by Jason Coffman
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Horror fans, allow me to put a question to you: If you see that Stephen Geoffreys is in a movie, and you know there is another character in the same movie named “Brewster,” you are automatically going to draw certain conclusions, correct? But imagine for a moment that you are wrong, and that in fact your conclusions are utterly confounded. Can you imagine how this would be a pleasant surprise? How great it would be that your expectations could be confounded? Sure, fans of “Fright Night” love Stephen Geoffreys and are glad to see him in a film in 2011. And sure, some of those fans would probably be disappointed if they didn’t hear a certain famous tagline. Those fans will not be disappointed with his appearance in Bite Marks, but anyone looking for a film that confounds expectations likely will be.
Before the opening credits roll, Walsh (Stephen Geoffreys) is attacked in the darkness by some thing hidden from the audience. He’s a truck driver, and when he doesn’t show up for his shift, his boss calls Walsh’s brother Brewster (Benjamin Lutz) to cover for him. Perfect timing, as it allows Brewster to avoid questions about his recent trouble in the bedroom with Walsh’s wife. Brewster sets out for Kansas and picks up a pair of hitchhikers the next morning, not realizing that they’re a gay couple backpacking across the country together. Cary (Windham Beacham) and Vogel (David Alanson) are very different: Cary is sensitive and responsible, while Vogel is impetuous and sarcastic. Vogel also has a very active libido, and when Brewster catches Vogel and Cary having sex in the bathroom of a truck stop restaurant, Brewster begins to wonder if there’s not something more to his recent lack of interest in sex with his brother’s wife.
He soon has bigger problems on his hand when he narrowly avoids a wreck in the middle of nowhere and the three men find themselves stranded in a junkyard waiting for a mechanic. While they wait, they learn about an even more pressing issue: Brewster is transporting five coffins, each one apparently packing a ravenous vampire. Soon Brewster, Cary and Vogel find themselves barricaded in the cab of Brewster’s truck with pages of a Bible pasted over every inch of the windows to hopefully keep the vampires out. When the mechanic arrives, they learn they’re dealing with a very different breed of vampires than they’re used to seeing in the movies, and that the familiar rules don’t exactly apply.
Bite Marks is competent enough, and the cast is mostly pretty good, but it certainly has some problems. Cary and Vogel suddenly start spouting horror nerd dialogue when the vampire attack starts, although there’s nothing to suggest that they have any interest in horror movies up until that point. The meta humor feels somewhat out of place in a film that has played its story relatively straight up until that point. Still, there’s definitely some funny stuff here, including Vogel’s fistfight with a vampire using some interesting improvised boxing gloves, and most of the gore and makeup effects are effective. Bite Marks has some intriguing ideas about its vampire villains, but unfortunately not enough of that inventiveness carried over into the plot, which is just a little too familiar. Bite Marks is certainly fun, and it’s always good to see Stephen Geoffreys, but horror fans will probably be left wanting a bit more than the film delivers.
Breaking Glass Pictures and Vicious Circle Films released Bite Marks on DVD on 15 November 2011. Special features include two audio commentaries with the director and cast, interviews with the film’s stars, a gag reel, photo gallery and a “behind the scenes” featurette.
Jason Coffman is a film writer living in Chicago. He writes reviews for Film Monthly and “The Crown International Files” for Criticplanet.org as well as contributing to Fine Print Magazine (www.fineprintmag.net).
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