Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat (1989, Anthony Hickox)

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An occasional series where I write about works inspired by Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula…

These reviews reveal plot twists.

Setting: The modern day. In Purgatory, a town in western America.

Faithful to the novel? A group of vampires have taken over a town in the American West, wanting to live peacefully and using artificial blood to survive. Sunscreen and sunglasses mean they can just about cope out in the daylight. David Harrison (Jim Metzler), his wife and two daughters arrive for a family trip. He helped develop the blood-synthesising process, but doesn’t know what it’s now used for. Also new in town is Robert Van Helsing (Bruce Campbell), who is the great-grandson of the character from Stoker’s book. He’s on the trail of Count Mardulak (David Carradine), the town’s vampire elder. Mardulak is actually Count Dracula – but in a neat twist, he’s essentially gone straight. However, a rival faction of vamps are planning a coup…

Best performance: Bruce Campbell is hamming it up entertainingly as the bumbling Van Helsing.

Best bit: Van Helsing is about to kiss a local waitress (Deborah Foreman), when he spots that she has no reflection in a nearby car’s hubcap.

Review: A B-movie with a sense of humour, this is fun stuff. It’s still creepy, though, with a kooky vibe that satirises the darkness behind an all-American veneer. Although set in the modern day, there’s also a Western theme going on, which is evident in costuming, shot choices and incidental music.

Seven cheeseburgers out of 10

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