There are two kinds of vampire movies made today. There’s the kind where the vamps want to kill you (VAMPIRES, 30 DAYS OF NIGHT) and there’s the kind where they want to kiss you (INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE, TWILIGHT). Let’s face it folks, vampires are just a lot more interesting when they’re trying to suck the blood out of your neck, not when they’re getting all weepy and sparkly and sexy on your ass. I like my vamps cold-blooded and looking for a fresh kill, not a life partner. That’s why I thoroughly enjoyed the new independent horror flick, STAKE LAND so darn much. The vampires in this very entertaining little post-apocalyptic horror flick are more like the zombies in a Romero movie. They’d much rather suck an infant child dry for a snack than try to hold your hand and ask you to prom.
STAKE LAND takes place in a hellish vision of America where almost every living soul has either been eaten by or turned into a blood-sucking vampire from a mysterious, unexplained plague. Here we meet the veteran vamp slayer, Mister (played with bad assed charm by co-writer Nick Damici) and his teenage apprentice, Martin (Connor Paolo), who was rescued by the elder when he lost his entire family in a vamp attack shortly after the epidemic first began. Together they roam the barren, desolate country side in a beat up old Ford muscle car, looking for survivors to take with them to the rumored “New Eden”, that’s located somewhere across the Canadian border. Along the way they put together a surrogate “family” of survivors that include: a nun aptly named Sister (Kelly McGillis) and a young pregnant mother named Belle (played by modern day scream Queen and total cutie pie, Danielle Harris).
But the road to Eden is paved with many dangers, sometimes the least of which being the undead. There are clans of human cannibals who’ve run out of food and don’t mind feasting on fellow survivors. Then there’s this gosh darned cult of homicidal Christians that suck almost as bad as the vamps do. They get their fundamental kicks by dropping captured blood-suckers out of their helicopters and into the campgrounds of those whom they’ve determined to be sinners. Christ on a cracker! You’ve got to love a vampire movie where the biggest threat is a bunch of crazed tea baggers on a religious crusade!
Director Jim Mickle does a nice job of channeling the sensibilities of old school horror filmmakers like John Carpenter and George Romero, and much like a Romero zombie film, STAKE LAND’s strength comes from its strong social commentary. It points a wooden stake at religious fundamentalism almost as often as it does at the killer vamps and THIS is what elevates it into something much more original and interesting than other films of this type. Even in a world overrun with vampires, mankind is still the most frightening thing to deal with.
STAKE LAND is an original horror movie that is being released by IFC Films and it is NOT a remake or a sequel. It mixes a little of THE ROAD with I AM LEGEND and ZOMBIELAND and creates something new, interesting and frightening that should be seen and supported by fans of the genre everywhere. There are a lot of great action sequences, some terrific scares, tons of great gore, solid acting performances, a very smart script and some beautiful cinematography that sets a perfectly bleak tone with images of grim looking landscapes that are filled with overcast skies, dead forests and murky blue hues. The film was made with a lot of love and hard work that shows from beginning to end. Go see it, suckers!