Teenagers step up the plate and defend their small town from a vampire menace created by the strong blood sucker Liven in this early 90’s low budget gore fest.
Director: Leif Jonker
Starring: Gary Miller, Randall Aviks, Michael Gisick
“It’s bleedin’ time baby!”
Vampires have come a long way over the course of the last hundred years; one could easily put in two different “vampire” films and easily be introduced to two very different versions of the some myth. Leif Jonker’s low budget master piece Darkness mainly portrays the undead and very fast and dangerous killers who are only looking to sedate their own appetites and in the process also create a menace that can easily run over a small town.
Darkness as a title is usually followed by several different words and the reason for this is because it has been edited and attempted to be cleaned up for years since its release. The rumor is that the film was originally supposed to be something of a “demo tape” of FX work and originally it was shot while being shown on a white piece of cardboard, yes the film is that low budget. The version I want to talk about here though is known as “Darkness: The Vampire Version”, this version has been tweaked to perfection.
When one first puts on the recently released DVD one can very quickly tell the difference between the old versions of the film and the new version. Leif put a lot of work into the film (he was just 19 when the film was originally shot!) and even some blood was donated by him to pay for the budget of the film.
The plot behind Darkness is pretty easy to describe, there is a powerful vampire named Liven who simply goes from town to town and turns everyone into a vampire. Like I said earlier though these vampires barely even talk, when they do its done in a possessed “Evil Dead” kind of way. The vampires simply run around the town in packs and kill off their victims who then rise up as members of the undead army themselves.
The beginning of the film introduces the viewer to a character named Tobe who just happens to be at the local convenience store when all Hell literally breaks loose. A friend of Tobe’s runs into the store covered in blood screaming that his attacker is on the way, luckily for everyone there is a cop inside the convenience store who tries to calm the boy down. The boy easily steals the cops gun from her and proceeds to blow his brains out just in time to Liven to show up and start killing people, Liven doesn’t work alone though as the kid who just blew his brains out suddenly springs back to life and starts killing people as well.
Tobe gets away from the store and in the next scene we see him try desperately to save his mother and his sister but it is too late they have already been turned into the undead themselves. The events of that night have changed Tobe and suddenly he is a vampire hunting machine. The viewer gets to see an example of this when Tobe storms into a house where a group of the undead sleep and starts destroying them in blood soaked fashion, there is even a chainsaw fight! It is about this point in the film that only the hardcore splatter fans will really begin to appreciate the film.
Luckily for the small town though not everyone was made into a vampire, there are a group of teenage kids who are going to a concert. While the teenagers are at the concert Liven has decided to take over the town so that when the kids get back they are suddenly thrown into a nightmare world, one girl’s own father attacks her with a power drill! It is only a matter of time before a group of these teenagers meet up with Tobe who has become an expert marksman with a gun as he explains to the survivors to “aim for their hearts” when one goes to shoot the undead menace.
Really that is about the plot of Darkness the teenagers fight off the vampires in truly wonderful gory fashion until the final stand off. I don’t want to ruin the film’s ending for anyone but I will say this is one ending you definitely want to see and when one watches the extras on the DVD one learns that the “vampire” bodies that are blown up are actually really being shot with a shot gun, talk about taking risks to make a movie!
The recent release of Darkness: The Vampire Version is definitely worth picking up though not just because the film really is a splatter classic but because of all of the extra’s that come with it. This is a young film makers dream come true as a lot of the background into the film is revealed on the extra’s and just goes to show you that anyone with a true love of the genre can easily get out there and make their own film.
The FX for Darkness though is really what sells the film, heads are blown off and throats are torn away. One vampire is violently attacked with a machete and every time one of the vampires gets a hold of one of their victims the viewer is treated to a shower of the red stuff on the screen. Leif Jonker’s Darkness might be low budget and sure some of the acting can be pretty bad but in the long run one watches a splatter film to see the splatter and Darkness definitely delivers that in abundance.
Darkness (Leif Jonkers) (1993)