on May 7, 2004
Robert Van Helsing (Bruce Campbell) is an incompetent descendant of Count Dracula, exploring the small town of Purgatory in search of his infamous ancestor. But Purgatory is inhabited by reclusive vampires who prefer to take it easy and lounge around in sunglasses and sun cream - a protection against the sun's deadly rays. There is no sign of the Count.
David Harrison (Jim Metzler) is an expert in the production of synthetic blood, hired to assist in a project that will ensure the vampires of Purgatory no longer need to kill for food. He is nevertheless unaware that Purgatory is populated by the undead, thinking his work as part of an official experiment.
Things go wrong, though. The equipment suddenly ceases to work and the evil Shane (Maxwell Caulfield), the project's original creator, turns up to investigate. He falls in love with Harrison's beautiful wife and, meanwhile, some of the toothy townspeople decide that the traditional ways of obtaining blood are preferable.
A war inevitably breaks out, resulting in vampire against human, vampire against vampire. Good versus evil.
SUNDOWN is directed by Anthony Hickox of WAXWORK, WAXWORK 2: LOST IN TIME, and HELLRAISER 3: HELL ON EARTH fame. It is a low budget, off-beat film that is perhaps not to everyone's taste. Somewhere in between comedy and horror, SUNDOWN has nevertheless gained cult status, similar to other films in this subgenre like THE LOST BOYS, FRIGHT NIGHT, INNOCENT BLOOD, TALES FROM THE CRYPT: BORDELLO OF BLOOD, and A RETURN TO SALEM'S LOT.
The Cast is well chosen: Maxwell THE SUPERNATURALS Caulfield, Dana TWIN PEAKS Ashbrook, Bruce EVIL DEAD Campbell, and David KUNG FU Carradine, who plays Jozek Mardulak aka Count Dracula. M. Emmet Walsh delivers a hilarious performance as Mort Brisby, an ageing vampire/gas station attendant, but SUNDOWN inevitably belongs to Campbell.
Point of interest: Hickox's WAXWORK starred Dana Ashbrook, and his sequel WAXWORK 2: LOST IN TIME starred Caulfield, Campbell, and Carradine.
on January 4, 2009
I spent ages tracking this movie down because it wasn't available on DVD yet. I saw this on a late night horror channel and loved almost every minute of it.
Any movie with Bruce Campbell in it is [almost] always a hit. For whatever reason, a lot of people don't know about this wonderfully cheesey movie. Vampires who wear sunscreen and Bruce Campbell playing Van Helsing.
A must have for any Bruce Campbell lover.
on December 26, 2011
"Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat", one of the latter productions from the soon to be defunct Vestron Pictures, suffered from lackluster distribution and a video tape release that did it no favours by diminishing the impact of the widescreen compositions. As a result, it never quite got its due as one of the more imaginitive variations on vampire lore. Director Anthony Hickox, who re-worked the original script with its author, John Burgess, opts to shoot *everything* like a Western, and the late, great Richard Stone, who'd also done great work for "Pumpkinhead" gives it a lush, rousing score. It's never exactly scary, but that's entirely the point, as this was meant, from the get go, to put a comedic spin on everything. As such, it's often very funny, and an amazing cast full of familiar faces plays the material for all it's worth: David Carradine, Morgan Brittany, Bruce Campbell, Deborah Foreman, Jim Metzler, M. Emmet Walsh, John Ireland, Maxwell Caulfield, George "Buck" Flower, and Dabbs Greer are just some of them. Campbell in particular is hilarious as the bumbling descendant of the original Van Helsing, as always willing to do anything for a laugh. Lionsgate does a great job with the DVD release, finally letting us see it in all its 2.35:1 glory, in a very nice looking print. The commentary with Hickox (son of the great director Douglas Hickox ("Theater of Blood"), to whom this film is dedicated) and cinematographer Levie Isaacks, moderated by Michael Felsher, is a delight to listen to, as Hickox and Isaacks clearly look back on the production with fondness and are full of information and insight. As well as a six minute plus still gallery, there are three wonderful interview featurettes, with Carradine, Campbell, and Walsh, all well worth checking out, with Campbell naturally sharing some of the funniest anecdotes. But just the fact that there's an interview with Walsh here is reason enough to check out this release. Fans of B movies are certainly to delight in this picture and to appreciate having it on DVD.
on September 9, 2009
I feel privileged to have been asked to write a review for Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat. I've never written a review before, but feel compelled to do so for this movie. I generally don't buy movies with vampires - it's just not my thing. What drew me to this movie, in all honestly, was Dabbs Greer, who plays a vampire named Otto Trotsberg. Its been a goal of mine to collected Dabbs' movies.
However, that being said, this movie has a lot of other things going for it. Vampires seem to be the in thing, so it's timely that I have watched this hidden gem, which was made in 1990. The movie stars Bruce Campbell and David Carradine. Carradine's character, Count Margulak, is the head honcho of the desert town of Purgatory, where a small but gentle group of vampires want to "live" in peace, so to say. These vampires have gone so far as to make a factory that produces synthetic blood - a vile thing to the rebel Shane (John Ireland) who has amassed a group of vampires who have a thirst for real blood and they want the "right to bite". This is where the movie takes off, as the two side clash in an old fashion western-style with lots of great shoot outs.
Bruce Campbell's character, Robert Van Helsing, is an outsider who inadvertently becomes a vampire and sides with Count Margulak, and brings some funny moments to the screen.
The special effects are fun, especially when the vampires turn into bats to make hasty retreats.
This movie is quirky, entertaining, weird, and charismatic, all framed in a western appeal with plenty of action. It is an enjoyable movie from the get go. I give Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat eight fangs out of ten!