Sunday, 6 February 2011



Quality over quantity. Much as it looks like a bargain to get a box set of ten films for £15, or fifty public-domain obscurities for £25, it has to be said that it's less of a bargain if most of them are absolute stinkers and the two or three decent titles in the box you could have actually picked up cheaper, and in better quality. "Ten Great Horror Classics"? Make that "Two Decent Horror Films, Some Cheap TV Quickies, Four Movies We Didn't Have To Pay Anything For And A Bad VHS Transfer Of Some Crap We Found Lying In A Cupboard And Gave It A New Title". So you get yet another DVD of House On Haunted Hill and Night Of The Living Dead (because no-one owns the rights), a couple of headline franchise titles like Hellraiser III or Halloween IV, and a lot of low-budget items you've never heard of, but hey, the whole set was only a tenner so even if they're rubbish it was still a good deal, right? Especially if you actually like hanging out in the backwaters of low-budget horror and weirdness.

Case in point: Demon Under Glass, a cheapie from 2002 in which a blood-draining serial killer nicknamed Vlad is finally apprehended but, rather than simply being locked up, is whisked away to what is meant to be a Top Security Research Facility on the top floor of a Veterans' Hospital as the focal point of Project Delphi. Because Vlad is actually a vampire from the days of Hadrian and may hold the key to eradication of disease, or even immortality. While some of the doctors wrestle with the moral implications of their research, and whether they can justify running painful tests on something intelligent and cultured (and which was originally human), their leader's theories and experiments become ultimately murderous....

The trailer asks the question "Who is the monster?" - the homicidal vampire, or the boffins exposing him to sunlight to measure his recuperative powers? Which is fine, and it's good to see a vampire movie attempting some depth and weight rather than just piling on the blood and tits. Sadly, for all its ambition, it doesn't really work as the acting isn't stellar (Vlad excepted: he's kind of interesting) and visually it's just flat and uninteresting - the night-time sequences at the start in particular are very badly lit and photographed.

It isn't a disaster, and it isn't boring; it's literate, it's occasionally nicely written, and it has ambition but it doesn't have the resources or cast to properly deliver. Which is a shame, and it's frustrating as the ideas are obviously there. Mysteriously the film has no main credits other than the title either at the start or at the end before the usual crawl, so the writer, director, producers, composer and so on are actually unbilled.


Amazon stock this, if you really want it:

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