Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Probally the best Birmingham-based vampire motorcycle movie ever made.

Review From Eat my
"At first glance it seems like the most unlikeliest of combinations: the guy who does the voice of Bob the Builder and the guy who plays C-3PO appearing in the same movie? A horror movie? A British horror movie about a vampire motorcycle set in Birmingham? Well, truth is often stranger than fiction and this movie is living proof of that, or rather proof of what happens when a production company behind a hit show lie to the TV studio backers about doing re-shoots, borrow the show’s sets, props and even actors, and make a low-budget horror comedy of their very own. About a vampire motorcycle. In Birmingham.

The film itself opens with a good old fashioned bit of biker turf war action. A devil worshipping biker gang has moved in to the territory of a rival gang called the ‘Road Toads’ to do a spot of demon summoning, so the Road Toads break out the weapons and carnage ensues. The Road Toads win, slaughtering all the devil worshipping bikers easy, but little do they know they were too late to stop the summoning and the demon is now here finding refuge in a damaged Norton Commando motorcycle.

So when Nick Oddy (or ‘Noddy’ to his friends, Neil Morrissey to you and I) heads off to buy a second hand, slightly damaged Norton motorcycle, you know exactly what to expect. At the beginning things are quiet, with only the brutal decapitation of Noddy’s mate Buzzer giving any hint that something is amiss (that’ll teach him for stealing the bike’s petrol cap). Then there’s the bike’s handling going bananas when Noddy happens to ride past the Road Toads, but he puts that down to dodgy steering, which is sensible really as that’s a little more probable than your bike being a vampire. The straw that finally breaks the camel’s back, though – when the bike reveals it’s true nature – is when Noddy and his girlfriend order a Chinese takeaway from the guy who plays Kato in the Pink Panther movies. That’ll teach them to order garlic prawns.

So with the bike now unveiled it appears that no one in Birmingham is safe. In a few sequences clearly inspired by a handful of contemporary American horrors (An American Werewolf in London immediately springs to mind) the bike goes on the rampage, killing other bikers, traffic wardens, coppers and old people indiscriminately. Noddy soon puts two and two together and he decides to head to the only place he can think of for help: the local church!

Watching I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle again after all these years feels almost like you’re unearthing a lost classic. The crack I made earlier about this movie’s Boon connection (a popular late 80s TV show starring Michael Elphick) sounds like a joke but as you watch the disc’s excellent retrospective documentary you soon realise that it’s absolutely all true. It’s a classic tale of low-budget filmmaking and one that warms any respectable film fans heart. Practically all the principal cast had appeared in Boon at some time or other (except Anthony Daniels), Noddy’s house is Boon’s house and the crew are all the same too. Sure, this gives I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle that cheapo TV movie feel, but this flick’s never going to be winning any awards for direction or cinematography, so who cares? When you’re out to make a tongue-in-cheek horror comedy with sod all budget, you take all the help you can get.

And anyone involved in this project should be proud. The script is knowing and self deprecating, plus it doesn’t mind making Morrissey, the movie’s hero, out to be a lazy male-chauvinist pig. The British predilection with toilet humour is here in full force (the ‘talking turd’ sequence being a particularly disgusting highlight, especially when in jumps into Noddy’s mouth) as is our obsession with having nice cups of tea to solve everything. The music is also suitably ridiculous, ranging an incidental score that sounds like it was lifted from a Carry On movie (yes, they borrowed the composer from Boon, would you believe) to pumping rock tracks, one of which is called “She Runs On Blood... She Don't Run On Gasoline” (which is included in it’s separate entirety as a special feature on the DVD). But the biggest gem in this pot of treasure is seeing Anthony Daniels – Mr C-3PO himself – as a camp gung-ho biker exorcist, complete with razor-sharp throwing-crosses. “Let’s go kick some bottom!”

So, don’t take it seriously and don’t expect anything ground-breaking or Oscar worthy and you won’t be disappointed. Do expect to see biker rock carnage, garlic bandoliers, multiple decapitations, fingers severed, vampire bike POV shots (through the cracked headlight, obviously) and Neil Morrissey with a fake turd hanging out of his mouth. This is one of those good bad classics that I’m sure a lot of people have forgotten about, so thank goodness M.I.A. have finally given this baby the golden DVD treatment it deserves as this is clearly the best Birmingham-based vampire motorcycle movie ever made."

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