Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter (2001)

(In theaters, August 2001) As an Ottawa-born cinephile, I have a duty to be indulgent about any hometown product. And there’s a lot to be indulgent about with this nano-budget film (think Blair Witch Project, except even lower) shot on 16mm film. Blurry image, atrocious looping, unpolished editing, bad acting… it just goes on. Cheap to the point where the title graphics look better than the rest of the film. The sound is especially bad in a movie theater, though home viewers won’t have to struggle as much to hear what’s being said on-screen. If you look past the flaws, however, there’s a lot to like in Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter. The weird sense of humor is the film’s biggest selling point, from the premise implied in the title, to the opening MacGuffin (someone’s killing all the lesbians in the Ottawa area! Edge festival threatened!) to the use of Mexican wrestler Santos as a main character—along with an unexplainably amusing sexual harassment joke involving his assistant. But beyond that, look even closer and you’ll find some compelling fight choreography (!) with an imagination rivaling Jackie Chan’s usual antics. The musical numbers are also pretty enjoyable (“It’s okay/it’s all right/Everybody gets laid tonight”) despite the lousy sound, and even feature local-area bands. Storywise, it holds together as well as other kung-fu films, even though the end Jesus/Doctor battle is somewhat too tasteless to my liking. I’m still not sure if I’d recommend the film to anyone else, but I had some fun watching it, Ottawa scenery or not.

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