Friday, October 15, 2010

Conrad Brooks tries to out Ed-Wood Ed Wood (and fails miserably)

Gypsy Vampire: The Final Bloodlust (2009)
Starring: Bruce "Porkchop" Lindsay, Mark Byrne, Matt Burns, Gail Maureen Hanson, Donna Burns, John Durham, Judi Durham, and Conrad Brooks
Director: Conrad Brooks
Rating: Zero of Ten Stars

A writer named Raider (Byrne) comes to visit a mortuary for... well, for some reason. Here, Count Lugo (Lindsay), a vampire posing as a mortician and moonlighting as a zombie master, turns him into a vampire so he can lure Dr. Cabasa (Durham) to the mortuary, so he can make him revive a dead woman to be his bride. But when Lugo's chief zombie (Burns) falls in love with Cabasa's lovely assistant (Hanson), he leads a zombie revolt and hijacks the Satanic ritual so he can marry her instead. I think.

Conrad Brooks, the writer/director/producer of "Gypsy Vampire" was a bit-player in a slew of movies during the 1950s and 1960s. He had retired from acting until the combination of a book by Michael Medved and Harry Medved, along with the Tim Burton comedy "Ed Wood" revived interest in Brooks' friend and third-rate filmmaker Edward D. Wood, Jr. Brooks has claim to fame of having appeared in every movie that Wood directed, and for the past twenty years, he's been a fixture on the convention circuit, cashing in the rest of his 15 minutes of fame.

Brooks has often spoken of his affection for Edward D. Wood, Jr.--and he does so at length in a 1990 interview/mini-documentary titled "On the Trail of Ed Wood", the DVD release of which also contains "Gypsy Vampire: The Final Bloodlust".

Thanks to the Medved Brothers and Burton's movie, Edward D. Wood, Jr. is often labeled as "the worst filmmaker ever" by reviewers and critics who can't be bothered to actually watch his movies (or, at best, they label "Plan 9 From Outer Space" as "the worst movie ever"). Uwe Boll is starting to become the "new Ed Wood" for such lazy commentators, but the label of "worst filmmaker" is equally false when applied to either gentleman. Anyone who has devoted any real time at all to trawling through random films at the bottom of the cinematic barrel knows for a fact that Wood Boll are nowhere near the worst directors, and none of their films come even close to being the worst that is out there.

Conrad Brooks, for example, has made a far more awful movie than either Wood or Boll have ever been brazen enough to inflict upon the public. With random posterization of some scenes and others being in black-and-white for no discernable reason; costumes and make-up effects as awful as the actors wearing them; a nonsensical storyline; camera-work barely suitable for YouTube video than a film; and editing so bad a it would earn any beginning film student a failing grade, even if he or she was sleeping with the professor, there is nothing in this film that is at all competently made.

I'm not sure what Brooks was trying to achieve with this movie. Perhaps just to have a good time with a bunch of young actors. Perhaps he was trying to emulate his old friend Ed Wood and make a movie that out-Ed-Wooded Ed Wood. If it was the latter, Brooks certainly managed to make an awful movie, but he failed to capture that intangible, poetic quality that Ed Wood managed to bring to the messy pictures he created.

Watching this movie, I found myself wondering if Brooks ever paid attention to movies while he was watching them. Such niceties as varying between close-ups and two-shots, the ocassional zoom and reverse angle shots are all simple cinematic elements that anyone should be able to see the value in after just watching one or two movies. But not, apparently, Conrad Brooks. This movie is so incompetently and amateurishly made that watching it through to the end is a test of stamina, and it deserves the dubious honor of being at the very bottom of the scale.

(If you have a "bad filmmaker" that you have a warm spot for in your heart, you should bring up this movie the next time you see someone tossing out that "worst filmmaker" or "worst movie" label. If the critic casting aspersions hasn't seen "Gypsy Vampire: The Final Bloodlust", they are in on position to judge what is and isn't "the worst movie ever."

The cleverest thing about the film is that it was shot in a pair of famous "haunted Halloween houses,"--Creekside Manor in Maryland, and Darkwood Manor in Virginia. A few years back, I did security of one such Halloween haunted house, and I often thought its various sets would work well if one were to film a low-budget horror picture on them. It's nice to see that great minds think alike. Of course, Brooks also used many of the actors who perform in the Darkwood Manor spook-maze in his flick, which wasn't such a good idea. I've no doubt they're perfectly capable of spooking people in dark hallways, but virtually none of them understood how to act in front of a camera. It really is a toss-up between who was more incompetent, director Brooks or almost any member of his cast you could mention. (The exception are Brooks, who with more than half a century's experience should probably do better than he does, but he looks like Boris Karloff next to the people he shares scenes with, and Donna Burns, who showed enough presence that I think she could have done far better if she had been delivering better lines in scenes that had been properly edited.)

No comments:

Post a Comment