“Don’t Islamic Vampire Terrorists Suck?” They sure do, but the movie definitely doesn’t. In fact, it’s actually quite fun, in a geeky kind of way. Writer/director Brett William Mauser’s film, ahem, “borrows” liberally from Tarantino (especially Pulp Fiction) and you know what, he gets away with it. Because Mauser’s confidently gonzo script and direction are all his own. And because his obvious enthusiasm for movies is quite evident and kind of charming, again, in a geeky kind of way. Mauser keeps us film geeks sated with frequent references to the movies and even titles his chapters after some (Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Islamic Vampire Terrorists But Were Afraid to Ask, When Montoya Met the Brotherhood, Saving Private Mike, etc). Strangely enough, this is the second film I’ve reviewed in the past few weeks that combines terrorists and vampires. That other film, the blandly-titled “Bloodshot”, was an equally twisted good time, but what sets “DIVTS” apart are those two words at the end of the title: The Game. That’s right, “DIVTS” is one of those “interactive” movies, where the viewer can determine certain actions of certain characters and, in so doing, alter the course of the plot. I cannot judge whether this gimmick works or not, since it is still a work-in-progress and I’m not a game critic, but I can say that if it’s half as cool as the film (which I’m assuming is the one with all the “right” choices), then I’d gladly shill out my hard-earned dough for a chance to play.
So what’s the deal with these Islamic vampire terrorists anyway? Well, apparently they won a mystical sword (in a poker game) that was forged from the same metal as Excaliber and that belonged to an ancient (well, 25 years old, actually), secret brotherhood of, ahem, clones of mercenaries from the 70’s, who were hired by a nameless Islamic heroine to protect it against the wicked vampire warlord, Lamark. Trite, I know. So, to get back their prized possession in time for the prophesized final showdown between the Islamic heroine and the vampire warlord, the brotherhood kidnaps a two-bit hood named Mike (played by the Tarantino-inspired Mauser, a lot less annoyingly than his inspiration). The only reasonable explanation for this, at least that I can gather, is that it means his badass roommate Ruby James (DeMarcus Young) gets involved. Ruby couldn’t care less about Mike, it’s just that he needs this month’s rent. Ruby enlists another two-bit hood named Montoya (rapper Capone) to steal back the sword from the Islamic vampires and hand it over to the Brotherhood in exchange for Mike. After loads of witty street banter, pop-cultural references, gunfights, ass kicking, hip-hop music, and one gratuitous hot chick, Ruby and Montoya reach the vampire stronghold and well, take care of things in their own unique ways.
While “DIVTS” is a 35-minute expansion of Mauser’s same-named short film, things like character development and plot are still short-changed in favor of gratuitous, repetitive shoot-outs. It’s a stretch to even call them shoot-outs, since they mostly consist of one character with a gun comically slaughtering hordes of vampires or “brothers”, who mindlessly advance like so many lemmings. There’s never a shred of doubt as to who will survive these exchanges, as there’s zero resistance ever put up. Maybe that’s where the game part comes in. Then there’s Mauser’s blatant thievery of “Pulp Fiction”. Mr. Mauser, I know it’s been almost 10 years (!) since that modern classic came out, but we all still remember the dialogue (some of us word for word), the Wolf, and the infamous “cheeseburger scene”. We’ll let you slip by this time with your idle speeches on how smoking is cool, that it was Bogart who created the Rat Pack, and the hit man etiquette of ringing vs. knocking. We’ll even let you rip-off the Wolf. Why? Because we like you. You show promise both in front of and behind the camera. You like movies and hey, so do we. And most of all, because your (non-interactive, at least) “DIVTS” is a hoot and we look forward to playing around in that world. But next time it’s Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200.

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