Dir. Steve Lawson
The second feature from director Steve Lawson (Just For The Record), is a vampires-meet-gangsters horror romp that stands alongside recent British vampire flick Beyond the Rave as a slick, modernised take on the genre, that goes some way to evoke the spirit of such contemporary-set Amicus and Hammer titles such as Dracula A.D. 1972 and The Satanic Rites Of Dracula. An intriguing blend of the vampire and Cockney gangster movie genres, Dead Cert promises much, and it mainly delivers the goods. Combining the standard ingredients of both genres and assured enough to take itself seriously, it also benefits from its a seasoned cast of familiar British acting talent including Dexter Fletcher, Lisa McAllister, Dave Legeno, Jason Flemying, Janet Montgomery (The Hills Run Red) and, in a sly, fleeting cameo, Mr British Horror himself, Danny Dyer.
While it takes the gangsters a while to figure out who exactly they are up against, the audience are privy to this information from the get-go. The inclusion of Van-Helsing-like harbinger of doom Mason, who tries to warn the men about their new adversaries, is a canny vintage throwback but works well enough within this context too. Steven Berkoff channels the late Donald Pleasance in his portrayal of the tortured man trying to right past wrongs and keep the eviiiiil Livienko out of London.
Lawson fleshes out his characters and gradually reveals their various motivations – honourable and otherwise. The kinds of ‘values’ usually upheld in the world of organised crime are scrutinised and subverted – the idea that family and honour are no longer as important as the likes of business and money lends proceedings an air of bleak hopelessness. Yet Lawson still presents the protagonist as a father-to-be, who does the dodgy things he does in order to ensure his wife and baby will be better off. The figure of the vampire as a threat to all this harks back to Stoker’s ‘Dracula;’ indeed aspects of that particular mythos are woven through this tale too, particularly in the bizarre pseudo-psychic/dream link Freddy shares with Livienko – and the disturbing nightmares he experiences when he begins his dealings with the man.
The taut climax is suitable bloody, unfolding in a face-off between gangsters and vampires in the red-lit, lurid nightclub, appropriately named Inferno; complete with a bevy of pole-dancing, scantily-clad and be-fanged ladies of the night.
Produced by horror specialists Black & Blue Films and recalling the previously mentioned Hammer classics, as well as later vampire movies such as Vamp and The Lost Boys, Dead Cert was selected for the opening night of the FrightFest horror film festival and will be released on DVD (£15.99) by Momentum Pictures on 27th September 2010. Special Features include: audio commentary; ‘Making of’ featurette.