Saturday, July 28, 2012

DEAD CERT (2010)

Freddie is a London gangster that wants to give up the life and earn an honest living. By “honest living”, I mean running a strip club. I know that’s not the kind of job that regular people have, but it’s perfectly admirable for a tough gangster weaning himself off of selling drugs and shooting people in the back of the head or whatever it is he did previously. It’s sort of like how someone might quit heroin and instead choose to smoke cigarettes for the rest of their life. 

Anyway, Freddie also runs an underground fight club, which I assume isn’t legal, particularly because it involves gambling. I’ll go ahead and give Freddie the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s using profits from the fight club to get his strip club off the ground and spruce it up a bit; maybe get some exploding nipple tassels for the ladies. It shouldn’t take him too long to acquire the money he needs. In this day and age, you can get the word out quickly about your fight club through social media, and pretty soon you’ll be raking in the cash. 

Well, as luck would have it, some Romanian gangsters REALLY want to buy the strip club. Of course, they make Freddie an offer he can’t refuse. Namely, they want to set up a fight between Freddie’s toughest fighter (his brother-in-law Dennis) and the toughest fighter from the Romanian gang. If Dennis wins, Freddie gets several million pounds (which is like a billion dollars in U.S. money), and if the Romanian wins, they get the club. We all know Romanians can’t fight, right? I’d think Jimmy the Greek would agree that placing that bet would be “like printing money”. However, not only does Dennis lose the fight, but he gets his ass beat so badly he dies. I don’t know all the rules of fight club, but “not killing a dude” is probably on there somewhere. 

In fairness to Dennis, the Romanian dude was a vampire, just as the other Romanian gangsters are vampires. Vampires, as you well know, have super strength, which is why fight clubs should make a rule that says “no vampires allowed”. If you’re wondering why vampires would so desperately want to own a strip club, it has something to do with it being built on a burial ground. As a side benefit, they get to turn regular strippers into vampire strippers, and we all know how rad vampire strippers are. 

So, some Van Helsing type character (poor Steven Berkoff) warns Freddie that the Romanians are indeed vampires, and eventually joins him and his toughs (very eventually) to raid the strip club and take it back. However, I don’t know how that would work as far as the paperwork goes. I’d hate to see them kill all the vampires but get overruled in court. 

Dead Cert is essentially a variation on From Dusk Till Dawn. Instead of a bank robbery, we have the inner workings of a gang. However, Dead Cert is structurally a mess. I guess the idea was to present a “Goodfellas”-lite look at some London gangsters, and then later introduce the horror elements once this world is set up. However, the script feels vague, and the bulk of the movie becomes a series of aimless conversations between gangsters where the structure of their relationships to one another are fuzzy, as are the details of this criminal “underworld”. We are supposed to be drawn into Freddie’s world and surrounding characters, but the script doesn’t work on a basic dramatic level, so it becomes a series of dialogue scenes featuring people you don’t give a shit about. 

The vampire element is both unsurprising and forced. If I was actually buying into the story, it might have been ruined by the ridiculous forced conflict with the vampires and the burial ground and the fight. When we get to the actual showdown, it’s 10 minutes of our heroes arguing in the basement of the club, and then a lackadaisical 10 minute fight and then it’s over. The vampire element mostly operates as the third act of a gangster movie, rather than From Dusk Till Dawn, which sets up in the 1st act that it’s going to be one thing and then turns into something else. 

I never thought that gangsters fighting vampire strippers would be boring, but this movie feels like someone wanted to make a serious gangster movie, but was then forced into including a vampire element in order to be commercial. The results are a movie that achieves neither, and not because these elements necessarily couldn’t fit together. I am reminded of John Landis’ Innocent Blood, which took a gangster world and integrated a vampire element. However, Innocent Blood was funny, where as Dead Cert isn’t. Maybe vampire strippers shouldn’t be taken so seriously. No, I take that back. It’s mainly a problem of execution. I think a dramatic story about a vampire stripper could be riveting. Even if it isn’t, at least you get to see a hot vampire chick naked for half the movie. You know, I’m casting too wide a net once again. How about not being fucking boring? That’s a good rule of thumb I guess.  You can go ahead and include that as one of the rules of fight club too, if you plan on ever starting a fight club.  You're welcome. 

P.S. This was written as part of "Project Terrible", hosted by Mondo Bizarro.  This movie was chosen by Maynard Morrissey, who has a Horror Movie Diary here.  Check 'em out!

1 comment:

  1. Ha, I knew you would hate it :)
    Seriously, the basic concept is quite cool and I'm sure the movie could have been decent - but with a different director, a different script, different actors and a different crew :)