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Sunday, March 13, 2011

BONNIE & CLYDE VS. DRACULA -- DVD review by porfle

It's fun to see filmmakers take a low budget, apply hefty amounts of talent and imagination, and totally ace it.  It's also fun to see a movie called BONNIE & CLYDE VS. DRACULA (2009) in which the infamous outlaws actually do go up against the King of the Undead.  And it certainly doesn't hurt if Tiffany Shepis gives a stunning performance as Bonnie and happens to get nekkid along the way, too.

The film opens with Bonnie Parker (Shepis) and Clyde Barrow (Trent Haaga, who wrote the incredible DEADGIRL) driving the backroads of the deep South, looking for a place to hide out.  Meeting up with old crony Henry (F. Martin Glynn) at a roadside whorehouse run by crotchety old Jake (T. Max Graham), they embark on a scheme to make fast money by swindling some moonshiners.  Bullets fly and a doctor's aid is needed, so Bonnie is sent to the spooky mansion of Dr. Loveless (Allen Lowman), who, as it turns out, is harboring none other than Count Dracula himself. 

Writer-director Timothy Friend doesn't use this outrageous subject matter as an excuse to make a stupid movie.  Indeed, much of BONNIE & CLYDE VS. DRACULA could be a pretty nifty low-rent gangster flick on its own if not for the horrific cutaways to Loveless' mansion along the way.  When the outlaw pair finally do meet the ghouls, we get to see them react in realistic style (shock and outrage, followed by lots and lots of bullets) with the humor coming mostly from the incongruity of the situation.  Russell Friend's impressive-looking Dracula also strikes a good balance between dry wit and genuine supernatural menace, as do his hordes of fanged, blood-craving minions.

Thanks to Friend's deft direction and some superior cinematography, the film looks great.  Artistic lighting and rich colors combine with good costuming and sets to give everything an authentic period feel.  Some shots, in fact, have a pictorial splendor that is suitable for framing.  The synthesizer score by Joseph Allen enhances the off-kilter aura of the story nicely.

Trent Haaga makes a fine Clyde, alternately goodnatured and ruthless, but Shepis steals the show as a sassy, sexy, and bloodthirsty Bonnie.  Her performance is stellar and she milks every line of tough-gal dialogue for all it's worth--I don't think Warren Beatty could've handled her.  She's a joy to look at too, as when she gets the last word in an argument with Clyde simply by standing up in the bathtub.  (I found myself speechless as well.)  In addition to pulling off a more than passable Southern accent, Shepis also handles a Tommy gun or pump shotgun with gleeful abandon and don't take no guff from nobody, alive or undead.

Another standout in the cast is co-producer Jennifer Friend (writer-producer of CADAVERELLA) as Dr. Loveless' simpleminded sister, Annabel.  With an electric restraint collar locked around her neck, the childlike Annabel is forced to help Dr. Loveless in his dastardly scientific endeavors although she'd rather dance and sing and play her harmonica, and put on "The Annabel Show" in her bedroom.  Well, I just fell in love with her and think she's adorable.  I could watch "The Annabel Show" anytime.  Her final scenes during the gangsters vs. vampires melee raise the film to a totally unexpected level that had me glowing with admiration for both the actress and the filmmakers.

The DVD from Indican Pictures is in 2.35:1 widescreen with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.  No subtitles.  The screener I reviewed didn't have extras, but the DVD should include two trailers, a behind-the-scenes featurette, "Loveless Viral Video", and a cast-and-crew commentary track.

Hardly the intentionally-bad, "it sucks, so it's fun" type of yuckfest the title suggests, BONNIE & CLYDE VS. DRACULA distills solid acting, a sharp screenplay, hardboiled action, Gothic horror, and a delightfully wicked sense of humor into something that adventurous genre fans should lap up like moonshine out of a Mason jar. 

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