Dir. Phil Claydon. UK. 2009. 84 mins.
British cinema is littered with the broken dreams of popular television comedians who failed to make the transition to the big screen. BAFTA-winning Gavin & Stacey duo James Corden and Matthew Horne are the latest ones to accept the challenge but their horror spoof Lesbian Vampire Killers is more Sex Lives Of The Potato Men than Shaun Of The Dead. An uninspired concoction of overly familiar ingredients, this crude comedy seems aimed at booze-filled lads looking for an undemanding Friday night diversion. The incredibly high UK profile of Corden and Horne plus carefully fuelled anticipation of the title might provide some impressive initial figures in Britain but word of mouth will be lethal. There seems little cause to believe Lesbian Vampire Killers will travel well beyond its home territory.
Lesbian Vampire Killers is so disappointing because there is such a strong tradition of British horror films and horror comedies (Carry On Screaming, Shaun Of The Dead etc) from which screenwriters Paul Hupfield and Stewart Williams might have drawn inspiration. Their lamentable script always settles for the easy comic options of profanity, bad taste and copious amounts of body fluids.
The majority of the female characters merely function as sex objects, kitted out in tight shorts or diaphanous gowns as the camera endlessly lingers on heaving bosoms and pert buttocks. It's almost as if Benny Hill had returned from beyond the grave. Director Phil Claydon doesn't help matters by adopting a brash, comicbook style complete with dissolves, wipes, on-screen titles and speeded up sequences. He also subjects the viewer to a barrage of slow-motion ogling of the female form and whilst it might be justified as post-modern it doesn't render it any the less offensive.
Touted as 'Withnail & I meets Buffy', the film does draw some inspiration from the more outre 1970s Hammer titles like Lust For A Vampire and Twins of Evil. A convoluted backstory briskly unfolds in the opening moments leaving us with Cragwich village under the evil curse of vanquished vampire queen Carmilla (Silvia Colloca). This means that all the girls in the area turn into lesbian vampires when they reach the age of eighteen.
Randy, unemployed Fletch (Corden) and his broken-hearted best mate Jimmy (Horne) head off on a cheap hiking holiday and inevitably wind up in Cragwich where they meet Lotte (MyAnna Buring) and a group of continental lovelies intent on investigating the supernatural legends of the area.
Jimmy just happens to be the last of the McLaren line. A drop of his blood could revive Carmilla but were he to destroy her it would finally lift the curse from the village.
The biggest problem with Lesbian Vampire Killers is the absence of belly laughs and those big set set piece comic moments that guarantee audience satisfaction. The dialogue lacks wit and there's a leaden predictability to the unfolding plot as the hapless duo prepare to battle Carmilla with the help of an earnest priest (Paul McGann). Corden does raise a few smiles as the blustering, cowardly Fletch, a man inclined to weigh self-interest against the requirements of friendship but Horne makes a bland hero and everyone else seems to have been encouraged to perform in exaggerated, pantomime mode. When the vampires are despatched to eternal hell they ejaculate copious amounts of a gloopy white substance and that's pretty indicative of the film's prevailing tone of crude slapstick.
Lesbian Vampire Killers is mercifully brief and easily forgotten. The fact that Corden and Horne didn't write the script may mean that they can avoid some of the blame for its inadequacies and make a further attempt at big screen success. On the other hand, you do have to question what they saw in the material in the first place.
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