularity of the Lugosi/Browning Dracula of 1931 through to the present. The briefly explore the influence of the Mexican vampire films without bothering to even name any of the key players and then move on to talk about how cool Christopher Lee was in Terence Fisher's Horror Of Dracula and it's many studio spin offs. From there we hit the modern day with a look at Tarantino and Rodriguez's re-imagining of the vampire ideal, a quick brush with the films that have been inspired by Anne Rice, and goofier modern day b-movie fare like Uwe Boll's Bloodrayne and the big budget hybrids like the two Underworld films.

This makes for a reasonably entertaining documentary, even if it's way to short at three minutes shy of a full hour's running time, but it doesn't exactly spend too much time trying to explore the deeper themes of some of these films. It's all well and good for Kritanna Locken to tell us that vampire movies are still popular because they're sexy and it's fine that Harry Knowles thinks Christopher Lee is cool (do we need him to tell us that?) but a serious examination of horror's most enduring sub-genre this documentary certainly is not. Rather, it's a collection of pertinent archival clips, a nice selection of international poster art for plenty of films that aren't mentioned (no love for Blood For Dracula? Fah!) and sound bit interview clips spliced into one generic if easily digestible package.

Let there be no doubt, those hoping for a true examination of vampire films will be left wanting. As a primer, a little refresher course, however, Bloodsucking Cinema is perfectly watchable. Those not all that familiar with horror films may find it interesting how varied the different slants afforded movie vampires can be while seasoned fans will dig the clips and images used and a couple of the more interesting interviewees. This isn't deep and it really should have been a lot better - but at least it's a moderately interesting watch.

The Video:

The 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is pretty decent though some of the archival clips, the bits from the 1922 Nosferatu for example, understandably look a little worse for wear. Given that much of the documentary is made up of inserts from films past and present, there's going to be some variation in the video quality for this film. That said, the newly shot interview footage that appears here is in good shape. As far as the authoring goes, there's a little bit of shimmer in some spots but otherwise the picture is strong. There aren't any issues with mpeg compression artifacts or heavy edge enhancement to complain about and color reproduction looks nice and lifelike.

The Audio:

Bloodsucking Cinema arrives on DVD with a nifty Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track in its native English language with optional English subtitles provided. Almost the entire documentary is dialogue based, there's very little in the way of a soundtrack or sound effects outside of the various film clips that are provided, so the 2.0 track is fine. Dialogue is easy to follow and there aren't any problems with hiss or distortion. Levels are well balanced and while this is a fairly simple track, it gets the job done without any problems.

The Extras:

Aside from a couple of previews for other unrelated Anchor Bay DVDs, some static menus and a chapter selection option this DVD is completely barebones and devoid of any extra features whatsoever. A shame, really.

Overall:

While the audio and the video for Bloodsucking Cinema are of decent enough quality, the barebones DVD presentation and short running time don't exactly scream 'mandatory purchase' particularly when you consider that this documentary is really little more than a refresher course for genre fans and brings very little new material to the table. That said, it does give us an interesting look into the popularity of the film and even for those of us who know how vampire cinema has evolved over the years, it makes for a reasonably interesting hour's worth of entertainment. Rent it.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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