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December 7, 2012

Movie Review: Bonnie and Clyde vs. Dracula (2008)

Silly title? Maybe, but this little gem balances camp and serious intentions fairly deftly, and mixes it all up with some visual style, effective period detail and a jaunty pace. Oh, and the acting is pretty good, too. It's the kind of thing you used to see all the time, often produced by Roger Corman, in the 60s and 70s: minor but engrossing genre films made by talented young directors eager to make their mark. The kind of thing you don't see too often anymore.

Buy Bonnie and Clyde vs. Dracula on DVD

The story doesn't waste much time with explanations and elaborate set ups. It simply follows two parallel plots which come together in the third act. Both story lines revel in genre cliches, and yet are full of surprises and are never boring.

The Bonnie and Clyde story is violent and funny, and, as played by Tiffany Shepis and Trent Haaga, is intensely watchable. Bonnie is a psychotic sociopath, ferociously devoted to her man. Clyde, a pretty cold character himself, at least realizes the impact of the choices he has made and is leery of crossing a line into utter depravity. Down on their luck and on the run, they become involved in a small-time heist involving moonshiners and the "city people" they sell to. It all goes sour of course, leading them to a farmhouse where a doctor lives.

This doctor, though, is not normal. He is hideously disfigured, forcing him to constantly wear a bag over his head with a single eye-hole cut in it. He keeps his beautiful but slow witted sister Annabell as a virtual slave via the implementation of an electrical collar with which he can zap her if she gets out of line. And he is also harboring a vampire. How he came across the recently resurrected Dracula is never explained, and why waste time with such trivialities anyway?

What ensues is a minor but compelling examination of innocence and corruption. Innocence is represented by the endearing and enduring Annabell. And corruption is represented by... well, pretty much everyone else in the movie. Only Clyde and Dracula, surprisingly, recognize the difference, and are mirrors of each other in the structure of this creepy tale.

I'm probably giving this movie a better review than it deserves. But is was just so refreshing to see an old-school monster mash-up movie that was well-made and didn't revel in excesses for their own sake. It just warmed my jaded old genre-loving heart.

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