Sometimes, indie filmmakers can work magic out of next to no money. Other times, a budget really matters. Let’s look at Chasing Darkness and Rise: Blood Hunter.
CHASING DARKNESS (2007)
Chasing Darkness is micro-budget home-brewed stuff, the dead giveaway being the usual blaring heavy metal soundtrack created by a garage band with big dreams…not to mention the shot-to-video look. Plus, every scene in this movie about vampires with the word “darkness” in the title is shot in broad daylight.
This is the kind of independent film that will get friends and family slapping the director on the back with supportive words of praise when it screens at a local venue, but for a general audience, it suffers from a lack of professional resources, especially considering it’s trying to deliver a broad premise.
The plot revolves around a young mafia man who wants to break away from the family after his nagging girlfriend is turned into a vampire. So he ends up taking on the mob and a mob of vampires. The action and horror sequences interspersed between loads of dialogue just can’t sustain the way too long hour and forty-five minute running time and aren’t enough to propel the movie forward, as they become repetitive after a while.
There’s plenty of low-budget gore and wickedly cool vampire makeup that would easily win someone some big prizes at a Halloween costume contest—the girlfriend and the lead vamp in particular—and would have been even more impressive in the film if it had taken place at night. For instance, this scene, which takes place in a basement. EEK!
But the highlight for me is leading man Todd Humes, who has several scenes in which he walks around in tight boxer briefs that he fills out very nicely.
Director Jason Hull made short holiday horror films about Krampus, the Christmas legend, so I really want to check those out.
RISE: BLOOD HUNTER (2007)
Rise: Blood Hunter is like Sin City meets Kill Bill. So who better to play a vengeful vampire than sexy and bitchy Lucy Liu?
Lucy is a reporter who enters an underworld of gothic parties that, it turns out, are vampire buffets. But this isn’t a simple story of a reporter trying to expose the truth about vampires. No way. The vamps catch, rape, and feast on Lucy—who wakes up in a morgue to find she’s become a bloodsucker! As she struggles with the trauma of accepting her new existence, a kind and gentle vamp trains her in the fine art of a sucky life. Soon, Lucy decides she wants revenge on the vamps that turned her.
She hunts them down one by one and it’s all deliciously dark, violent, gory, and action-packed. Plus, she teams up with Michael Chiklis, playing a cop who lost his daughter to the vamps and is determined to avenge her death.
Rise: Blood Hunter is like a graphic novel come to life with Liu and Chiklis as our heroes. Perfect.