A low budget black and white vampire film directed by Mark Beal in 2013 called Enchiridion has been renamed Bloodsuckers Handbook and recut in color for an updated international release. The end result is a film that started off weird and got even weirder, but it works.
Noah (Cory Ahre), a greasy low-rent priest from a backwater somewhere in America is recruited by the US Marshals (who all look like ‘30’s era J. Edgar G-Men) to talk to their captive vampire. It’s unclear how this state of affairs came to pass but somehow they have a vampire in custody.
“The priest finds himself immersed in the arcane world of the iron deficient undead…”
Noah smokes and drinks Jager shots. He bangs hot girls in his grimy little room and pursues other activities incongruous with religious piety, as I understand it. He’s got the cool: he moves through the world to a hip Twin Peaks Lynchian jazz soundtrack which is quite good. The music may be the best thing about this film.
At the behest of Marshals the discount priest conducts an interview with the vampire. Dr. Condu (Jeremy Herrera ) is a surprisingly loquacious and severely dental health challenged blue-black creature reminiscent of Count Orlok in Nosferatu. Upon meeting the vampire and sorting through the materials provided by the Marshals he finds himself immersed in the arcane world of the iron deficient undead. In several meetings with the gleefully macabre Condu Noah learns about the handbook.
Latin words scroll up as the research proceeds (never read the Latin aloud, it’s a horror movie rule). Condu has written a codex of the history of vampirism and the rules of the road for undead aspirants. Stop-motion animation clips present the historical travails of the OG Vlad Tepes, in which occasionally hands manipulating the barbie dolls are visible flashing in and out of scene. Artistic choice or just poor execution? That is a fair question of the whole movie.
Dr. Condu escapes and when Noah finds him he is viciously attacked by stop-motion minions guarding Condu. After 3 days unconscious he wakes to find that a nurse at the free clinic has patched him up. He tells her what he’s doing and conveniently she “knows a guy” who happens to be a stop motion greyhound dog in a dress shirt at a beat poet coffee shop. Reality seems to hold little sway here.
“Beal has shaped surrealistic tackiness into a thrilling dark horror film experience…”
Everything about this movie is jacked up, except the aforementioned soundtrack. It looks awful, there’s little to no acting and the dialog reads like the transcript of a Sunday morning hangover after a too-many-cheap-burritos-and-tequila bender .
Yet, all that said, I like it. Somehow despite the low quality Beal has shaped surrealistic tackiness into a thrilling dark horror film experience, probably most prudently undertaken with some absinthe on hand.
Bloodsuckers Handbook (2017) Written and directed by Mark Beal. Starring Cory W. Ahre, Jessica Bell, Drew Bizzell, Jeremy Herrera.
7 out of 10