Tuesday 15 September 2009

The Backlash Bites: Lesbian Vampire Killers

Phil Claydon’s Lesbian Vampire Killers is a film so blatant in its misogyny and homophobia that it almost has a quaint charm about it. Almost, but not quite. This cheerfully crass, amateurish movie might have been devised by the editors of Nuts magazine. It’s the sort of film that probably shouldn’t be watched sober, but it raises a (very) few (very) guilty laughs anyway. “There’s a 15-year-old boy inside all of us who made this movie,” comments Claydon. Too true. Jonathan Ross contributes an enthusiastic cover quote.

For Gavin and Stacey fans, the chief - only - attraction of LVK is its pairing of Matthew Horne and James Corden. They play pals who, seeking respite from a neurotic girlfriend and ball-busting female boss respectively, head off for a weekend hiking trip, only to end up in a hamlet called Cragwich in which all the women, at age eighteen, are reborn as lesbian vampires.
Horne and Corden are resourceful, talented chaps; they try their best with Claydon’s shoddy material and play off their G&S personas fairly amusingly. But there’s nothing of the TV show’s quirky wit and warmth in this amalgam of sex comedy and (spoof) horror flick. (Sample banter: “Bottoms up! Cocks in” and “You are a penis.”) The height of hilarity here is Paul McGann’s Vicar saying “Fuck.” “Even dead women would sooner sleep with each other than get with me,” wails Corden’s character at one point.

The film’s sexual politics is its most noteworthy aspect. Lesbian Vampire Killers is about as explicit a fulfilment of Faludi’s backlash as you could (n)ever wish to see, a film in which women who dump men deserve death and lesbianism is presented as an abomination equal to vampirism. The Cragwich girls’ penchant for blood-sucking is, according to this movie’s logic, simply a disturbing extension of their sexual orientation: lesbianism - or being “a lover of the vagine” - is blithely presented throughout as “a curse”, an evil perversion “fuelled by a hatred of men”. “Massive tits, never speaks” - that’s this film’s version of the ideal woman. Yes, the movie possesses a “feisty” heroine but only one spared the “curse” of homosexuality. The hysterical girlfriend gets what’s coming to her and the “psycho bitch vampire queen” Carmilla can only be vanquished by an encounter with the ultimate phallic object: a sword with, oh yes, a penis-shaped handle. The piss-poor finale proposes a greater horror: a gay (ie. limp-pawed) werewolf.

As a dramatisation of hetero fears and fantasies Lesbian Vampire Killers certainly has its fascination, but as a horror-comedy it is sadly under-par. It’s a pretty bad indictment of the UK film industry that a film of this ineptitude gets such a wide distribution. Memo to Terence Davies: if hoping to secure funding for your next film, some lesbian vampires (or in-vogue TV stars) might just help.

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