Stake Land

I am of the mind that vampires should be portrayed as revolting monsters and not teenage pretty boys who sparkle in the sun and fall in love with high school girls.  There are a few exceptions where the more romantic notion of a vampire is used but the movie is still good. Interview with the Vampire, Lost Boys, Bram Stoker's Dracula (although he often transforms into monsters in that one) and a few others.  But when I think true vampires, I think decayed, disgusting undead monsters that would just as soon rip your head off and drink your blood like water from a water fountain than spend time wooing maidens and dressing in formal wear.

Which brings me to Stake Land.  This is how I like my vampires; these are some nasty fucking beasts that mean business.  When you have an infant being killed and fed on in the first 10 minutes of the movie, you know it means business and anyone is fair game.  My wife and I were the recipients of some intense hype for this one from a friend of ours, and although I don’t think it’s quite the revolution in vampire movie making he made it out to be, this is still one hell of a great vamp flick.  If you enjoyed stuff like John Carpenter’s Vampires, 30 Days of Night or Daybreakers you’ll definitely dig this one.

In many ways the movie has more in common with the zombie genre than your usual vampire film.  You have a post apocalyptic type future with a few rag tag survivors trying to make it to a safe zone called New Eden, and the vampires are mostly mindless, and many of them look pretty nasty and decayed.  But I wouldn’t say this was totally derivative, and the vampire menace still had more of the unique vampire aspect.  They’re animalistic, but they don’t just shamble towards their victims, they hunt them.  And of course they can only come out at night.

The movie follows, and is narrated by a teenage boy named Martin (a nod to Romero perhaps?).  His family is slaughtered and he gets rescued by a man known only as Mister.  Mister takes Martin on the road with him up to Canada and New Eden and along the way trains him how to trap, fight and kill vampires.  They pick up other survivors along the way including Danielle Harris from the Halloween films (4 & 5 and the Rob Zombie remakes) and have to battle not only vampires, but a crazed religious cult called The Brotherhood who believes the vampires are doing God’s work by cleansing the earth of the sinners and the impure.  Cannibals are also mentioned, but they didn’t turn up, too bad.

The production values are really good and I was happy that you could actually tell what was happening in the vampire fights and it didn’t over-rely on the usual low budget camera shake to make the action more intense.  All of the performances were also solid, and although not as dreary as say The Road, it kept a good, bleak and hopeless feeling going throughout most of the movie, carried by both the art design and the performances.  Even when things start looking up, shit always finds a way to go wrong, and when it goes wrong, it REALLY goes wrong.

I dug the little touches like how vampire teeth and antibiotics work as currency in the barter system used in the few rag tag towns that remain.  I also liked how the movie had a bit of the old west vibe to it, I don’t think I’ve seen to many other vampire flicks with that angle other than the really shitty sequel to Bloodrayne, and perhaps From Dusk Till Dawn.

Gore wise, this one is solid stuff.  It isn’t necessarily over the top, but the violence is suitably bloody and as I mentioned, I liked the increased sense of danger that any of the characters could die, and no one’s survival is determined by their race or if their a virgin or if they’re a kid or any of the usually horror movie clichés.
Stake Land is a very solid entry into the vampire genre, and a must for fans of the good ol’ blood suckers.  I also recommend this for anyone who has deluded themselves into thinking fucking bullshit like Twilight or that sack of dripping shit Twilight rip-off TV series that I can’t remember the name of and won’t even bother looking up, are worthy additions to the vampire legacy.  See Stake Land and realize that vampires are not romantic, they are revolting undead cannibals that should be feared not idolized.

Long live true vampiric horror, death to shitty teen romance vampire movies!

Stake Land gets my top recommendation!