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I attended the World Premiere of "Suck" at the 2009 Toronto
International Film Festival. To simply say that this film is an
original hybrid of genres doesn't do it justice. I'd label it a rock 'n
roll vampire musical comedy road movie. Talk about a unique concept.
Writer/director/composer/lead actor Rob Stefaniuk has crafted a work of pure genius. The basic premise is simple: rock band The Winners, like most small-town acts, will do whatever it takes to make it in the music world. They stumble upon an "interesting" formula and hit the road.
The catch here is that the technique comes via bandmate Jennifer (Jessica Paré), who picked up something while carousing with a visiting rock band that gives them powers you just don't get from Red Bull.
The mind-boggling ensemble cast features such diverse icons as Malcolm McDowell and Dave Foley to rock legends including Alice Cooper, Henry Rollins, Moby, Iggy Pop, and Alex Lifeson. There aren't just cameos, either.
Even with its stellar cast, "Suck" is still story-driven and filled with gutbusting humor. The script guarantees a gag on every page. Production values belie the film's relatively small budget with topnotch visual and special effects that just wowed me. Michele Conroy's rapid-fire editing picks up the already fast pace of the action and never lets up. But the soundtrack makes the movie. Kickass music infuses the film in segments that could function as standalone videos or strung together to make a concert movie. The fact that most of the musicians/characters (led by director Rob Stefaniuk) actually wrote, play, and sing their own songs is a big plus, to say the least.
That's what the director (and lead actor) was afraid of in the question
and answer session after the theater showing at Montreal Fantasia
Festival. What if his movie called "Suck" sucked ? Well it doesn't but
it's not that great either. I'm not quite sure it's an humorous
alternative for Twilight fans either (or people sick of it) as they're
two very different beasts. Suck is a rock horror comedy with vampires.
The only female of an unsuccessful band gets turned into a vampire and
the band then starts gaining success because of her very charismatic
presence. We see the band travelling from city to city, trying to deal
with their changed band mate while being tempted themselves by the dark
Jessica Paré, the actress playing the female band member, is mesmerizing to look at with her white skin, pale blue eyes and red lips. One could understand the fascination she would create. The other highlight of this film are the roles played by famous musicians such as Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop. They're a bit longer and juicier than cameos but although they play well, they basically play themselves and nothing particularly challenging (except for Moby, a pacifist vegan in a surprising performance). I admit the crowd reacted very well to the film but a Fantasia crowd is quite generous with this kind of genre film, especially a Canadian one. I personally found it sometimes amusing but not hilarious except for a few bits (one of them being a visit to a convenience store).
Suck's writing did not impress me as it often felt too easy or cliché. The low-budget production had a Canadian and straight-to-DVD flavor to it. From a technical standpoint, it was quite bland with too many cuts from one head to another in dialogue scenes often making it feel as if the two actors were not even in the same place. The spinning vampire and the crossroads showed a bit more inspiration. The several musical numbers felt as if they were there to pad the thin story. To be fair, the original songs were rather good but it sometimes made this comedy skirt too close to the musical genre, something I'm personally allergic to unless Tim Burton is somewhat involved. I think "Suck" would be a decent rental provided you have a few friends to watch it with interested in the subject material and/or knowing the (in)famous guest stars. I think young Twilight fans, perhaps sucked into renting it because of vampires, might be disappointed because the vampires are lame (they have powers but not really shown) and the little romance there is kinda sucks as either serious or parody.
Rating : 6 out of 10 (good)
mmmmmmmmk. I do love a good surprise and this film doesn't disappoint.
Keep in mind I'm not into all the goth, vampire, teen-angst-I-hate-my-
parents-and-desperately-need-attention-from-anyone scene, but this film
entertains throughout. It's well thought out and continues to flow
throughout with plenty of amusing tidbits and darker yet somehow still
light-hearted moments which will make just about anyone lolz. I
particularly enjoyed the direction and choice of cast here. Everyone
seemed to fit into their roles brilliantly, including all of the famous
rock n rollers from days of yore. Nice to see everyone is working and
keeping their sense of humor as opposed to overdosing and kicking off
way too early.
There are a lot of fun visuals going on in this movie which take the viewer on a journey deep into the minds of the characters, but pulling back just at the right time to make way for some genuinely humorous moments. The direction ranges anywhere from B to A at any given moment and transitions nicely between the two. Thankfully the B moments retain some brilliance as well saving them from being misguided and flat.
For someone who isn't that into this particular kind of music, I somehow managed to find my way through the audio tracks and ended up actually liking a few in the end. They are believable, at times heart-felt and yet hilarious when called for. This Is Your Brain On Drugs was particularly entertaining :)
I must say that Alex Lifeson is evolving into quite the actor! I've thoroughly enjoyed his stuff on the most recent RUSH dvds and it just keeps getting better and better. His scenes in this movie had me in tears laughing :)
I highly recommend this film to anyone who is into the whole vampire meets rock n roll thing with a twist of funny.
An struggling rock band, which they called themselves "The Winners".
The lead of the band, Joey (Rob Stefaniuk) is trying hard to find
success with his band. His bassist Jennifer (Jessica Paré) is also his
ex-girlfriend, guitarist (Paul Anthony), drummer (Mike Lobel) and their
french-Canadian roadie (Chris Ratz) along as well with their sleazy
manager (Dave Foley). They play music across Canada and the USA to keep
themselves together. Although the band mates are pushing in their 30's.
After an night of playing music in a bar, Jennifer finds herself bitten
by a mysterious vampire named Queenie (Dimitri Coats). Slowly the band
finally finds success with their music, although most people came for
Jennifer. Now she looks totally different with her Gothic looks and her
now alluring eyes. But there is an vampire hunter named Eddie Van
Helsing (Malcolm McDowell) is after the lead vampire Queenie and the
Written and Directed by Rob Stefaniuk (Phil the Alien) made an amusing, entertaining, black comedy with campy thrills and some humorous special effects. Stefaniuk is certainly good in the movie, Paré is eye candy in this movie but special credit goes to McDowell, who gives an fine performance as a Vampire Hunter, who is actually afraid of the dark! Stefaniuk displays some visual style. Rocker:Alice Cooper appears in a surprisingly good supporting role. While other rockers like Iggy Pop, Moby, Herny Rollins and Alex Lifeson are put to good use in their small parts.
DVD has an fine anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) transfer and an good Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. The DVD includes an 45 minutes documentary, interviews with the cast & crew. I would have love to hear an running commentary track by the director. Since this is an independent feature, it is well produced and well directed. For sure, "Suck" will certainly have an cult following. Clever use of old footage of a young Malcolm McDowell during an flashback sequence. (****/*****).
In Montreal, Joey (Rob Stefaniuk) is the lead singer of the struggling
band "The Winners", composed by the sexy bass singer Jennifer (Jessica
Paré), the guitarist Tyler (Paul Anthony), the drummer Sam (Mike Lobel)
and the handyman Hugo (Chris Ratz). Their incompetent and alcoholic
manager Jeff (Dave Foley) is incapable to help them to reach success
and they are on the road on tour playing in clubs and bars in Canada
and United States of America.
After a show in a bar in Montreal, Jennifer, who is also the Joey's former girlfriend, leaves the place with the creepy Queeny (Dimitri Coats), who is a vampire, and they spend the night together. On the next morning, Jennifer does not meet the band and they travel in their hearse to participate in a rock 'n' roll show without her. In the last moment, Jennifer arrives with a different appearance and on the next day they find that their home page had had several hits, all of them with good reviews and compliments to Jennifer. They become famous and Jennifer brings great audiences to the shows of "The Winners" and one by one, the musicians are turned into vampires but the reluctant Joey. "The Winners" become successful and Joey has a dream where he meets the bartender (Alice Cooper) of their show in Montreal in a crossroad and the man tells that he needs to decide whether he wants to be a winner or a loser. Meanwhile the vampire hunter Eddie Van Helsing (Malcolm McDowell) is hunting the vampire queen and tracking "The Winners" in their shows.
"Suck" is a refreshing vampire and rock 'n' roll cult movie with cameo of Alice Copper, Iggy Pop, Moby and Henry Rollins. But the greatest attraction is the sexy and gorgeous Jessica Paré with her luxurious lips and beautiful eyes. Chris Ratz is hilarious in the role of the handyman Hugo and Malcolm McDowell has also a great performance. But the originality of the story makes this film a worthwhile entertainment. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): Not Available
Suck may not be all that big and clever or quite as funny as some may
want it to be but it is consistently entertaining and also pretty
amusing if you have the sense of humour that I have (which, in my mind,
is a good one . . . . obviously).
It's all about a struggling band who are failing to set the music world alight until one of their number ends up bitten by a vampire. The lady (Jessica Pare) then begins to gain the attention of the fans and it's not long until all of the other band members want to find out the secret of her stage presence and get it for themselves. Meanwhile, Eddie Van Helsing (Malcolm McDowell) is on the case.
While it's not really scary enough for horror fans, this movie does have some fun moments of bloodletting and does go along with the traditional, cool style of vampirism.
The performances are all pretty good (alongside Pare we also get Rob Stefaniuk as Joey, the nominal leader of the band and the one most resistant to the radical change apparently required for success) and there are a few great star cameos here. Alice Cooper has a lot of fun, as does Henry Rollins, Iggy Pop is his Iggy-ness and Moby's appearance made me laugh quite a bit, despite how brief it was.
The "bad" vampires, to be honest, don't really make much of an appearance throughout the movie and fans of traditional, fanged fare may be disappointed but the movie simply breezes along with it's perfect pace and energy. More Spinal Tap than Lost Boys, the movie has lots of little gags strewn throughout that should amuse even if they don't cause belly laughs.
As well as starring in the movie, Rob Stefaniuk also wrote and directed the thing and when I found that out I was quite surprised because while the movie is clearly something a bit different from the norm and unique it's not the kind of thing that feels like some ego-driven pet project (are you listening Mr. Gallo??). I hope Mr. Stefaniuk gets some more movies made in the future and I hope they're all as entertaining as this one.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
WARNING! Major spoiler in next paragraph.
Late in the film "Suck" obnoxious radio DJ Rockin'Roger (Henry Rollins) makes a crack about the vampire rock band the Winners while he's interviewing them live. One of them replies, "Did you just say our band sucks?" The band proceeds to kill him while he's on the air! And what is the result? They get a million hits on their website - and become superstars!! I'm gonna make damn sure that what happened to Rockin' Roger doesn't happen to me.
This is one terrifically inventive genre mash. Director-writer-composer-star Rob Stefaniuk is a bundle of energy, a Michael J.Fox with spiked hair and attitude. He's assembled a great cast, starting with Liv Tyler lookalike Jessica Pare and including music legends Alex Lifeson (of Rush), Rollins, Moby (!), Iggy Pop, (!!) and Alice Cooper.(!!!)He's even got Malcolm McDowell as vampire hunter Eddie Van Helsing (not Van Halen.) And, thanks to McDowell, he's got footage from Lindsay Anderson's 1973 "O Lucky Man!" with a young McDowell worked seamlessly into the plot! And what a plot! There are even some subtle hints that the whole story could be a nightmare that Stefaniuk's lead singer is having. (Shades of "Laura" or "The Woman in the Window"!) The mixing of rock music and vampires is not new (see "The Vampire Lestat")but nobody has done as much with it as Stefaniuk does here. He does his own singing, too. And the music is, well, awesome.
This movie was well received at SXSW, and well it should be.
You heard it here first, baby. "Suck" doesn't!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Candy-colored(particular emphasis on blood red)cinematography and a
bang up cast highlight this vampire satire on the travails of an ailing
Canadian rock band, struggling still after ten years on the road,
rejuvenated when one among them is turned into a bloodsucker after a
gig one night.
Joey's base guitarist(and ex-girlfriend), Jennifer(Jessica Paré), decides to accompany a "queen vampire" to a party which is essentially a gathering of the undead, decadently attired as if from the Victorian period. When Jennifer returns a vamp, the band's stage show actually attracts a fervent following, word of mouth about them spreading across the internet like a firestorm.
Well, soon members of the band(Paul Anthony and Mike Lobel)coerce Jennifer into turning them into vampires as well hurling Joey(Rob Stefaniuk, the writer, director, and star who also wrote most of the music!)into a crisis as numerous victims start turning up while on their road tour to New York City for the "big show", supposedly to contain "movers and shakers" who might can finally give them some much needed success.
Alice Cooper(as a vampire bartender who attempts to convince Joey that vampirism is the way to go), Iggy Pop(as a tired former rocker, whose studio Joey uses to record Jennifer's new song she has written, warning of the dangers to come for this band), Henry Rollins(as an insulting, loud-mouthed, self-absorbed DJ who speaks of himself in the Third person and belittles bands who enter his radio station paying the price for his rudeness)and Dave Foley(KIDS IN THE HALL; as the band's manager who dumps them, a leech who returns, of course, once they gain a reputation)all have supporting parts which will draw interest to SUCK from horror fans. Moby, of all people, portrays the lead singer of "the biggest road band in Buffalo", the "Confederates of Steak", whose devoted fans pelt their stage at shows with bloody meat(!), an egotistical and foul type of wannabe rock god who doesn't ingratiate himself to the Winners(the name of Joey's band)with much class. His fate is more than a bit ironic considering the persona of his band. Malcolm McDowell, as Eddie Van Helsing(Hell yeah!), is good fun as a vampire hunter(afraid of the dark!)with an eye patch following the Winners so he can question the whereabouts of the one who turned Jennifer, Dimitri Coats(known simply as Queeny), responsible for supposedly killing his gal back in the 70s.
Some funny dialogue derives from munching on body parts(and a groupie!)and blood sucking, not to mention the unfortunate trials of life on the road with a band who have become weary after a long time of disappointment. Some interesting art direction and stop motion animation; a superb neck slashing and the use of a guitar to impale a vampire(!)are included. To tell you the truth, SUCK is mostly a series of music videos, shot in slow motion and bright colors, intercut with dialogue scenes. My favorite scene, which doesn't involve Cooper or Pop, is the hallucinatory music number where Joey falls under the spell of "magic pills". The names in the cast aren't just throwaway cameos which is nice, and they actually contribute even more on the interview documentary of the film on it's DVD. Paré is striking even in pale skin and strange eye contacts, often shot in slo-mo up close to capture her allure and Gothic beauty. Coats, albeit in a smaller part, is quite a creepy presence when he does appear on screen.
Can a semi-musical vampire movie with a comedic twist ever be good? Rob
Stefaniuk proves it can! This Canadian movie starring Rob Stefaniuk and
Jessica Pare (... oh wait, you don't know who they are? How about Alice
Cooper, Moby, Henry Rollins and Iggy Pop ? They are all in this) mixes
all of the things above into a perfect union. I find it hard to
describe it without comparing it to other things. It feels like the
original Lost Boys found Interview with a Vampire, it looks like a
Queens of the Stone Age video, it sounds like a rock concert and the
jokes are tasteful and they relate to things without parody, but only
Bottom line: too cool for words, this film is not even about vampires. The undead condition is only a metaphor for the seduction of success. Best quote: "I'm just here to set you free... again.". It just proves that a good idea and a lot of spirit can make a movie great without the need for explosions and naked women. Watch it! Now!
For those not into the Twilight genre of pretend vampire movies, this
is an interesting film from Canada.
The band sucks, and so does someone else. The second sucking will cure the first.
Rock legends Alice Cooper, Moby, and Iggy Pop contribute to the fun, which also includes cartoon scenes interspersed throughout.
And, what would be a vampire movie without Van Helsing. Malcolm McDowell fills that role splendidly.
More yucks than gore. So, it is really a very soft R, almost a PG-13. Put drugs in a film and it overrides everything else.
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