R. N. Renfield, once the slave of Dracula, is now an insane vampire stalking a modern day metropolis (Bayou City).
There was a time when video games had the technology to add real video to the experience but budget constraints were still an issue. Some games, “Command & Conquer” and “Wing Commander” are good examples, have cut scenes that are inserted but have bad computer generated backgrounds instead of a real set, horribly acting and atrocious dialogue. These scenes, bad as they were, became comic relief sandwiched in between a great and entertaining game experience. “Renfield The Undead” is a long cut scene without the benefit (and respite) of something entertaining.
Based off of a stage play of the same name “Renfield The Undead” continues the story of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ into the present day. Two detectives are searching for a serial killer who chops off the head and hands of his victims though we rarely get to see this. The killer turns out to be the vampire Renfield as he kills any other vampires created by Mina Harker and Quincy who are after the skull of Dracula. Since one might actually call this an attempt at a sequel there’s an amount of forgiveness in borrowing from the original. How else would it be any good if you don’t stay true to the original? I’m looking at you “Highlander 2.” It’s truly depressing that the best parts of the film are those that are directly lifted from the pages of Bram Stocker’s Dracula as well as Francis Ford Coppola’s film and even the black and white classic, “Nosferatu.” These scenes are presented in a flash back intended to give the necessary exposition as to why Renfield hates Dracula and doesn’t want him to be resurrected as well as how Mina and Quincy are struggling to attain the skull.
The world would have been better off if this had stayed on the stage. The filming lacks any skill in framing, lighting or properly setting up a scene. It becomes confusing as to where they are and why all but one actor seems to have any concept of what each scene requires from the cast. Much of the acting seems to have a poorly improvised feel to it as many of actors spend an awful lot of time talking to themselves without the excuse of exposition. Though obviously an effort to make do with very little the computer generated effects are laughably bad and terribly inconsistent between their use of fake locations and actual ones. Their abuse of the green screen makes me wish is was an earned privilege and not a resource for anyone with a debit card.
If fortune finds you watching through this tempest of crap then remember your one life preserver that just may help you survive to the end; Phil Nichols as Renfield. Primarily a special effects and make-up artist, which will get into in a bit, Nichols is the charming, maniacal, engrossing ray of sunshine that threatens to break up this storm. His incessant laughter begins as absurd but quickly endears his character as mad and unpredictable and as the only truly likable character in the film. He’s able to play insane without reverting to forced mannerism or affectations but rather plays up the supposed clarity of genius that lies within insanity. Many of the best moments are those in which Renfield “understands” something so simple that he’s amused those around him don’t but it all resides in his madness. Though highly reminiscent of the source material the make-up effects are very well done. Many of the vampires retain a distinct yet bat like appearance even if the progression of design seems a bit off (fault may lay with the director on this one.) Aside from fangs that protrude so far from the actor’s faces as to cause a slight speech impediment the special make-up effects and Nichols performance are the stars of the show.
Even though there are a few redeeming qualities in “Renfield The Undead” there isn’t enough of them to justify a viewing of this movie except for the uber vampire fan who won’t listen anyway. There may be nothing worthwhile outside of a clinical study to actually put this on your list.
Renfield The Undead (2010)