You know how it is, you're a Bruce Campbell fan too. You'll watch anything he's ever done just because he's in it and then say, "Well, the movie wasn't all that great, but at least Bruce was good." Yeah, Bruce is always good. He's one of those rare universal constants you're always hearing about--like death and taxes, only more fun. He's so good most of the time that you'll add a star or two to your review just because he was there! But now its happened! I can finally say that Bruce was good, and I REALLY LIKED THE MOVIE TOO! Okay, so I'm being silly, but I was so charmed by Anthony Hickox's horror/comedy flick SUNDOWN that I still haven't got my head on straight. And after all these years it's finally available on DVD!
Our story centers around the Harrison family. David (played by Jim Meltzer) is an engineer who has developed a machine that can synthesize blood. Morgan Brittany is his beautiful wife Sarah who has a naughty little secret that just might come out soon, and Gwen and Julie are their two overly precious children. Gwen is a bit weird, likes horror movies, and has dreams which might foretell the future.
When we first encounter the Harrisons they are on their way to a town appropriately called Purgatory for a combination family vacation/business trip. It seems that the blood synthesizer being installed in Purgatory has developed some serious glitches and David's long time friend and colleague, Shane, has called David in to help straighten things out.
Enter Bruce Campbell. About 20 minutes into the picture. This isn't a big part, but that doesn't keep Bruce from stealing the movie. He plays a sort of sweet, nerdy, academic type whose car breaks down while he, too, is looking for Purgatory. When he finally gets there the first person he encounters is Sandy White (played by Deborah Foreman) who's a waitress at the local diner and it's obviously love at first sight as far as she's concerned.
There are other characters hanging around the town of Purgatory. For example there's David's afore-mentioned old buddy Shane (played by Maxwell Caulfield) who seems to have a rather unhealthy interest in both David's wife and his daughter Gwen. And there's Count Mardulak (David Carradine) who owns everything in the town, likes to sleep in a coffin, and is also the object of Bruce Campbell's obsession. And just on the periphery of all this is the mysterious Ethan Jefferson (John Ireland) who definitely seems to be up to no good.
Did I mention that Bruce's character's name is Robert Van Helsing?
There are a lot of laughs along the way, but at the conclusion of the film the Ultimate Showdown between Good and Evil is one that I've never quite seen before and I appreciated the originality. When you aren't really certain if your hero is gonna have a gunfight or a throwdown or whatever in order to beat the villain, I'd say the writer is doing his job! I'd recommend this film to anyone who likes to laugh and appreciates something a bit different now and then.
SUNDOWN THE VAMPIRE IN RETREAT
Directed by Anthony Hickox
Prod. by Jefferson Richard
Written by John Burgess and Anthony Hickox From a story by John Burgess
Starring: Jim Meltzer, Morgan Brittany, Bruce Campbell, David Carradine, Maxwell Caulfield, Deborah Foreman, M. Emmet Walsh, John Ireland, JohnHancock,Bert Remsury, Sunshine Parker, Marion Eaton, Dabbs Greer, Erin Courlay, Vanessa Pierson
Make-up: Tony Gardner.