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Slayer

Directed by Kevin VanHook

Written by Kevin VanHook

Starring Casper Van Dien, Kevin Grievoux, Jennifer O’Dell, Alexis Cruz

Produced by Kevin VanHook

Not Rated

87 minutes

**

Kevin VanHook brings us another shockingly derivative work done with at least some style in “Slayer” a SciFi Channel Original Picture that really isn’t all that original.

And with this Sci-Fi Not So Original Picture, we get a bunch of commandos down in South American jungle for no clear reason (something about rebels is mentioned in passing) that get attacked by vampires. The United States Government, of course, isn’t about to admit that there’s a bunch of pre-Incan vampires roaming South America—remember how much flack they took over “Ketchup is a vegetable”? So, they’re just going to write the whole thing off as a “local tribal anomaly.” And they’re going to send the leader of the commando team back into said jungle to retrieve his scientist ex-wife. Oh, and probably have to kill his best friend, who was also on that commando team, and now may be the ruler of the local tribal anomaly, because wouldn’t that just suck if he got back to the States and went on a book signing tour proving conclusively that the United States Government was capable of lying about something?

That just can’t be!

But anyway, I seem to remember this being a movie on the Sci-Fi channel long before it actually hit video stores, so pardon me if I’m a smidge nonplussed before we even get this candle lit. The back of the box confirms my shattered memories—this is in fact a SciFi Original—which basically means welcome to the craps table, boys…purely random action. It might be good, but then, it might totally suck. And no, that’s not a pun. Why does everyone think I’m trying to be funny when I say most vampire movies just plain suck?

Don’t believe me? Here’s a quick summary of what Kevin VanHook’s trying to foist on us now: Johnny Rico from “Starship Troopers” going into the jungle to kill some guy from “Underworld,” who’s leading an attack squadron of vampires about to invade America. Oh, and Johnny’s also got to rescue the hot chick from “The Lost World”. Though I’m being facetious, the actors’ best-known roles are quite accurate—the back of the box agrees with me in most cases—so it’s pretty safe to say, hellooooo dumping ground!

Never mind that VanHook uses wire-fu like no tomorrow. Never mind that his script and choice of actors is about as bereft of originality as a desert is of water—it’s freaking “Predator,” for crying out loud! He just replaced extraterrestrial hunters with vampires!

Never mind any of that. It may not be long on originality, but one thing you can say for VanHook’s work is that it certainly is not dull. Nope, there’s more than enough action going on around here for two movies. Lots of fighting, lots of gunplay, lots of vampires getting staked. No, this will not be boring, just wildly unoriginal. Though for some, that may make it boring enough.

The ending is much like the rest of the movie—packed with action, yet not featuring a whole lot beyond what you’d expect from it. But there are a couple handy plot twists at the end that help to redeem it from total mediocrity.

The special features include a commentary track, photo gallery, a copy of the screenplay for those of you with DVD-ROMs, and trailers for “Masters of Horror,” “Voodoo Moon,” “The Fallen Ones,” “Room 6,” and “Hellboy: Sword of Storms.”

All in all, Kevin VanHook’s latest effort is much like his earlier efforts: fair, with plenty of action, but not a whole lot of uniqueness to distinguish them from the pack.

Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.


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