Tony Mandile's dull vampire jamboree will disappoint even die-hard fans of the living dead. An epidemic grips the United States, turning ordinary citizens into undead blood drinkers, and neither the government nor the Centers for Disease Control can halt its progress. Street-smart atheist Gwen Waters (Pamela Karp) makes her way through New Jersey to visit Father Joe Cahill (Douglas Gibson), while less savvy travelers fall victim to the Vichy, roving bands of healthy opportunists who hunt down fresh food for their vampire masters. Only after Vichy hunters have proved themselves to first-generation vampires like Father Palmeri (Marvin W. Schwartz) do the original bloodsuckers initiate them into the ranks of the undead. Gwen beseeches the alcoholic Father Cahill to stop guzzling communion wine and help her fight the creatures. In between debating questions of faith and dogma, Gwen and Father Cahill ward off a vampire attack and take refuge at the headquarters of profiteer Finnegan (Tony Mandile). As infected souls besiege Finnegan's stronghold, Gwen and Father Cahill join forces with father-daughter vampire slayers Carl Edwards (Dave Dwyer) and teenaged Mickey (Mariana Matthews). They beseech Father Cahill to wield his faith as a weapon, and Gwen finds herself questioning her longstanding lack of belief. Deprived of easy victims, Father Cahill's nemesis, Father Palmeri, and his cohorts step up their attacks while the townspeople cower. In a nod to HIGH NOON (1952), Father Cahill must inspire them to take a last stand against Palmeri's bloody clan. Though veteran horror writer F. Paul Wilson's decision to make a defrocked priest and a atheist the hero and heroine of this horror tale is interesting, Karp and Gibson fail to make their characters into compelling protagonists. And though Wilson's interest in larger issues of faith and redemption is ambitious, Mandile never figures out a way to weave it seamlessly into the story: With Armageddon at hand, Gwen and Cahill waste their energy in a series of Christian coffee shop debates. It's hard not to root for the bloodthirsty ghouls.
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- Released: 2003
- Rating: R
- Review: Tony Mandile's dull vampire jamboree will disappoint even die-hard fans of the living dead. An epidemic grips the United States, turning ordinary citizens into undead blood drinkers, and neither the government nor the Centers for Disease Control can halt i… (more)