10/10
Jac Avila's Dead but Dreaming does for Vampire Films what Coppola's Apocalypse Now did for War Movies
17 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Jac Avila's Dead but Dreaming does for Vampire Films what Coppola's Apocalypse Now did for War Movies...transforms entertaining and traditionally horrific stories into beautiful works of epic art. I liked this film because it was not like any other Vampire Film I've ever seen, and I've seen bunches. I enjoyed my first Vampire film before age ten, scared me silly, gave me nightmares afterward. So, of course, I needed to know more. I read books! Stoker's Dracula, Matheson's I Am Legend, Sturgeon's Some of Your Blood, Ornella Volta's The Vampire, Bernard J. Hurwood's Terror by Night, McNally's and Florescue's In Search of Dracula, on and on, until finally, not satisfied with any explanation about how Dracula became a Vampire, I wrote a novel to explain it, I Am Dracula, published in 1983. I say all this to explain that I'm not just a fresh off the street Vampire fancier, in the hopes it will add weight to my opinion about Avila's Dead but Dreaming.

DBD is an entertaining film for many reasons, and your reasons will probably differ from mine. But for me, I appreciated the way the movie kept surprising me. Avila's serious yet playful Vampires enthralled me with their originality. I would ordinarily assume a filmmaker who "got it wrong," with regard to Vampire traditions in film, simply didn't know what he was doing. But the way Avila handled breaking the rules came across instead as if maybe he knew a secret truth and got it right while everyone else got it wrong, because Avila's Vampires helped me regain that otherworldly feeling I associated with Vampires when I started studying them as a kid.

The acting by Amy Hesketh, recently featured in Fangoria, Victoria Paintoux, Mila Joya, and Avila himself as a kind of Vampire God, are all quite suitably creepy and excellent. The dialog, at times grimly humorous, as between Hesketh and Paintoux following Hesketh's pre-execution flogging, was slapping your leg and barking an unexpected laugh, delightful.

This was the first Vampire film ever made in Bolivia, by the way. Some of the magnificent Bolivian vistas took me back to the sweeping landscapes in my favorite Leone western, Once Upon a Time in the West. But this will not be Bolivia's last Vampire film. Avila has announced plans for Dead but Dreaming to be but the first of a trilogy about his Vampires. And Hesketh is already shooting her own movie in Bolivia about a family of Vampires, Olalla, based on a Robert Louis Stevenson story. Maybe La Paz will become the Center for Creative Vampire Entertainments. Or, after Dead but Dreaming, maybe it already is!
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