Every week Robert Saucedo shines a spotlight on a horror movie worth checking out. Today: Suck on this!
Lately, I’ve been a very conflicted monster fan.
On one hand, it’s nice to see so many classic creature staples in the pop culture spotlight. Whether it be vampires, zombies, werewolves or aliens, there has never been a better time for fans of the supernatural to catch their favorite beasties on the big (or small) screen. Everywhere you turn, audiences are confronted with different versions of the things that go bump in the night — each designed to appeal to a different demographic.
At the same time, though, it’s starting to get to be a bit too much. Whether it’s the plague of zombie mash-up books that clog the aisles of Barnes and Noble (really? A book that mashes-up zombies and Garrison Keilor’s Lake Wobegon?) or the desperate need to “Twilight-ize” everything from Little Red Riding Hood to Teen Wolf, it’s quickly becoming clear that there may be too much of a good thing when it comes to the famous monsters of Filmland.
The more monsters become prevalent in pop culture, the more they become watered down versions of the original legends. At the rate we’re going, the classic monsters of yore are on a bullet train to silliness so profound not even Zombie Abbott and Costello would consider doing another movie with them.
Monsters have always lurked on the fringes of pop culture and the fringe is where monsters belong — with issues of Fangoria and Rue Morgue firmly placed between the toy enthusiast magazines and the periodicals targeted to your lonely aunt who owns too many cats. That’s why it’s nice to see a monster movie come along every now and then that’s seemingly designed to be a cult film through and through.
Suck is a 2010 Canadian horror comedy recently released on DVD and Blu-ray. Written, directed by and starring Rob Stefaniuk, Suck is a suicide soda of genre films — a spurt of different ideas and styles mixed together in a tall glass of awesomeness.
The film takes your standard Eurotrash vampire seduction story, mixes in some rock opera musical numbers that could have come out of a Glee‘s Rocky Horror Picture Show loving, mascara wearing older brother, sprinkles on some Edgar Wright-esque laughs and stylizes the whole picture with a combination of animation techniques, heavy computer tweaking and a brilliant use of colors.
The film is like a music video directed by Mark Romanek if he was high on Pixie Sticks and Mountain Dew. It’s loud, sometimes obnoxious in its tendency to splash around in obvious pop culture references and heavily in danger of being dated quickly but Suck has a charming “let’s put on a show” earnestness to it that will have even those who have already grown sick and tired of the vampire craze grinning ear to ear.
Stefaniuk stars as Joey Winner, the lead vocalist of wannabe rock band The Winners. Long in the tooth and without much of a career to show for his efforts, Winner and his band are one bad gig away from calling it quits when Jennifer (Jessica Paré), the band’s bassist, is bitten by a vampire.
It’s Jennifer’s newly discovered animal magnetism (as visually represented through bright blue contact lens, a shimmering aura and a seemingly omnipresent invisible fan that cascades her hair just so as she slinks through nightclubs) brought out by her transformation into one of the undead that proves to be what the band needed to escape from obscurity.
Soon, audiences are flocking to the Winners’ shows like hungry vampires flocking to a heavy cocaine user’s bloody tissue-filled waste basket.
If Jennifer’s transformation was the catalyst that got the band’s rock of fame rolling down that hill of success, the slow transformation of the rest of the band into vampires really gets the show on the road. Jealous of the attention Jennifer is getting (not to mention her awesome powers like telepathy and the ability to turn into mist), the band begs Jenifer to transform them into the undead too. Soon, The Winners really are winners — attracting a devoted crowd of goth-lites all wanting to watch a quartet of vampires rock out on stage.
Not everybody is pro-fang, though. Eddie Van Helsing (Malcolm McDowell), a vampire slayer and lover of flashlights, is tracking down the band in hopes of finding a means to finally kill Queeny (Dimitri Coats), a top-shelf vampire who has been turning musicians into vampires for some time now.
Suck is a comedy first, a horror movie second. As some band members begin spouting fangs and hovering in the air, the others handle it like cartoon characters — practically jumping into each others’ arms and screaming. After they calm down and reassess the situation, though, they realize that maybe occasionally needing to get rid of a dead body isn’t all that bad. After all, what’s a few dead groupies in the quest to become top of the charts.
Providing a nice center to the film’s comedic soul is Chris Ratz as Hugo, a mild-mannered French-Canadian geek who acts as roadie and resident Renfield to the Winners. It is his job to clean up the corpses, sop up the bloodstains and set up the musical equipment. Hugo’s heavily accented stammering of protest fail to register in the ears of the band, though. They’ve already sold their soul to rock and roll.
Speaking of rock and roll, Suck is chockfull of cameos from all corners of the rock world. Iggy Pop plays Victor, a studio owner and friend of the Winners who has had previous experience with the undead. Alice Cooper is a vampire bartender who acts as a sort of spiritual guide to Joey. Moby, noted vegan, is Beef Bellows, the lead singer of Secretaries of Steak, a metal band whose fans pelt them with raw meat. Henry Rollins and Alex Lifeson of Rush also make appearances.
Also in a small role in the film is Dave Foley as Jeff, the band’s dirtbag manager who tries to quit but comes crawling back once the fan begins to achieve some real success.
Suck is not a film that’s going to appeal to everybody. Heavy in camp and flamboyant in nature, the movie is much sillier than your average vampire horror movie but with slightly bigger balls than the rash of vampire romances that have been springing up in the wake of Twilight. What Suck is, though, is fun. Suck has an aura of joy surrounding it that’s thick enough to stop a stake. While we might have to wait a bit longer before vampires are once again returned to the primordial sliver of society where all good monsters belong, at least in the meantime we can have some fun and rock out with the bloodsuckers. And hey, at least you’re not watching Vampires Suck.
Tags: Alice Cooper, Edgar Wright, Glee, Henry Rollins, Iggy Pop, Malcolm McDowell, Red Riding Hood, Scary Movies (and Super Creeps), Twilight, Vampires Suck