Of course, we all know where lustful neck-chomping vampires from a parallel universe would hide out if they ever broke through the space/time continuum and needed a base of operations to conduct weird sex rituals and plan the takeover of the world while hissing their approval of a vampire queen who rabble rouses in bodice-enhancing lingerie.
Yes, that's right -- that old abandoned nut-roasting factory in downtown Baltimore. They come to feed, and, more importantly, they come to breed, in "Stakes," the latest from producer Don Dohler, creator of last year's inbreeding body-parts nightmare, "Harvesters."
I have to say, they do love their exploitation films in Baltimore, a city that, for its size, may produce more B movies than any other place outside of New York and El Lay. Famous not only as the hometown of trash king John Waters, it has also been the scene of many a great fanzine and cult movie festival over the years. For the release of "Stakes" this summer, they even had an actual premiere, with VIPs housed at the nearby Days Inn.
And well they should have.
"Stakes" is the old familiar story of the displaced vampire hunters -- a scientist, a priest, and a revenge-seeking girl with a high-pitched voice -- who escape from a parallel Earth that has been overrun with vampires. (The vampires, by the way, have great wardrobes and are generally the best-looking folks in the cast.)
Most fearsome are the "purebloods," a sort of "Mod Squad" vampire trio -- muscle-shirted head vampire, his busty mini-skirted queen, and a third hot-mama vampiresse whose main job seems to be to have vampire sex with the boss --and they sort of appear out of the vapor in a Baltimore alley where a businessman is being whaled on by two muggers, resulting in a Vampire Happy Meal for all three.
Jake the cop shows up and doesn't like all the neck grue.
His chief suspect is a priest who gives him some lame alibi, then sends the hot babe vampire hunter to get him drunk at a bar, inject him with a "neuromuscular inhibitor," and take him to the secret vampire hunters' lair where our trio from the other side explain to the cop all the vampire rules: stake through any vital organ will kill them, holy water will prevent the dead ones from becoming vampires, and, uh, there are three or four others that got kinda muddled up in the story, but the real hard-to-dispatch nasties are the "purebloods" -- the Mod Undead Squad.
From there on out it's pretty much your standard "Let's kick vampire butt" plot, with the Purebloods holding a little girl hostage in the nut-roasting factory, which we know is a nut-roasting factory because the characters keep talking about the old nut-roasting factory.
The key turning point occurs when the otherwise dull-witted Jake the cop suddenly gets the idea of staying up all night making holy-water ice cubes in special molds that he builds around a wicked steel spike. Get the idea? A stake made entirely of holy water, for those especially hard-to-waste vampiric denizens. They're kinda like homemade Popsicles, but even nastier.
When the vampire busters finally arrive at the nut-roasting factory, helped by the not-too-very-distraught mom of the kidnapped girl, it's cat-and-mouse followed by Vampire Fu followed by cat-and-mouse followed by Vampire Fu until the big cop vs. vampire fistfight (now THAT'S not gonna work) on the nut-roasting catwalk.
One great thing about these vampires is that, when they DO finally die, they just sort of go up in a cloud of steam, saving hundreds of dollars in needless gore effects. My kinda movie.
Let's take a look at those drive-in totals. We have:
Twenty-two dead bodies. Two breasts. Chomping. Splattering. Glowing-red-eye feeding frenzies. Impalement. Neuromuscular inhibitor neck-zapping. Multiple neck-ripping. Head-on-a-stick blood-licking. Multiple staking, to the chin, heart, back, stomach, chest. Blood-draining. Holy-water injections. Vampire torture. Bullet through the brain. Garrotting. Funeral pyre. Head rolls. Two fistfights. Gratuitous Gore de Vol. Baltimore Fu.
Drive-In Academy Awards for Ashira Zimra, as the squeaky-voice vampire hunter who drinks straight-up vodka and screams "It can't be! No one knows about this!"; Leanna Chamish as the kinky Vampire Queen, who luxuriates on her throne and says "The day of reckoning is within our grasp!"; John Michaelson as Dragus, the ripped-deltoid undead villain, who likes to hack off the heads of his victims; Steven King, as the nerd scientist turned camouflage guerrilla vampire hunter; George Stover, as the goofball priest, for saying "I think the purebloods are here"; Jamie Bell, as the Baltimore cop who comes to believe in vampires; Erin J. Corsair, as the befuddled mom; and Syn Devil, as the vampiresse who's always on booty call.
Two stars. Joe Bob says check it out.
Web site for "Stakes": timewarpfilms.com.
(To reach Joe Bob, go to joebob-briggs.com or email him at JoeBob@upi.com. Snail-mail: P.O. Box 2002, Dallas, Texas 75221.)