Sunday, Oct. 20, 8 p.m.
JCC Theatre, $9
Some movies you just want to like because of the title. Think The Toxic Avenger. Or Surf Nazis Must Die. Then there’s Two Thousand Maniacs. Or the far more contemporary — not to mention quality — Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter
And then there’s Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, a movie I really wanted to like. After all, it’s got blasphemy. It’s got irony. It’s got Buffy reference. It’s got a title that fairly screams instant cult classic. It just hasn’t got much of a movie to go with it, even by low-budget cinema standards.
The plot, such as it is: A pack of day-walking vampires is draining the city of Ottowa’s lesbian population — something Sapphic is needed to protect the vampires’ skin from the sunlight. Desperate to stop the purge, the local liberal parish calls in the aid of the one-and-only Jesus Christ to open a can of spiritual whoop-ass on the Canadian demon spawn. At Christ’s side is motorcycle mama Mary Magnum and the Mexican masked wrestler El Santos.
Don’t get me wrong — there’s some good stuff in here. Not long after Jesus comes to town, he’s attacked by the Atheists, determined to put a stop to his second coming. "Consider this the thirteenth station of the cross," says one. The fight scenes are purposely laughable attempts at Hong Kong cinema kung fu moves, without the aid of wires or anyone actually skilled at martial arts.
But those fight scenes, while amusing, simply go on too long. In fact, that problem affects the whole movie. So-called quick cuts take seconds too long — more precise editing would have helped a lot — and too many jokes continue way past the first punchline.
Then there’s Jesus. In his first appearance he’s good old hippy Christ, all long hair, tangled beard and tattered robe, kicking some vampire ass on the beach. But the first thing he gets when hitting the city is a shave and a haircut — in an instant he goes from Ted Nugent Savior to a nice Jewish boy in a bathrobe. Then, adding to the confusion, you have to sit through another entire makeover scene where he loses the robes for a black t-shirt ensemble that would work well in the most generic of gay bars. Maybe the makeover was an inevitable part of the movie, but it robs the film of one of its best jokes.
But then, Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter is so taken with its own joke that it forgets to be funny when it really counts. And unlike the B-movie films it wishes to emulate, Jesus Christ wants to be funny because it’s funny, not because it’s so bad it’s funny. In the end, it doesn’t quite achieve either one. — SB