Sean Gallimore claims to have spent no more than $5,000 on Vampire Hunter, a film shot on video in 1995, copyrighted 1997 but listed as a 2004 film in many reference sources and on the recent Blood Suckers video collection from Mill Creek Entertainment. I found Blood Suckers in the checkout aisle of a Borders bookstore a few months back and bought it cheap, thinking to myself, "Now I can hold up my end of the Wendigo series for the next few months." But after previewing some of the films I was reluctant to show any of them to Wendigo. These are micro-budgeted movies, most if not all shot on video, and the production values are amateurish. At first glance, Vampire Hunter is no exception. Gallimore is a former Disney animator as well as a martial artist. Vampire Hunter reflects his martial-arts influences more than his Magic Kingdom influences. It opens most unpromisingly with a fight in an art gallery between a hero and two vampires, a beefy dude we'll later know as Morgan Bane (Leonardo Millan) and his hair-band type minion. The hero puts up a valiant fight to save his girlfriend, but Bane seems unbeatable. Triumphant, he grouses, "Immortality sucks!" It sucks because he hasn't faced a worthy adversary in centuries, but you're supposed to assume that that's about to change.
John: One warning: stop following me.
Ramone: You're in danger. Your wife is in danger.
John: Oh, really? From who?
Ramone: You know who....Bane. He's got eyes for your wife, which means you're dead unless you learn to protect yourself.
John: I can take care of myself.
Ramone: I know, remember?...He's a vampire. He had eyes for my wife and she's dead now. He tried to kill me but I know how to fight them, but they're so many and I need help.
John: Stay away from me and my wife. I'm worse than any vampire.
Don't worry, folks. John will come around. One of the aspects of this movie that resembles a character arc is our hero's gradual spiritual awakening. While Ramone is so spiritual that he can draw a cross on his hand and gain power from it, John can put a crucifix in Bane's hand with no effect. As Bane plays with the object, we learn that O'Ryan's an atheist, and infer that the traditional holy symbols won't have their traditional effect when wielded by an unbeliever.
Shouldn't the film be called Vampire Hunters? Sean Gallimore (left) and Frank Suarez (right) make two of a kind.
Honorable warrior John O'Ryan opens his duel with a vampirized martial-arts master by throwing garlic powder in his foe's face. Below, the fight finishes the way it started.
On the other hand, Wendigo found Vampire Hunter charming in a pathetic way -- the way of a mewling kitten found out on the street in the rain. He can't say there was anything good about the film, but he feels that he saw Gallimore trying his best, and like a lot of us, when he sees that starts to root for the filmmaker a little. While Gallimore went overboard reaching for effects a bit, Wendigo felt that the story itself, the master vampire's relatively unambitous scheming, was on a level that suited the budget. If we have an "urban fantasy" genre today, then Vampire Hunter may be a Skid Row fantasy, but there's nothing necessary wrong with that. Gallimore doesn't really make any original contribution to the vampire genre, but Wendigo can't help but say, "Bravo!" to anyone who can put a feature film together on such limited resources. We might not be able to account for every penny of that $5,000, but every bit of the enthusiasm that put it all together is on screen. Wendigo can't recommend it to anyone, but he thinks it could be a fun film to watch with like-minded friends. If your mind is like ours, you might find it worth that fraction of $4.99 that it cost me.
Gallimore has posted a trailer for Vampire Hunter on YouTube under his Wassabe23 tag, but doesn't allow enabling. To take a look at it, follow this link.