Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter

2001 religious kung-fu musical horror comedy

Rating: 12/20

Plot: I haven't read it, but I think this might be based on John's the Book of Revelation.

Yes, that's Santo on the cover, side-by-side with Jesus and ready to fight lesbian vampires. And in the middle is Mary Magnum in that tight little red leather number. Fetching. Making Jesus an action hero is dangerous business, especially since a lot of religious folk don't have much of a sense of humor. But I'm not sure Christians would be too appalled with the character Himself since I don't think He does anything Jesus wouldn't have done like Scorsese had Him doing in The Last Temptation of Christ. Unless bad puns are offensive. In fact, even though the title hero is your typical overblown action hero, he is the hero. He fights evil, and he quotes scripture. What's likely more blasphemous is the use of Santo. El Santo in Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter can't wrestle and is portly. When watching this movie, your first thought (other than "This is blasphemous!") would probably be, "I think this might have been made on the cheap." And you'd be right. Your third thought would probably be, "This was made in 2001? No way! It's got to be from the 70s!" But there's a charm to the proceedings, and the script, littered with (intentionally?) bad punnage and silly action hero banter, is funny enough. I found myself laughing more than I really wanted to. For whatever reason, hearing Jesus deliver the line "I'll need to buy some wood. . .for stakes!" was hilarious. I also thought the spinning crucifix used as a Batman-esque transition between scenes was clever. I also liked a scene where about three hundred baddies get out of an SUV. Not all the comedy worked though, evidenced by a scene where Jesus has a conversation with a bowl of cherries. The bowl of cherries actually tells him to find El Santo. I can't decide if seeing Jesus and a priest hanging out at a Hooters-type restaurant is funny or not. There's a lot of kung-fu in this movie, and it won't exactly make you think of Bruce Lee. The fight scenes often seemed endless, and if the guy who played Jesus (Phil Caracas [Wait a second! Isn't the guy who plays Jesus in the Mel Gibson movie named Caracas?]) had any martial arts training, they wasted their obviously limited funds on it. There is a scene where a character uses intestines as a weapon though. I should have started making a list of those movies a long time ago. This is also a musical, and although the songs were only slightly more tolerable than Repo: The Genetic Opera's numbers, there at least was some eclecticism. You had punk, techno-robot-lounge, keyboard blipping, 80s feel-good movie rock, Mexicali funk, cheesy lounge, neo-funk with vocoder, dance music, retarded jazz, and my personal favorite--a really creepy song where somebody whispered the books of the New Testament with cymbal accompaniment. The performers were likely friends of the director, some of them, I think, appearing as more than one character, but three of them were real stand-outs. Josh Grace was deliriously over-the-top as Dr. Praetorious. I checked his resume, and he's been in a few of JCVH director's Lee Demarbre's movies including one where Demarbre includes another Mexican movie legend--The Aztec Mummy. I can't find the name of a screaming woman, but it was one of the best screams I've heard in a long time. But the very best part of the movie is the introduction and musical performance of Blind Jimmy Leper played by an actor named "Lucky Ron" who had about as many teeth as Shane McGowen. He does this scatting number which could probably prove the existence of God to even the most diehard of atheists. Jesus jumped on the stage and did his own scatting, but he couldn't beat the work of Blind Jimmy Leper. And when you're Lucky Ron and can prove in your lone movie that you can out-scat Christ Himself, you don't have to do anything else as a performer to win a lifetime achievement award on shane-movies.

Note: I've heard that there's an Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter movie being made. Joaquin Phoenix is attached to that project. I guess his career is doing just fine!

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