DVD REVIEW: DAMN SEA VAMPIRES / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: DON E. FAUNTLEROY / SCREENPLAY: BROOK DURHAM / STARRING: CASSIE SCERBO, BRANDON BEEMER, JONATHAN LIPNICKI, JACQUELINE FLEMING / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
When two architects of low-budget monster movies unite in search of Sharknado-esque fame and fortune, the results are usually disappointing. The pursuit of the elusive so-bad-it’s-good cinematic loophole that leads to success and cult notoriety is a troubled one, so it is hardly surprising that Damn Sea Vampires from Active Entertainment and Syfy is so bad, it’s just, well...bad.
As the confused story of not-so-deep sea dredging and the search for gold unfolds, Donna (Scerbo) seeks to honour her father’s memory by completing his final job with the help of her irritating brother Joe (Lipnicki; yes, that kid from Jerry Maguire) and brooding stranger with a heart, Owen (Beemer). Perhaps intended as a weak environmental message or maybe as it was the next thing out of the random monster generator (they must have one!), their mission is thwarted by the arrival of huge underwater bloodsuckers, strange beings resembling giant stingrays dressed up as Batman - if Batman wore a suit fashioned from bin liners, that is. Can they defeat these nautical nasties and find the gold? Who cares?!
The issue is that deep down Damn Sea Vampires is a film with a darkly cynical soul. There is absolutely no way anyone with an inkling of creative pride could have signed-off on the monsters themselves; they are the worst CGI you will possibly ever see and are so comical as to not be funny at all. The acting is worryingly woeful, with repetitive dialogue that smacks of additional lines having been added in post-production in an attempt to make the dreary script more acceptable. And as for the direction, it is best summed up by the realisation that one shot appears at least three times!
This all leaves you wondering what everyone involved were thinking. If this is now what some filmmakers consider acceptable for release then we are in a very dark place cinematically. There always has and always will be a production line of these low cost creature-features but there has to be a basic standard, an understanding that some level of competence must be demonstrated. The serious point here is that it feels like the audience is being taken for a ride, that producers believe there will always be genre fans that will pay for and put up with anything. This is as alarmingly misanthropic as it is deeply offensive.
Whether or not the conveyor belt in the monster B-movie factory will begin to slow is hard to say. One thing is certain though, if the most appalling production standards continue to be accepted then films as bad as Damn Sea Vampires will continue to be produced, and that surely cannot be a good thing.
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