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DVD Review

DVD cover

Fanged Up


Starring: Daniel O'Reilly, Danielle Harold, Stu Bennet, Vas Balckwood, Stephen Marcus and Steven Berkoff
Distributor: Altitude Film Entertainment
Certificate: 18
Release Date: 30 July 2018

When ducker and diver Jimmy Ragsdale gets carted off by the police for making an accidental nuisance of himself in a club, he gets remanded in custody - supposedly just over the weekend – at a notoriously dark prison (‘May God have mercy on your soul!’). He is put in a cell with Victor, a giant Russian who, after an edgy start, instructs him to hit the meanest brute in order to create his status. After making the mistake of hitting the Russian first, he mistakenly hits the wrong person and is thrown into a basement cell with a not-so-mysteriously-hooded figure who tells Jamie a crazy story about vampires and bloodlust running the prison on the eve of the blood moon, when a ceremony will take place. Is he crazy or telling the truth? Well … both, as it turns out...

When I first saw the film title I couldn’t believe how corny it was. Then, when I realised it was set in a prison, I still thought it was corny, but at least I understood the reasoning behind it. This is a home-grown movie directed by Christian James, who directed Freak Out (which I reviewed back in 2006) and Stalled (which is repeated to death on the Horror channel). I expected this film to be silly, and it is in some respects. However, what makes the limited plot work so well is it’s character-driven. I don’t care that the prison governor is an ancient vampire who needs to copulate with the young doctor at the height of the blood moon. What I do care about is the handful of main players and how they interact with each other.

Daniel O’Reilly plays Jimmy as a common but uncertain extrovert, who bumbles along from one mishap or disaster to another. Katie, a pretty and studious blonde – who, coincidentally, also happens to be Jimmy’s ex-girlfriend – is the prison doctor. Stu Bennett is Victor, the Russian fellow inmate. Reeves is the monk-like enigmatic soothsayer wannabe. He tries to be mysterious and all-knowing but constantly shows himself up to be flawed and somewhat accident prone. Shifty is a thickset black gay guy who is in prison because of his unusual weakness. Jimmy: ‘What are you doing here? You don’t seem the type.’ Shifty: ‘I raised funds for Save the Hedgehogs – and kept them.’ Jimmy: ‘What, the funds?’ Shifty: ‘No, the hedgehogs.’

As you might have guessed already, Fanged Up is a humorous romp. Nothing that will leave you helpless and pleading on the floor, but it’s likely to keep you amused. It seems all the main characters are pretending to be something they’re not, just to protect their true self. They are well fleshed-out, without requiring much of a backstory. The moment they are all together and attempting to escape the film comes alive even more, and you’re rather sad when some of them end up being killed. This is a logical progression from Freak Out and Stalled, so I’ll be interested to see what Christian James comes up with next.


Ty Power

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