27 October 2014 | Pycal
Griffin's Best Film Since MURDER UNIVERSITY
In 2012, director Richard Griffin made one of the most entertaining low-budget horror flicks in recent times with MURDER UNIVERSITY. It's a film full of black humor, satire, and is a loving tribute to 80s slashers. After that, the director followed with DR. FRANKENSTEIN'S WAX MUSEUM which was a nice love letter to Hammer horror films (and SCOOBY-DOO) that is highly entertaining (if a bit less polished and smaller in scope than MURDER U). Then we have this year's SINS OF Dracula which could almost belong to a loose, unofficial "triology" with the other two movies given their common casts (predominately focusing on young protagonists), subject matter and themes (horror, dark humor), and setting (loosely, the 1980s). And while MURDER U and WAX MUSEUM were tributes to certain sub-genres and cinematic movements, SINS is perhaps most interesting for being a biting satire of Christian scare films. Yes, the no-budget cautionary propaganda tales probably produced by your local church in the 1970s and 80s (even if films of the type have never really disappeared). Plenty is taken from the great popular and cult cinema of the 70s and 80s too with the film feeling a lot like 85's FRIGHT NIGHT at times. In addition, the film makes nods to everything from one the most famous horror films of the 70s to blaxploitation movies. Oh yeah, and if you couldn't tell by now, the film just so happens to involve Dracula and a satanic thespian intent on raising that Prince of Darkness from the dead. Some might be disappointed by how little this movie actually has to do with 'ol Fangface, but you should know what you're getting into if you've seen the film's trailer (or watched the film's first act).
As a film, SINS is considerably well crafted. Easily one of Grifin and co.'s best looking films and perhaps the closest one aesthetically to the 70s/80s exploitation films it's trying to ape (without needing the added dust or scratches of THE DISCO EXORCIST). There's great camera-work (among it a crane shot, and lots of stylish zooms) and excellent practical effects by New England gore-wizard Jordan Pacheco. Sure there's clear use of plaster mannequins played for laughs, but there's plenty of stuff that feels like it belongs right smack in a Hammer made Dracula movie. Furthermore, the film is headlined by great music consisting of hilarious diegetic numbers and a fantastic Euro-cult flavored score by Timothy Fife. Fife's pounding synth score is (for lack of a better word) quite sexy and brings to mind the work of Italian maestro Riz Ortolani (with a pinch of Italian prog rock band Goblin).
Plenty of Scorpio Releasing regulars line the cast and many of the leads from MURDER U return to star. Jamie Dufault has lots of charisma in the lead role of Billy while NUN OF THAT'S Sarah Nicklin gives a memorable (and hugely adorable) turn as his girlfriend (probably ranking as my favorite of her roles). Also returning is Samantha Acampora who gives plenty of zest to her role of Traci-- a D&D nerd. Supporting actors are great as well with Carmine Capobianco being hilarious as Billy's pastor, and Steven O'Broin (FUTURE JUSTICE) once again making a superb villain. Michael Thurber (who already excelled at playing Dr. Frankenstein) is a great presence as Dracula and brings to mind the best of old school Dracs Christopher Lee, John Carradine, and Bela Lugosi in his (mostly silent) performance. Everyone seems to be having fun here and Michael Varrati's script is extremely witty and plays with cinema tropes and societal stereotypes to maximum comedic effect.
In sum, SINS is a hugely entertaining film that will no doubt make a killer triple feature with Griffin's earlier MURDER U and FRANKENSTEIN'S WAX MUSEUM. See it!