DVD Review: Darkness: The Vampire Version

Darkness: The Vampire Version

In 1993, we saw an independent filmmaker, Leif Jonker release his film, Darkness. Now, Jonker not only directed this film, he also wrote, produced, had a hand in the original music, edited the film, did special makeup effects and did sound as well! The film cast is, as far as I can tell, complete unknowns, but includes; Gary Miller (Tobe), Michael Gisick (Greg), Randall Aviks (Liven), Cena Donham (Kelly), Steve Brown (Jodie), Lisa Franz (Dianne), Bill Hooper (Glenn), Christopher Owen Michael (Steve) and Jake Euker (John).

Tobe (Miller) either works at or just happens to be in a convenience store when John (Euker) comes storming into the store screaming that everyone must leave, that ‘He’ is coming. A female cop attempts to calm John down, but he grabs her gun and announces that it’s too late…..we’re already dead and proceeds to blow his brains out. As the cop and customers and workers stand in shock, John suddenly jumps up, grabs the cop and tells her it’s bleeding time and pumps a few shots into her guts and then begins munching on her body.

It isn’t long before Tobe is the sole survivor and sets out to the trailer park where his family lives, only to find them dead….he carries his Mom and sister into his car and as he drives down the road, both suddenly come to, which leaves Tobe a complete mess, screaming and crying as he escapes his dead/murderous family. Tobe realizes that his town has been ravaged by Levin (Aviks) a vampire of sorts who plans to destroy the town and its inhabitants along with his minions. Tobe joins forces with some teens who have just returned from a rock concert in an effort to destroy the evil that has taken over their town.

Darkness: The Vampire Version was shot on Super 8 and is presented here in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) and has quite a bit of grain, but that is to be expected with what it was filmed on. Daytime scenes don’t look bad, but nighttime scenes suffer and look very dark, almost to the point of guessing what might be happening at times. Another minor complaint might be that at times, the gallons of blood being spilled look quite pink! Audio options are in English only (Dolby Digital 2.0) with no subtitles being offered at all. Bonus features are abundant and include:

-Commentary Tracks

-Track 2/Cast & Crew–Gary Miller, Mike Gisick, Cena Donham, Lisa Franz, Jake Euker, Veronica Dennen, Randall Aviks, Cara Miller and Leif Jonker

-Track 3/Music & FX Track–Michael Curtis, Leif Jonker and Gary Miller

-Track 4/Director Track–Leif Jonker

-Vampire Boot Camp–Documentary With Cast & Crew Interviews (Approximately 30 Minutes)

-Apostasy–Live Performance Music Video For ‘World of Sin’ (Approximately 4 Minutes)

-Trailers–Two Darkness Trailers and Two 60-Second Promotional Teaser Trailers For the Darkness Trilogy (Approximately 10 Minutes)

-Behind the Scenes–Climactic Meltdown SPFX–Video Footage of the Filming of Four Exploding Heads For the Meltdown (Approximately 22 Minutes)

-Extended Meltdown–From the First Rough-Cut Assembly (Approximately 5� Minutes)

-Remastering Demo–(Approximately 2� Minutes)

-Photo Gallery–With Original End Credit Song ‘Darkness’ By Knight (Approximately 4 Minutes)

Darkness � The 86-minute original release version, unaltered and unedited, sourced directly from the 1� video master

Photo Archive � Comprehensive 50-minute gallery of over 1000 images documenting the production and �life� of the film, all accompanied by excerpts of the original music score for Darkness

Highlights from film festival screenings of Darkness

A brief tour of the production studio

Deth�s Oogly Hed � Television interview segment with director Leif Jonker

Alternate/deleted scenes

Alternate trailers

Alternate audio track available over the entire BONUS MATERIALS on both discs featuring alternate music and sound as well as commentary from Leif Jonker and others

Let’s face it, you usually don’t go into a film like this for the stellar acting, great story or huge budget…..you go into a film like this for the blood, guts and gore! Darkness: The Vampire Version is low on plot and acting abilities, but high on the blood meter. From the opening scene until the end of the film, the blood flows quite freely and if the blood isn’t flowing, the shortcomings of the acting and plot are glaringly apparent! Not to worry, though, you have few minutes in this film where someone isn’t being ripped to shred, squirting blood all over the place or being shown up close in a convulsing death scene. The ‘meltdown’ scene is probably a gore-lover’s dream come true and adds a couple of jaw-dropping moments. Kind of a neat idea for a film, though, a sort of cross between a vampire and a zombie film, it’s just a shame the story wasn’t a big stronger.

From what I understand, this is a re-release of the film and had until this time, only been available on DVD in Germany and Japan, and from the sequences shown before the film begins, this edition appears to be a vast improvement over the earlier two releases. Barrel Entertainment, the fine crew that gave us Special Editions of both Nekromantik films, along with Roger Watkin’s Last House on Dead End Street, have really outdone themselves with this DVD release. Certainly not to be recommended to fans of horror films with a solid story to back up the effects, but if you’re a fan who enjoys a very ‘moist’ and bloody film, then I’d certainly not hesitate in recommending this film.