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Vampire Wars (2005)
Writer and director: Matthew Hastings

review by Jeff Young

Despite its absurdly overblown title, Matthew Hastings' sci-fi horror flick Vampire Wars: Battle For the Universe (aka: Bloodsuckers) is basically a likeable B-movie cross between the space opera of Battle Beyond The Stars (1980), and the gory hunting-party antics of John Carpenter's Vampires. The cult-worthy materials are hardly original, but writer-director Hastings offers a refreshingly unpretentious take on the subject, which almost works perfectly and - overall - it's only some OTT acting that undermines the balance of character-based dramas and straightforward adventure.

Set in 2210, the film concerns an interplanetary V-San 'vampire sanitation' squad, led by Churchill (Joe Lando, former Hollywood cook turned TV heartthrob on Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman, 1993-7), whose ill-advised battle tactics, during the team's raid on vampire hordes that have literally consumed a human colony, results in his apparent death, at the fangs and claws of some particularly nasty flesh-rippers. Second officer Damian (Dominic Zamprogna) unhappily assumes military command of the starship Heironymous, much to the displeasure and frustration of its mismatched crew: archetypal space cowboy Gilles (muscular Michael DeLuise), spiky commando babe Rosa (genre TV starlet Leanne Adachi), and glamorous vampire scout - with a talent for psychic sex, Quintana (half Norwegian, half Filipino, Natassia Malthe, who played evil Typhoid in Elektra, and reluctant heroine Ayane in DOA: Dead Or Alive).

The plotting becomes a bit hazy after the initial action scenes but, soon enough, our bickering V-San mercenaries put their differences aside when human scientist, Fiona (A.J. Cook, from Tru Calling and Final Destination 2), who plans to broker a fragile truce with the galaxy's vampire breed, contacts them and asks for help. As 'campire' leader Muco, Michael Ironside more-or-less reprises his star turn as equally campy arch-villain Overdog from Spacehunter: Adventures In The Forbidden Zone (1983), simply trading 1980s' cyber-mutant prosthetics for 21st century scary scar makeup.

Although laughably inept in terms of its histrionic speeches, expository monologues, and downright cheesy splatter effects work, Vampire Wars delivers the goodies that every keen fan of genre schlock demands, with plenty of macho gun-toting shtick and aerobatic kung fu routines, to enrich the obvious borrowings from the likes of Aliens, Blake's 7, Mad Max, Pitch Black, and even Star Wars, of course.
Vampire Wars

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