J: Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter (2001)

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jesus-christ-vampire-hunter-15202Jesus Christ is already among us again, which is something taken for granted in Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter; any further explanation is unnecessary, and that is going to go for the rest of the movie. You hold on, and hopefully enjoy the ride, and how much you’re going to do that will depend on your own sense of charity and willingness to share in the enthusiasm of the filmmakers.

Evil vampires Johnny Golgotha (writer Ian Driscoll) and Maxine Shreck (Murielle Verhelyi) are victimizing and decimating the lesbian population of Ottawa, and it is up to our Lord and Savior (Phil Caracas) to employ his kung fu skills to save the day. In this he will be aided by the cat-suited Mary Magnum (Maria Moulton) and eventually the famous Mexican wrestler El Santo (Jeff Moffet).  That is your story, and it is stretched – sometimes a bit painfully – over 85 minutes.

Production is a familiar story – JCVH was shot on 16mm, on weekends, over the course of two years (which is probably a motivating factor for Jesus cutting his long hair and shaving early on). There’s going to be a certain amount of rough edges in an enterprise like that,  making an action comedy without professional stuntmen and the like. The thing is, you can see director Lee Demarbre getting more skillful in his camera setups and editing as the movie progresses.

jesus-christ-vampire-hunterOne of the early big fight scenes – when Jesus is attacked by a roving band of atheists (which is pretty funny, especially the endless of supply of assailants pouring out of the Atheist Jeep), looks like what it is – basically a home movie made with a bunch of enthusiastic friends. By the time we get to the final battle between our two heroes and the bad guys, Demarbre has gotten really good at tightening up this stuff, and the only thing holding him back is money. As it is, that extended fight scene would stand up well to the finale of any number of direct-to-video action flicks from the 80s made by supposed professionals.

maxresdefaultI’m also going to tip my hat to the pretty inclusive nature of the movie. When the seemingly defeated Jesus asks Golgotha “Why lesbians?” (the evil Dr, Praetorius (Josh Grace) is grafting their skin on the bloodsuckers to provide immunity from sunlight) and the vampire replies “They’re deviants, no one will miss them,” Jesus’ answer: “There is nothing deviant about love” seems wholly in keeping with The Naz’s actual teachings. (Santo’s rejoinder, “Good one, My Lord! Truth is like garlic to them!” proves that Driscoll had the most fun writing him). After an earlier defeat, echoing the Good Samaritan, the only person who will stop to aid a bleeding Jesus on the street is a transvestite. In a final Sermon in the Mount scene, Jesus begs his followers to “pay attention to the message, not the messenger.” There’s a lot the script gets right.

There’s a lot that’s questionable, too, but hey: this is a labor of love that got finished, and then got distributed, and then got broadcast at least once I can think of. All these things are minor miracles in and of themselves. It’s worth watching at least once, but bring along that Christian charity you’ve been saving up.

 Buy Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter on Amazon

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