If you’re a horror fan, you’ve heard the tales surrounding the early ‘90s film called “Darkness.” Its creators partially financed it by selling blood, and for years the only copies you could find came from a master that was made by director/producer/writer Leif Jonker projecting the film onto a homemade movie screen in a kitchen while he taped it with a camcorder. Hi-tech? Try no-tech. Despite the fact that nobody had heard of the actors, the film quality wasn’t that great, and the story was fairly bare bones, the gorefest got a following. Enter “Darkness: The Vampire Version,” a two-disc, digitally remastered set with more goodies than you can shake a crucifix at.
If you don’t know the story, don’t worry. Just know that vampires are taking over a small town, and it’s up to Tobe (Gary Miller) and two friends to try to survive. Punctuated by a countdown of how many minutes to sunset or sun rise, this bloody tale seems more like a survival horror video game than a “legit” horror feature — but it works. Yeah, some of the acting is a bit on the overly dramatic side, and yes the story is as thin as an onion skin, but you’ll find yourself cheering these besieged survivors to safety. It’s much the same feeling people got the first time they saw “The Evil Dead” — and I’m not talking about when it first came on video. It’s so enjoyable, that I actually found myself thinking that Jonker would be the perfect guy to do “30 Days of Night.” Just a thought, but I think he could pull it off.
For years, horror fans have only had crappy copies of the movie. Even the German DVD release was from that inferior “print.” (In quotations because it wasn’t a legitimate print by any stretch of the imagination.) Now, however, you can have the film in a format that does it and its cast and crew justice. (And for all you purists out there, the original version of the film is on the second disc.)
Do yourself a favor, horror fans, and get this ASAP if you don’t already have it in your hot little hands. This is amateur filmmaking done right, and the only low-budget horror film that comes close to touching this in terms of sheer enjoyment in recent years is “The Dead Next Door.” If you enjoyed that one for its independent spirit and sheer balls, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth from this film.