Oh, I had such high hopes for this 2008 genre mashup. For starters there's a lead role for Tiffany Shepis, a true B queen if there ever was one, an always enjoyable firecracker presence even when a film of hers is somehow less than memorable. As a rule I would follow Shepis anywhere cinematically (and elsewhere), and the notion of her as one-half of the infamous bankrobbing duo doing battle with Dracula seemed like a giddy dream come true. Then there's the grand promise of the title itself, a high-concept matchup that conjures up all sorts of staggering possibilities of the high-camp B-movie glory variety.
All of that implied awesomeness unfortunately falls a little short in the delivery department, as writer/director Timothy Friend seems to forget to bring everyone together until the rushed third act, and up until that point the film is sadly rather uneventful. While there's plenty of non-vampire-related Bonnie and Clyde side story, with Shepis playing well alongside a likeable and cool Trent Haaga, there isn't much for them to do expect travel along a path that we the viewer hopes will get them to Dracula as soon as possible. I'll confess to enjoying the dynamic between Shepis and Haaga, so it wasn't like I didn't necessarily mind seeing them onscreen, but with the promise of some kind of vampire battle lurking it just made me antsy.
There's a parallel story going on here as well, involving the apparently evil Dr. Loveless (Allen Lowman), a disfigured nut job who wears an Elephant Man bag on his head while performing pseudo-steampunk experiments involving the revived corpse of Dracula (Russell Friend). Loveless wants to harness something from Drac in order to cure himself, and when he's not connecting himself to bizarre devices he is mentally and physically torturing his simpleton assistant Annabel (Jennifer Friend - yes, a lot of Friends in this production). Annabel is the film's comic relief - and while perhaps a bit overplayed at times - Jennifer Friend brightened up the tedium, and when a character can overshadow an evil doctor AMD Dracula, well then that's just aces in my book.
By the time Timothy Friend gets us to the "vs" part of the title the film seems to hurry itself along far too quickly. Conflict resolution is odd, almost titularly incorrect, and while I savored the brief visual cool of Bonnie and Clyde firing their way through a mass of nicely dressed vampires there was just not enough of that. The big battle is over almost before it begins, and that is problematic on a number of levels. It's almost as if this should have been called Bonnie and Clyde MEET Dracula BRIEFLY. I can forgive a B-movie much in the way of imperfections - such as the sketchy CG muzzle flashes or the overall lack of gratuitous nudity (save for the single obligatory Shepis unveiling), but I cannot forgive a film with Dracula in the title where everyone's favorite vampire is the least memorable thing in the whole picture.
I wanted this to be so much more than it was. and for that I was disappointed. Sorry about that, Tiffany.
The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is not surprisingly - given the tiny budget - an inconsistent mixture of a few grainy night shots and mostly strong interior/daylight sequences. Good new is that when it is not nighttime the range of colors and fleshtones are warm and lifelike (I'm talking to you, Tiffany-Shepis-bathtub-scene), and the print is clean with no speckling or debris.
The 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo audio track is a perfunctory mix, delivering clear dialogue but not much in the way of depth or presence. Simple and effective, but rather plain overall.
My review copy was a DVD-R screener that only contained the film, but the menu promised the street version would contain an audio commentary from cast/crew, an official trailer, a horror trailer, a behind the scenes segment, a Loveless viral video and sneak previews. Your mileage may vary.
Despite an absolutely great title/concept and the presence of B-movie icon Tiffany Shepis this one doesn't spend nearly enough time on the "vs" part of the story. And that's just wrong.