The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum
thevideovacuum

SUNDOWN: THE VAMPIRE IN RETREAT (1991) * ½

A small town in the desert welcomes a new family. The residents are actually vampires who use sunblock so they won’t be detected by the outside world. But there’s a faction of vampires led by John Ireland that detest their domesticated neighbors. Armed with bullets made from wooden stakes, they aim to take down David Carradine and his goody two shoes vampire clan.

There are so many problems with Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat that frankly, I don’t even know where to begin. Let’s start with the positives. The flick has a great cast. There’s David Carradine, George “Buck” Flower, M. Emmet Walsh, Maxwell Caulfield (who has a bizarre nude scene), Dana Ashbrook, and even Bruce Campbell (!) as Van Helsing. None of them are given anything worthy of their talents, which is the first problem with the film. Sure, Bruce’s mugging is welcome, but it’s not very funny and honestly, it belongs in another movie.

That’s another problem; the tone. It’s all over the place. Director Anthony (Hellraiser 3) Hickox veers from dumb comedy to maudlin soap opera rather uneasily. In one scene there are stupid talking stop motion animated bats and in the next a husband and wife are having a spat about marital infidelity. None of it really gels.

If Sundown was nothing but Bruce Campbell fighting vampires it would’ve worked, but there’s too much other shit clogging up the movie. Sometimes, the flick plays like a lame western. Other times, it just feels like every other stupid vampire comedy you’ve ever seen. The western stuff is especially awkward. Some scenes feature vampires on horseback and in others they’re riding around in cars. It’s almost as if the filmmakers wanted to do a legitimate period western movie, but they found out at the last minute they couldn’t afford it so they just half-assed everything.

There are just way too many characters and way too many unfunny gags to make it bearable. Not only that, but the film runs 104 minutes, which is about 24 minutes longer than necessary. And the title makes no sense either. I mean wouldn’t the vampire be in retreat at SUNRISE and not sundown?

This is one of those movies where the main character says shit like, “There’s got to be a logical explanation for all this!” and “If it’s a war he wants, a war he’ll get!” That gives you an idea about what to expect. You know you’re in trouble when Bruce Campbell can’t even save your movie.

Tags: bruce campbell, comedy, david carradine, horror, s, vampires
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