J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Sunset Society: Put a Stake In It


Basically, we get two kinds of vampires these days, the lusty Anne Rice kind and the moody self-denying Twilight variation. These undead are definitely the former. They are also dumber than a bag full of wooden stakes. It is difficult to imagine how the ancient undead could be so boring, but somehow they are in Phoebe Dollar’s Sunset Society (trailer here), which opens this Friday in Los Angeles.

Basically, the randomly assembled plot involves the search for the last surviving copy of a DIY documentary that would have exposed the existence of the vampires and their mutual aid social club, the Sunset Society. It turns out, the Macguffin tape has been incorporated into a tribute to Ace, the former leader of the Sunset Society, produced by his faithful lover Sophia. Her cobbled together film captures some rather turbulent events in the society’s history, including the unsanctioned turning of a mentally unstable goth girl. That would be Gage that messed up. He was one of Sophia’s pals.

Honestly, this film is nearly unwatchable. The narrative is basically a series of aimless incidents held together with bailing wire, the editing is incoherently herky-jerky, and the whole thing looks like it was lit with a single Coleman lantern. Obviously, it has been on the shelf of a while, since Ace is played by Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, who has been dead since 2015. It seems Ace has also passed away in the film’s current day time frame, but there is never any explanation as to how the supposedly shrewd and ferocious vampire big cheese met his end.

Despite its shortcomings, Sunset Society probably still notched a lot of ancillary sales, because of its rock & roll connections. In addition to Kilmister, the cast also includes members of Guns N’ Roses and the L.A. Dolls, as well as former adult movie star Ron Jeremy, who gets more screen time than he really should, most likely because he can handle simple line-readings. The comp for this film was probably Rob Stefaniuk’s Suck, but that film has wit and energy, plus its rock star cameos come from the likes of Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop.

It should be readily stipulated Dollar is quite sultry as Sophia, but she helms the film into a brick wall. Apparently, she had directorial help on the wrap arounds from Rolfe Kanefsky, the auteur responsible for The Black Room and about half a dozen Emmanuelle films, which is probably all you need to know. The animated interludes are definitely the best parts, but they are really nothing special. This is just a dingy-looking train wreck of a movie. Not recommended, Sunset Society opens tomorrow (7/6) in LA at the Downtown Independent.

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