Southern Gothic DVD Review: Bible Belt Vampires, Not Quite Twilight

Dipping into every movie category imaginable for a kind of soup to literal nuts genre gorging spree and then some, writer/director Mark Young seems to have singlehandedly invented the red state religious vigilante vampire horror satire, Southern Gothic. Definitely neither for the faint of heart nor devout believers in the audience, Southern Gothic somehow weirdly discovers not so far fetched links between evangelism and vampire mythology.

Intent on keeping audiences on edge and off balance for the duration with false alarm detours, Young begins his mischievous narrative with a sexual predator serial killer surprised by she-vampire comeuppance. The undead feminist fugitive then proceeds to a sinister bible belt town known as Redemption. There the two main gathering places appear to be a rundown church presided over by lecherous madman preacher Enoch Pitt (William Forsythe), and the local strip club – apparently noted less for stripping than clubbing of customers – patrolled by the glum, scrawny alcoholic bouncer, Hazel Fortune (Yul Vasquez).

When surly stripper and single mom ‘my body is my resume’ Hope (Emily Catherine Young) is singled out as the preacher’s sexual obsession, the vagrant vampires lurking in the wings target the sermonizing brute, because they seem to favor villains for their dinner. So when the drained and devoured Pitt turns vampire himself, he hits on a novel approach to Christianity. That is, proclaiming himself the savior in the second coming, because he’s been resurrected, sorta. And can in turn promise immortality and eternal life to everyone in his fiendish flock who agrees to quench his thirst. Or something to that effect.

What ensues isn’t nearly as interesting, involving a carnage-strewn undead holy war against assorted proclaimed sinners, as the story veers into strictly gore terrain. While the dissenters, along with a too drunk to focus Fortune, run interference with somewhat impressive guerrilla vampire slick moves.

On a side note regarding Vasquez’s brooding hero protagonist and reluctant religious vampire slayer Fortune, the frequently born again in movies actor happened to have starred three years ago in Jesus Cooks Me Breakfast, as The Young Jesus. Vasquez will also appear as General Tuco in the upcoming The A-Team, and has been sighted in the past in American Gangster, Steven Soderbergh’s Che, and on television’s Sex And The City and Seinfeld.

IFC Films/MPI Home Video Unrated 2 1/2 stars