This no-budgeter from 2001 shows how far a completely outrageous premise can take a film. As the title suggests, it’s pretty ludicrous, and not a little rough around the edges. Still, I find this film extremely difficult not to like—it is certainly the finest Jesus-Christ-battles-vampires horror/comedy/musical from Ottawa, Canada ever made.
Who’s responsible for this crazy flick? Some nutty Canadians who were essentially making a feature length installment of their HAIRY KNUCKLES series of kung fu movie parodies (no, I haven’t seen any of them, although a lengthy trailer for one is included on the JESUS CHRIST VAMPIRE HUNTER DVD). The title was apparently conceived first, with the idea that a name like, say, JESUS CHRIST VAMPIRE HUNTER would entice viewers (in this case they were right). It stars Phil Caracas, Harry Knuckles himself, as Jesus Christ, and it’s a safe bet that much of the kung fu stunt work (among the most inept you’ll ever see) was copied from the earlier films. Also notable is the extremely catchy theme song (“He came from Heaven/two stakes in his hand/to slay the vampires/and free the land!”).
For those of you who don’t know, Jesus Christ, who should need no introduction, isn’t this film’s only icon: the masked wrestler El Santo, a facsimile of whom shows up in the third act, was a heavyset Mexican wrestling superstar who made over 100 films in his native land. Mexican wrestlers don’t take off their masks in public unless they lose a fight; since El Santo never lost, he never removed his mask and, upon his death in the eighties, was buried wearing it. This film, needless to say, pretty much ignores the reality of Santo’s passing, and the fact that he didn’t speak English!
Jesus Christ is in the midst of his Second Coming, but finds himself in a life-or-death battle with a band of lesbian vampires bent on taking over the world! After kicking lots of ass on a beach, J.C. enters the city of Ottawa for a goofy musical number together with a dozen or so adherents and then takes up with a cute biker chick who gets him a “hip” wardrobe, a butch haircut and ear piercing. Unfortunately, the girl is vampirized in a subsequent vampire mash.
Despondent, J.C. is contacted by the Big G through a bowl of talking cherries (“Oh it’s you, Dad!”), resulting in a trip to Mexico to enlist the help of the masked wrestler El Santo. Together they take on the vampire army with renewed vigor, finally conquering their foes in a massive (sort of) junkyard brawl.
The budget was evidently REALLY low and the story too-often revels in forced outrageousness (a newspaper headline in one scene reads “NCC REPORTS CRITICAL LESBIAN SHORTAGE”), but what director Lee Gordon Demarbre has on his side is a great deal of energy. Even when the script flags, the film is fast moving, inventive and always watchable. Demarbre also has fun with his low budget, inserting hilariously cheesy stop motion and puppetry FX work where appropriate, and much copious gore (from the DVD box: “The Power of Christ Impales You!”).
The washed out film stock often looks like somebody wiped their ass with it (which, in Demarbre’s defense, does give it something of the feel of a seventies exploitation picture, which is most likely what he was trying for) and the sound rarely ever seems in sync with the action. As the filmmakers repeatedly boast on the commentary track, booze was clearly an extremely copious commodity on this set!
JESUS CHRIST VAMPIRE HUNTER
Odessa Film Works, Inc.
Director/Cinematographer/Editor: Lee Gordon Demarbre
Producer/Screenwriter: Ian Driscoll
Cast: Phil Caracas, Murielle Varhelyi, Maria Moulton, Ian Driscoll, Josh Grace, Tim Devries, Jeff Moffet