A boring movie calms Judge Gordon Sullivan's passions to tears.
"A sophisticated reworking of the vampire genre with film noir stylistics."
In college I took a creative writing course (I even wrote a short screenplay!), so I know how difficult it can be to come up with plots and characters, let alone ones that are engaging and believable. However, that's really just the ante at the filmmaking table; having friends who are willing to get naked and slathered in blood is going to make up for a lack of either characters or plot. A Nocturne: Night of the Vampire tries to substitute moody shots, a metal soundtrack, and lame attempts at "philosophizing" for character development and plot. Although released by the venerable Troma label, there's little of the usual goofy gore and nudity the studio is known for, and the presentation of this disc won't do much to help their reputation in the technical departments.
Ostensibly, A Nocturne: Night of the Vampire is the story of X (Vanessa de Largie) and Z (Alex Spears), vampires who disdain the mere mortals who surround them in inner-city Melbourne. The pair wander the city, in search of victims, but they too are stalked by others. Of course, even this makes it sound like there's more of a plot than there really is. Most of the film's interminable 70 minutes is taken up with long shots of the characters doing nothing or spouting poor dialogue. There's a victim or two along the way, and even some blood and breasts, but that doesn't really add up to a "plot."
I'll give A Nocturne one thing: it sounds like a good idea on paper. The film opens with a quote from famed philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche that basically says that only the "evil" people can help advance humanity because society calms too many of our passions. Thus, for this film, vampires are the next stage for humanity, urging the merely mortal to greater heights. However, rather than a simple biological supremacy, vampires stand in for a freer, more advanced philosophical and moral being. A speech by one of X's and Z's pals later in the film reveals that although X and Z might think themselves above humanity because of their passion and "evil," they are instead a product of what they feed on. This opens up the philosophical question about how good relates to evil and the inferior to the superior, both of which are fascinating questions. I can applaud A Nocturne for trying to take on those grand themes in the otherwise debased genre of the vampire film, if for no other reason than the superficial connection between Nietzsche's conception of the Superman and the figure of the vampire.
The only problem is, it doesn't work. Philosophy and film can certainly work together, but those pesky questions of character and plot have to be dealt with first. We don't learn enough about our would-be Supermen throughout the film to make us care about them, and the plot, such as it is, isn't engaging enough to make the philosophical questions worth pondering. I appreciate mood and atmosphere, but by 7 minutes into the film (one tenth the running time), not a single line of significant dialogue nor any real plot had revealed itself. Instead, we're treated to lots of long, slow shots of characters we don't know or care about being vampires or going about their day. Maybe there's an artistic point to marrying grand themes to daily minutia, but I must have missed it.
Troma is not generally known for producing top-notch DVDs, and this disc is no exception (although it's far from their worst effort). A Nocturne looks like it was shot on consumer equipment, so the video source was never going to look that great. Detail is pretty weak, black levels are more like grey levels, and the image is somewhat noisy due to the dim environments. It's certainly watchable, but it's not going to strain anyone's system. The audio is similarly presented in a no-frills stereo track. Dialogue is usually pretty well balanced, but there's obvious distortion created by less than stellar on-set recording. Again, it's totally listenable, but nothing special. The main extra for the film is a collection of 20 minutes of deleted scenes. They might contain more dialogue than the other 70 minutes of the feature film, but they're hardly revelatory. The disc also includes the film's trailer. There's a batch of the usual Tromatic extras, including trailers, PSAs, credits, etc.
I can't really think of anything to recommend A Nocturne: Night of the Vampire except maybe for the desperate and/or brave. Prescription medication may help the viewing experience, but barring that, this film should probably be avoided.
A Nocturne: Night of the Vampire is guilty of sucking the life out of viewers.
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