DVD Apocrypha

DVD Apocrypha
DVD Apocrypha

Run time: 104 min
Rating: 4.2
Genres: Drama | Horror | Mystery
Director: Michael Fredianelli
Writers: Michael Fredianelli, Kat Reichmuth
Stars: Kat Reichmuth, Michael Fredianelli, Ray Medved
Griffith Townsend (Michael Fredianelli) enjoys a successful career as senior editor at the San Francisco Chronicle with only one problem: he is plagued with amnesia. With the help of a washed-up psychologist (Ray Medved), he reluctantly unearths a number of odd habits which can only be described as unnatural and bizarre. Meanwhile, a strange woman, Maggie (Kat Reichmuth), awakens in Golden Gate Park with no recollections of how she arrived. Enlisting the aid of a friendly social worker (William McMichael) and local gypsy (Selenia Mason), she slowly begins to recall her true identity. With an increasing and unexpected desire consuming her, it becomes clear that Griffith and Maggie’s new obsessions may be more than just memory loss as they become a dangerous and deadly threat to the city and each other. Written by Anonymous
Plot Keywords: amnesia, blood, vampire
Country: USA
Release Date: 11 June 2011 (USA)


  1. Despite the lukewarm response from people adverse to vampire films, I found this glass cleaner filtered flick one of Fredianelli's more solid efforts, with a few big problems that probably could have been fixed with another pass at the script. An editor for the San Francisco Chronicle suddenly finds himself getting a boner over the idea of sucking blood (a hemosexual, if you will) and we follow his descent into savagery as he fights against giving into his most base desires. Meanwhile, a gal with amnesia wakes up in a park somewhere with the same thirst. For some strange reason, a guy lets her live with him, supports her and even registers her for classes, and yet he never tries to get himself a piece of that amnesiac ass. Was he a gay? And if so, don't you think including two mythological beasts in one film is a little cluttered? Eventually the two hemogoblins meet up and all is revealed with some clunky expository flashbacks, along with a sudden, last minute explanation on how to stop the vampire curse. Along with the roommate's murky motivations and the tacked-on resolution, the film's biggest head scratcher is the editor's sudden turn from a conflicted man trying to suppress an insatiable thirst for blood to an amoral killer and devourer of chubby girls. A more nuanced slide into evil would've been more interesting, and some guilt on his part would've gone a long way too. Overall, the film has a good, professional look and some suspenseful kills, but more gore, nudity and character motivation were needed to truly overcome the convenient plot contrivances.

  2. When I heard about Fredianelli doing a vampire movie, I knew it wasn't gonna be no TWILIGHT (despite the box-art's similar look and feel). What we get is a decent enough, if over-top drama. Sure there are vampires and supernatural stuff and what-not, but some of it just seems a little far-fetched/unrealistic for my tastes (for instance a therapist that swears and takes swigs of alcohol in front of his patients of whom he willingly takes appointments from at his rather up-scale home). Still, the film is grounded enough in reality (a lot of similar head-scratching or implausible moments can be blamed on budget constraints) and the film deals with the subject of vampires in a unique enough and un-glamorized fashion. At times the movie even openly references and mocks vampire movies (TWILIGHT included) in a way that seems clever and fresh.

    Technically, the film is well put together and boasts great cinematography (even if the vignette effects appears a little overused) and good music score. Performances are somewhat of a mixed bag with some of the more minor actresses coming off as really in-genuine. Most of the leads do OK, but Ray Medved and Michael Fredianelli shine in their interactions together. I see a bright future for newcomer Diesel who excels as Yasha the fortune teller's bright ward.

    Overall, APOCRYPHA is a well made indie and a decent enough take on the vampire genre.

  3. Blurbing a vampire movie is as challenging a task as expecting fat Harry Knowles to attend a premiere without supplying 3,000 live chickens, six salad bars, and at least eight wedding cakes. Because I hate vampire movies. Director Michael Fredianelli lays on the obligatory necrophiliac cum erotic atmosphere and the polarized color schemes of your average Cure fan-club, but, unlike most noxious vampire flicks, there's some humor–likely a big curiosity or flaw to most vampire movie fans. There's also good supporting performances and some beautiful yet uneven photography. The movie's clothed sex scenes are left unexplained. As far as the vampirism as addiction/sexual compulsion themes go, I ain't buying that bullsh-t and never have. It was a cool metaphor about 56 years ago, but I think Abel Ferrara already covered it in "The Addiction". Or Kathryn Bigelow in 1987's "Near Dark", for that matter.

    The movie's male and female protagonists, sort of thwarted-by-vampire-time-warp-lovers, search for each other in deviant San Francisco while struggling with their groggy identities. Yet the two are more interesting for their flaws. Griffith (the content therapy-patient blood-sucker) is obnoxious and a male chauvinist who smirks at his date, "you got a bit of a paunch", and Maggie (the bewildered therapy patient bloodsucker) must be cinema's first slacker to bite innocent humans and also talk like a vampire who smokes too much dirt-weed. Both Fredianelli and Kat Reichmuth, as the doomed couple, are glamorous and appealing, and the flattering photography renders them vampire print models straight out of a San Francisco in-flight magazine. Still, the script asks a lot: Griffith earns a six-figure salary as senior editor at The Chronicle yet he's barely at work, and his office resembles more the headquarters of an arts weekly. Maggie lands a caretaker who works at an offscreen homeless shelter, and yet we don't get so much as one vampire hobo? This far-fetched room-mate relationship only becomes more humorous as Maggie starts to impose more and more on her host, eventually becoming a pest. Even after she bites the guy, he lets her back in.

    Once the supporting cast of Maggie's unlucky room-mate, a lycanthrope-haired yuppie named Jan, Griffith's bourbon swigging psychiatrist, and a geekish club DJ enter the scene, the rather transparent plot benefits from the acting. Other small roles are memorable, a confrontational, knife-wielding victim at a bus stop and an awesome storekeeper.

    Production-wise, the vignetting becomes annoying, especially during the scenes involving the movie's mystic sorceress and her cat.

    Impressive flashback scenes offer not only costuming and change in locations, but highlight a beautiful woman actually buried alive and emerging from soil.

    There's plenty of decent characterization scenes between the two vampires, especially during their "courtship" over the necessity of killing. It's just too bad the vampires don't meet up earlier in the story, as their conflict is interesting and suspenseful without the build-up.

    An excellent chase and murder scene in a newspaper office works well, though the film suffers from some missed opportunity gore that would otherwise satisfy your average Fangoria fan. Another fist-fight between Jan and Griffith is properly bone-crunching and satisfactory, mostly because the room-mate's smarmy character, despite all his generosity (and hair), is due an even more cathartic demise than the buggy-eyed DJ guy.

    Music score sounds like some 1979 disco-era Giorgio Moroder, with a few synthy stingers and groans thrown in for good measure, but is mostly redundant. It definitely doesn't live up to the film's haunting opening theme.

    Lots of great noirish lighting and striking exteriors are sometimes awkwardly coupled with scenes that, let's just say, contrast. Poor stunt coordination mars what should be a shocking scene of violence involving the vampires' final confrontation, more because a three-foot stake isn't the most concealable weapon. Still, John Carpenter would be proud of the movie's bleak twist ending, and possibly David Cronenberg, as well, considering it mirrors the climax to his "Rabid". Overall, a must-see for vampire fans, at least those who like to see some unique twists applied to the usual melodramatic stereotypes.

  4. Little known but pertinent fact: Apocrypha director Michael Fredinelli is related to Tony Fredianelli, a guitarist whose most prominent gig was in Third Eye Blind but whose real work happened in the late 80s as the guitarist for a speed metal outfit called, jeez, Apocrypha. Now, allegory's the cheapest form of analysis, but considering the movie's focus on the landscapes and destroyed minds of California, we could easily see the movie's exercises in style as a knowing chastisement for sell-outs.

    The common intertexts for the film seem to be somewhere between Martin and The Addiction. But I'd make a wager that the director will likely find annoying and say that Twilight's the key intertext. That's not to say that Fredianelli and Reichmuth's script apes that series' Teen Heart Street logic. But no one can deny that the use of color correction here definitely echoes the cinematography in that run of recent Pacific Northwest vampire movies. The thing is, though, this movie doesn't take place in the Pacific Northwest, and that makes all the difference. The characters profess an aversion to the sun, but a pair of shades helps the situation. It's almost as though these characters have seen too much sun, have been around a crumbling culture of go-getters so long that their vision, along with their behavior, has been irrevocably turned as a result.

    The movie's slow build in its first half hour allows for these kinds of reflections, but in terms of narrative, we meet with the most polished yet of Wild Dogs' classically-focused efforts. The ebb and flow of the narrative works well here, supplying the familiarities of the genre with the occasional shift in approach. There are some stock elements that fall flat (the fortune teller business seemed particularly convenient to connect disparate plot elements, and the CG is obviously a bit limited (about half of the scenes with vampire ephemera are effective; those with CG eyes end up being a tid silly by default). If nothing else, we can see Apocrypha as navigating a very tricky balance (that same tricky balance that Hawks, Fuller, Ray, Peckinpah, and others tried) riding between a hyper-codified classical aesthetic and interstices of personal investment. It may be far from Fredianelli's masterpiece, but in terms of expressing a state of being, we can see here a singular talent at work at a very particular moment in both popular culture and, in a sense, in the development of a directorial personality.

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