Max: Death had finally come for the undead.
One of my greatest joys as a horror blogger and film critic is finding underrated gems that have flown under the radar and bringing them to the attention of our readers. To this end, I’m often scouring horror groups on Facebook and elsewhere, looking for films that never got the appreciation they deserve. I think I hit the jackpot with Live Evil.
If you like your vampire flicks gothic and austere, filled with women in heaving bodices and sensitive, lovelorn bloodsuckers (Like Bram Stoker’s Dracula or Byzantium) then move right along, because Live Evil is not your cup of tea. If, on the other hand, you’re a fan on old-school classics from the 1980’s and 1990’s like Fright Night, The Lost Boys, and From Dusk Till Dawn, then this is a movie you should be rushing out to find.
The filmmakers have managed to give the somewhat played-out vampire subgenre of horror a few fresh innovations. The premise at the film’s foundation is incredibly creative: Years of pollution, sexual abandon, drug use, poor diets, and smoking has made most human blood unfit for vampire consumption. This forces disparate groups of the undead to battle among themselves for what remains of pure sustenance. It’s a total subversion of the standard parasitic relationship usually established in vampire films, one that effectively turns the film’s ruthless killers into unlikely antiheroes.
Behind the Scenes
Another great innovation is the way the filmmakers portray different group of vampires as having unique strengths and weaknesses. Some shrivel in sunlight while others can walk around by day unscathed; some have even developed additional mouths for feeding. The movie also redefines how a person becomes a vampire: Simply being bitten will only change someone who has been seduced.
Unlike those twerps in Twilight, these undead don’t sparkle. In fact, Live Evil can be viewed as the Anti-Twilight. With an abundance of sex and nudity, and an ungodly amount of bloody viscera and extreme violence, this film isn’t for the easily offended or faint of heart; decapitations and dismemberments are common, and a scene where fellacio leads to emasculation is especially cringe-inducing.
Live Evil benefits immensely from the use of practical FX without a hint of CGI. And even though the results are often unpolished, the gore is so gleefully abundant that you only really notice the action. Live Evil also deserves credit for pushing the envelope when it comes to what is considered an acceptable level depravity. There aren’t many films with guts enough to kill off babies (scenes so outlandish they prevented Live Evil from being shown at Shreikfest in 2009). The film also features great stunt work with several epic car wrecks and explosions.
Live Evil is also like a trip down memory lane with a couple bonafide horror icons in the cast. Tim Thomerson (Trancers, Near Dark, Malevolence) plays a man known only as “The Priest”. He’s a rugged, no-nonsense, Rutger Hauer-type of nomadic assassin; with his cowboy hat and samurai sword, the Priest is a mash-up of hero tropes from Eastern and Western cinema. Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead, From Beyond) also appears in the film as the “Blood Pusher” Max; my only complaint about his performance is that there isn’t enough of it!
Live Evil is definitely a film with an immense untapped market, making it a great candidate for re-release or reissue; I could even see this film becoming a hit franchise, in film or television.
What really attracted me to this film are he efforts of Live Evil’s writer/producer, Mark Terry, to keep the film alive and relevant—no easy task for a filmmaker working without the aid of a major studio. Mark stokes interest in the film by promoting it in Facebook groups and even throwing contests among viewers for free copies. While Live Evil is available on Amazon, you can also find it in Jester Movie Machines (a smaller version of Redbox). If you have one of these machines in your area, check out the video below for a free promo code:
You can also get your own DVD by contacting Mark directly at email@example.com; copies of Live Evil can also be found on eBay and the film can be viewed on the Play Station Network.
Live Evil was released by Warner on VOD in 2009 and has recently been made available in Germany, Thailand, the Middle East, Argentina, and even Russia. You can find it in the UK on Blinkbox.
With mainstream, big-budget horror consistently disappointing genre fans, lesser-known gems like Live Evil cannot be ignored. Sure, the film might be 5 years old, but its innovative creativity and balls-out action make it as exciting as just about any vampire flick you’re likely to find.
Have you seen Live Evil and, if so, what did you think of it? Sound off in the comments section!
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