In the 21st century, American cinema has come to love vampires and vampire hunters alike. The video game-turned-film franchise, “Resident Evil” took in hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office alone. The “Underworld” trilogy put up similar numbers. Jovavich. Beckinsdale. Do I even need to bring up Sarah Michelle Gellar?
During Dracula’s height of fame, he was portrayed as stately, romantic, charismatic and controlling. He could bend a woman’s will with a simple stare. At the turn of the century, audiences flipped that coin, siding with the independent and fierce vampire slayer over the omnipotent, supernatural beast. “The Devil’s Gravestone” tells the story of one woman; one fierce, focused vampire killer, and her battle against the hordes of the undead.
In this tale, viewers meet Jaq Molton (LaMont), in search of the closest Vampire champion. Jaq adapts the know-your-enemy approach to battle, and she knows her enemy better than anyone. Jaq is on the trail of a twisted vampire known as the Scarlet Stalker, and that famed Vampire is her husband, Cale. She is haunted by the vision of Cale feeding on their son.
Jaq’s life is soon interrupted by an unexpected counterpart; a private investigator named Dick. The Chain-smoking and liquor-slugging Dick is the embodiment of all things Noir. He knows everything about Jaq and Cale. Jaq and Dick have an unsteady relationship, where neither openly reveals everything about themselves. This causes tension and mistrust, even when they’re fighting for their lives together.
Dick brings Jaq to meet Dexter, a bookworm who has been studying vampires and their culture. He reveals that Cale is leading the vampires down a path that will incorporate powerful beings who can bring about the end of mankind. There are whispers that Satan himself is behind the vampires’ actions. Dick then introduces Jaq to Doc, a bizarre medical man who works in a dingy basement lab. Doc seems to be keyed in to the biological ramifications of the vampire plot, and Jaq soon learns that her husband may have taken a new bride; the means to the end of the human race.
“The Devil’s Gravestone” is the result of a great idea shot with a tiny budget. All the proper elements are present in this take on the idea. The heroine (LaMont) is merciless, scared and compassionate when she’s meant to be. The villain is good at threats and leers and general villain stuff. Dick (Nemmers) is a good rehash of all storybook private eyes. The setting is ominous. The ultimate battle between husband and wife is driven home by the script and dialogue. In short, TDG is a fantastic story that needs a few extra bucks in order to evolve and become the message that will surprise and entertain the masses.
TDG would be great with the proper writer behind it. The story has a good mix of detectives, good guys, supernatural bad guys and a plot that goes beyond “these pale guys want to eat you.” Fans of Jim Butcher and Kat Richardson will definitely appreciate what writer/director Roach is shooting for with this one.
“The Devil’s Gravestone” runs 92 minutes. The pre-release DVD includes only the film.