Film Review: VAMPIRE BURT’S SERENADE (directed by Ken Roht)

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by Tony Frankel on May 18, 2020

in Film

UNDEAD, UNREAL, AND UNINTERESTING

Unrelentingly campy and absurd, Vampire Burt’s Serenade revels in its own trashiness and in-your-face pansexuality, but this low-rent 2014 indie horror/musical doesn’t seem to give a shit about two things: the horror and the music (pre-released as The Bloody Indulgent, it is now a 2020 VOD release on Amazon Prime). With 30 songs in 75 minutes, director/writer Ken Roht and his co-tunesmith Paul Goldowitz didn’t offer a truly decent tune until the closing credits, in which the very appealing Kevin Scott Richardson of the Backstreet Boys bloodily swings and scats his way through the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy-esque number “Predator-Swing” (as an actor, he’s completely wasted, while others are as wooden as a stake). With Bob Malone’s terrific arrangement, this number represented two of the many missing ingredients for this Waters/Corman/Warhol meets Rocky Horror wannabe: wit and crazy-fun movement. This is very surprising given that Mr. Roht has created some of my favorite theatergoing experiences in Los Angeles at a theater and rock club named The Bootleg (which is where this was filmed). You do get a slight taste of his choreographic humor in a pas-de-zombies number (the comedic duo of out-of-nowhere zombies is one of the biggest disappointments here), but his normally uber-creative designers offer nothing more than a student film can with a one-day shoot.

After an egotistical, self-indulgent vampire Burt (Richardson) kills the owner of a seedy neighborhood club, the strippers there (really?! these people make a living as strippers?!) vow retribution. They eventually meet up at a weird drug den run by a non-vampire woman who loves to drug-up models and shoot them dead); after a love scene in a skanky love scene by a rusty old toilet, and the promise of a lot of sex that never materializes (I was surprised we finally saw a nipple), all I could wonder is if cherry syrup as blood makes you sick.

I have to give a shout-out to editor Rick Pratt — assisted by 7 others — and cinematographer Strati Hovartos for making this look better than it has a right to. There’s also some cool animated special effects.

Forget suspense, forget terror, forget realism, forget backstory, forget appeal, and then maybe you’ll forget you ever heard about this thing. I’ll have my stake now.

Vampire Burt’s Serenade
Trees of Shade
2020 | color | USA | 76 minutes | not rated
available at Amazon Prime

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