Wednesday, April 29, 2020

57) Vampire Burt's Serenade (2020) - EXCLUSIVE REVIEW

Humans have it bad...monsters have it worse!

Director
Ken Roht

Cast
Kevin Scott Richardson - Vampire Burt
Diva Zappa - Connie
Brian Gaskill - Sid
Brandon Heitkamp - Todd
Brooke Baldwin - Sally Satchel
Sharon Ferguson - Clare Dare Human

The upcoming independent movie Vampire Burt's Serenade considers itself a "naughty vampire musical" - a raucous, raunchy, bloody thriller with a touch of camp.
This movie, scheduled for digital release May 8 on Amazon Pay and Amazon Prime, certainly doesn't disappoint.
There's raunch - lots of raunch. There's squirting, splattering blood. There's rock  music...tons of it. And buried underneath squirming its way to the surface is the campiness.
In this story, Burt (Kevin Scott Richardson) is well known among all the clubbers at the Bootleg Rock and Strip Club.
Though he's a creature of darkness working his evil charm in the night, he doesn't hide behind the shadows. He'll take his victims in the middle of a crowd. So much so that it's commonplace.
Burt bites the neck of his friend Todd (Brandon Heitkamp) who just didn't want to be a vampire. But now he is.
Regardless, they enter the club to see Todd's girlfriend, Connie (Diva Zappa). In the middle of her performance, she realizes Todd is a vampire and curses Burt out while having patrons start turning into a raging mob chanting to kill the vampire.
As the club's owner, Sid (Brian Gaskill) comes out to settling things down, Burt ends up biting him in front of strippers and patrons.
It turns out Sid doesn't survive the attack, and the strippers vow revenge to kill the vampire.
Meanwhile, Burt bites Connie who is much more appreciative in being undead and goes on a killing spree. But through typical vampire circumstances, she ends up becoming a little more than just a vampire.
The strippers collectively agree to hire a vampire hunter (Kenneth Hughes) to take on Burt. He requires $10,000 to do the job. The strippers hold a "strip-off" to raise the money to kill Sid's killer.
Meanwhile, Burt visits homicidal artist Clare Dare Human (Sharon Ferguson) who's also his drug hookup.
Human brings in some kidnapped virgins, lethargic on drugs, for Burt to feed on while he's saturated in a variety of exquisite cocaines.
Their plan is to kill Burt will he's high, sluggish, and fed. It's a creative plot with a satisfying ending to such a multi-genre horror movie. 
While all the promised elements are there, the campiness reminds me of that from What We Do in the Shadows (2014). The camp and comedy flows naturally with the story's circumstances.
Kevin Richardson as Burt.
Vampire Burt's Serenade respects the classic vampire tropes as it places them in modern society. This makes the entire lore appreciated in a different way.
The humor is the perfect touch above all. The movie doesn't stretch the humor nor force it on the audience. It doesn't need to. The comedy fits right in as though it belongs there.
What does feel forced is the singing. I know it's a musical, and its being a musical isn't a problem. I counted 30 songs in this approximately one hour and 15 minute story. At times, they felt like filler and some of the singing became distracting while slowing the pace down. As Burt tells Connie in the beginning of the movie as she adjusts to being a vampire and starts indulging in neck biting, "too much is too much."
Still, other songs are hilarious and fun in their perfectly awkward placement. For instance, as chemistry rises between Todd and Clare Dare Human's young female assistant, they sneak into a dirty bathroom stall inside the art studio. In there, they sing that even though they're about to have sex in a dirty bathroom, love is still present. Some of these songs, and their humor, grew on me thanks to song writers Ken Roht and Paul Goldowitz.
Somewhere underneath the movie's skin is a young versus old motif as Connie the vampire, played by rock legend Frank Zappa's daughter, Diva, works alongside Vampire Burt, played by Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson. 
I found both Richardson and Sharon Ferguson's performances fantastic. Richardson's drive and charisma as Burt is clearly natural. It's probably drawn from his being a Backstreet Boy.
Like Anthony Hopkins making the cannibal serial killer Hannibal Lecter bordering on likability among audiences despite being a monster of the worst kind, Richardson does the same with the overly self-indulgent, blood sucking, lustful, callous Burt. He's almost just as likable in a way.
And Ferguson shows Clare Dare Human's narcissistic-drive homicidal ways not only through her actions but also in her intensity and eyes. It takes great talent to really make the audience feel disgust towards a character that deserves it.
The Reinfeld of this movie is Todd. He's loyal to Burt, but certainly not to a fault. He's forced into becoming a vampire. And like Reinfeild, who also became a vampire, Todd is a little inept at his powers overall.
Clay Wilcox, Diva Zappa, and Max Faugno.
Heitkamp is a good casting decision with his youthful looks and ability to portray a carefree attitude, though his acting occasionally seems to lack.
The movie also stars Brooke Baldwin who previously starred in 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Writer and director, Ken Roht was previously a nominee for two Los Angeles Critics Circle Awards for his theater work.
And Producer Kenneth Hughes is known for a diverse list of movie titles such as Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk, Einstein's God Model, and Fell, Jumped, or Pushed.
The movie makes its own vampire with a great potential to be among the ranks of so many classic blood suckers before him. And the movie itself has potential to be quite the cult classic thanks to its humor and notable cast.
It seems to wander off a bit in the second half, confusing me where it wants to go with the story. But it quickly finds its way back on track, taking a hold of my interest well into the end of the film.
It's naughty alright. Vampires have always been naughty. Vampire Burt's Serenade takes it up several notches, just enough for originality's sake.
After its May 8 premier on Amazon, Vampire Burt's Serenade will be available on other platforms. Horror fans shouldn't be disappointed in this late, late night horror musical comedy.

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