Judge Paul Pritchard wonders whether lesbian vampires suck?
The Power Of Christ Impales You!!
"If I'm not back in five minutes, call the Pope!"
Facts of the Case
The second coming is here. Returning to Earth to complete his work, Jesus is quickly recruited by the church to battle a horde of day-walking lesbian vampires.
After updating his image, Jesus (Phil Caracas) joins forces with Mary Magnum (Maria Moulton) and Mexican wrestler Santo (Jeff Moffet) to defeat the vampires, atheists, and anyone else who dares stand in their way.
It's reasonably safe to assume that if the title Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter doesn't appeal to you, you probably aren't of the right mindset to enjoy the movie. This kung fu-musical-comedy-horror picture populated by lesbian vampires and hairy chested cross-dressers, which sees Jesus communicate with God via a bowl of cherries and ice cream, is purely for those who like their movies to come out of left field—way out of left field.
Coming across as the brainwave of two drunken college friends, and shot with a similar amount of vigor, Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter feels like the less successful older sibling of Don Coscarelli's Bubba Ho-Tep. Like Bubba Ho-Tep, JCVH takes historical figures and throws them into an alternative B-movie setting. Unlike Bubba Ho-Tep, JCVH feels a lot more random. This is a mess of a movie that triumphs through sheer passion and the odd spark of genius.
Though the mishmash of genres that makes up JCVH never fits together too convincingly, it's hard to fault the hard work of the cast and crew which, more often than not, results in a great midnight movie. After all, where else can you see Jesus performing a big song and dance number one minute and a vampire wielding someone's intestines like a pair of nunchuks the next?
A Matrix-inspired showdown between Jesus and a band of atheists provides an early highlight. Standing off in a public park, the atheists introduce themselves, "You don't know us, because we've never talked to you before!" before setting upon Jesus with their mob. Containing a nice gag that sees hordes of atheists pouring out of a small jeep and dialogue that parodies the action genre ("We're taking you're second coming ass down!"), the sequence is soon topped by the appearance of Mexican wrestler Santo. A bold, bizarre, and brilliant addition to the film, Santo (for reasons never really explained) is tasked with aiding Jesus in defeating the vampire cult, though his raging loins see him frequently lusting after the lesbian vampires.
For those worried they'll condemn their souls to hell for even reading this review, you can rest assured that Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter isn't particularly religious or blasphemous. I'm sure some people will take offense, since the sight of our savior taking a kick to the gonads before performing a back breaker on a lesbian vampire may well give rise to their ire. But honestly, the average person—Christian or not—will find the religious content to be negligible.
This Blu-Ray's 1.78:1 widescreen transfer is never going to win any awards. Colors are washed out and the image is extremely grainy, sometimes to the point of distraction. The picture is soft and plagued by frequent occurrences of dirt. On the plus side, this inconsistent transfer does have decent levels of detail and the worn-looking print adds to the B-movie vibe. All told, it's really not such a great transfer that I'd recommend upgrading from the DVD version. The disc's mono soundtrack initially made me wonder whether my setup had developed a problem. There's virtually no clarity, with sounds and dialogue often being indistinguishable in this lifeless mix. But again, just like the video transfer, the technical shortcomings are balanced by the (intentionally?) poor dubbing, which sees lip-synching go out the window. It all adds to the cheeseball appeal of the movie.
Kicking off the special features is a cast and crew commentary. Except it seems someone forgot to include it on the disc. Despite any claims the packaging might make, there is no commentary track to be found. Instead we're left with a trailer and the "Remembering JCVH" documentary. Reuniting some of the cast and crew, this short piece is only going to be of value for diehard fans of the film.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter is a blunt instrument. There's no subtlety to the humor; fight scenes are shot with all the grace of a high school production while the performances contain more cheese than your local hamburger emporium.
If I were to review the film on its technical merits only, it would score very poorly; there's a very thin plot at the core of the film that quickly begins to fall apart under close scrutiny. In short, there's a lot to find fault with. Add a less-than-convincing argument for the film getting the hi-def treatment, and this is a questionable release.
Watching Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter on Blu-Ray leads me to make two conclusions: 1) No film could possibly live up to a title like that. 2) If films like this are already being released on Blu-Ray, then the format is surely closer than ever to mainstream acceptance.
This is trash cinema to be savored for those with the taste for it. It's not for everyone. As a very rough barometer, if you prefer Peter Jackson's early work such as Meet The Feebles or Bad Taste over The Lord of the Rings, then Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter may just be the movie for you.
And Judge Paul Pritchard said, "Let there be a not guilty verdict" and lo, there was a not guilty verdict.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: MVD Visual
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