There is a place called Development Hell and great films have lingered in its depths. Some have been saved, like Watchmen (ok, that one’s debatable), others are irrevocably altered – imagine Hancock as a psychological thriller. However, quite often, there are those that are there simply because they’re shit. Director Phil Claydon was the rescuer for one film that had spent several years flambéing in the pits of Development Hell, presumably because he thought a film about lesbian vampires was going to be a winner. Maybe he saw something in the script that others hadn’t. Irony, perhaps.
Matthew Horne and James Corden. Horne and Corden. Get used to those names because unless they somehow loose their appeal, they’re going to be around for a while. High on their success from the truly excellent comedy series (co-penned by Corden), Gavin and Stacey, the pair’s sketch show has just had its first airing and now their first film has been released. And it’s Lesbian Vampire Killers. Could this film be the next Sean of the Dead? Or is it more in the realms of Alien Autopsy, had Ant and Dec put more emphasis on the anal examinations?
The film does at least pay homage to a plot; at a generic point in the Middle Ages, a lesbian vampire queen, Camilla, is killed for preying on a small village in East Anglia. Before she dies she curses the village so that all its female inhabitants will become, darn it, lesbian vampires when they turn 18. Vampires fuelled, as the film says, by a hatred of men and a love of women.
Years later, the descendent of the guy who topped her, Jimmy (Horne), is dumped by his girlfriend so he and his best friend, failed clown Fletch (Corden), go hiking and end up in the village along with a group of hot girls with low standards. It’s not too long before the girls are shedding their clothes and stalking the night in search of blood and girl-on-girl action. Queue plenty of slow motion arse shots, mandatory shower scenes and the kind of nob gags best left in the sweaty hands of 15-year-old boys.
The resumes of writers Paul Hupfield and Stewart Williams both include Channel 4 cock-fest Balls of Steel, so with their allegedly title-first, script later approach to film making, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the duo created a film called Lesbian Vampire Killers. It is intended to be a tribute to the cheap production values of the traditional Hammer Horror films, with its tongue-in-cheek title sequence and cartoonish gore. But, as buxom sage Dolly Parton once said, it took a lot of money to look that cheap.
Still, it could be argued that the women depicted are strong female characters. Each one is in a position of power over the boys; they dump them, fire them, and try to eat them alive. But that would also be like saying that porn remake Muffy the Vampire Slayer is a postmodern, feminist take on the authority of women, demonstrating role reversal through the phallic symbol of the stake.
With the film appearing like the live action version of Nuts magazine, what’s in it for non-subscribers? Horne and Corden, of course. Or, more specifically, just Corden.
The pair have perfected their buddy-movie vernacular, so it’s always entertaining when they’re sharing screen time. But, as he’s lumped with playing the straight man again, Horne often fades into the background, so it’s up to Corden to provide the laughs. Corden is stuck with some clangers (“Bottoms up, cocks in!” being only one of many), but his naturalistic, everyman delivery is genuinely funny. “Is there any chance we could just ignore it?” he pleas at one point when faced with an unexplained bump in the night. If there is any genuine irony in this film, it’s in James Corden, ambling his stocky hide through the lesbian filled woods as the only one who can see the funny side.
With a name like Lesbian Vampire Killers, this is a film that is self-consciously ridiculous. Take it too seriously at your peril. Sean of the Dead it isn’t, but view it for what it is, a daft, fun comedy with the occasional dirty laugh for fans of a bit of splat and tickle, and you might actually enjoy it. Just leave your moral outrage at the door.
Lesbian Vampire Killers (15) is on general release now.