Monday, June 25, 2012

'Decadent Evil II' improves on the original

Decadent Evil II (2007)
Starring: Jill Michelle, Daniel Lennox, John-Paul Gates, Jessica Morris, Ricardo Gil, Mike Muscat, James C. Burns, and Rory Williamson
Director: Charles Band
Producers: Dana K. Harloe, Bill Barton, and Joe Megna
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

Kindhearted vampire Sugar (Michelle) and her would-be paramour Dex (Lennox) follow the trail of a master vampire to Little Rock, Arkansas, hoping to obtain the means to restore their deceased, vampire-hunting friend Ivan (Gil) to life. But identifying the master vampire turns out to be harder than they had imagined, and soon the hunters become the hunted.

Daniel Lennox and Jill Michelle reprise their roles from the original film

"Decadent Evil II" is an improvement over the original film in the series in several areas, but it is still a weak effort and a far cry from what we all know Charles Band is capable of delivering.

Like the first film, this one is a cheap and sleazy effort--more sleazy than actually decadent... and even more sleazy than the original because from the "gentleman's club" where most of the action takes place to the motel where the main characters are holed up, to the junkyard where the final confrontation takes place, the film has a rundown, cheap feel to it. Decadence is still somewhat in short supply, but there more evil present than in the previous film.

There's also a better script, with some nicely sinister bad guys and enough of them and nicely done misdirections that it's not completely obvious who the vampire lord is before the Big Reveal near the end. (That said, it turned out to be the character I thought the most probable, but dismissed because the script was by August White who has turned out some real dogs over the years. Turns out, though, that I for once was assuming sloppy randomness where some thought and honest-to-God plot was on display.)

The stronger script also results in some actual moments of horror in this film, and a general atmosphere of dread that permeates everything once the film gets going. If not for an ending that is somewhat botched story-wise, atrociously edited, and just all-around badly staged from an action point of view, this could well have earned a low Five rating instead of the Four it's getting.

The actors are all decent in their parts, even if Daniel Lennox reminds me of the bland leading men from the 1930s B-pictures I review over at Shades of Gray. Jill Michelle did a better job at playing the lead than I figured she would have based her performance in the first film, but Jessica Morris still out-shined her in the few scenes they have together; Michelle may be pretty but she doesn't have much of a screen presence. The cast and the film in general did benefit from the fact that all the characters have at least one moment of importance as the story unfolds. Even Marvin the Humonculous, who in the original was just the obligatory Band Puppet/possible toy fodder without any real purpose beyond that, serves a key role in the story. (The downside here is that he hasn't improved much as a puppet.)

This film is still a far cry from some of the great flicks during the 1990s, but if you're a fan of Charles Band, and if the preview embedded below looks at all appealing, I think you'll find the film entertaining enough, despite its terrible ending.

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