Plot: A struggling rock band finds unlikely success when their beautiful bass player (Jessica Paré) is turned into a vampire. When word of this newly undead band begins to leak out, a vampire hunter- Eddie Van Helsing (Malcolm McDowell) gives chase, hoping they’ll lead him to the vampire that killed his wife.
Review: SUCK is yet another Canadian contribution to the Fantasia line-up at this year’s festival. The film actually premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last year, but I was unable to catch it. Since then, it’s built up some solid buzz, even securing a US DVD release (it comes out in September). However, here in its native Canada- the film has pretty much sat on the shelf since TIFF, which is a shameful comment about the distribution of homegrown films in Canada, as SUCK is a really fun little horror flick with a twist: it’s a musical.
That’s right, SUCK is a horror musical, albeit less so than the recent REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA. It’s actually more like the obscure Vampire musical, ROCKULA- but, you know-good.
SUCK is the brainchild of triple threat writer/director/star, Rob Stefaniuk- who plays the lead singer of The Winners- a rock band that’s been touring for a decade, but has yet to achieve even a modicum of success. That all changes once the bass player Jennifer (played by the unspeakably gorgeous, and surprisingly funny Jessica Paré) is turned into a vampire by douch-baggy vampire Queeny (Dimitri Coates), who’s prone to breaking out into song at the slightest provocation.
Word begins to spread about the sexy vampire bassist, and, one-by –one, the rest of the band begins to vamp out. Meanwhile, the French Canadian roadie- Hugo (played by the hilarious Chris Ratz) becomes the de-facto Renfield, and helps them dispose of their various victims, including an abrasive radio DJ, played by the always awesome Henry Rollins. Malcolm McDowell is terrific as the vampire hunter Eddie Van Helsing (get it?) who’s in hot pursuit of the band. In a clever twist, McDowell’s character is shown in his younger days by Stefaniuk’s inspired use of footage from O LUCKY MAN! McDowell shows off a surprising flair for comedy, and judging from some of the funny outtakes show during the credits, seems to be having the time of his life as Van Helsing.
McDowell’s not the only big name Stefaniuk and co., managed to land for SUCK, with loads of rock icons showing up in bit parts. Alice Cooper probably has the biggest role, as Stefaniuk’s spiritual guide (shades of the fake Jim Morrison in WAYNE’S WORLD 2), while Iggy Pop also puts in an appearance as the band’s studio producer, who’s had past dealings with the undead (as Pop has likely had in real life too!). We also get Rush’s Alex Lifeson as a border guard, he arguably got the film’s biggest laugh during a short, inspired scene with McDowell. Mr. Vegan himself,- Moby, also pops up in an amusing cameo as the lead singer of a heavy metal group called Steak, who likes to be pelted with raw meat during each performance. Also keep an eye out for ex-Kids in the Hall’er Dave Foley, as The Winners’ drunken manager, who’s only too happy to supply his new stars with fresh groupies to devour.
Overall I really dug SUCK, and if it had gotten some kind of release in Canada, it could have picked up a cult following. Unlike REPO!, the music here’s actually pretty good- although it does have a distinctly early nineties sound that might keep the film from catching on with younger audiences, but worked well enough for me. Once it hits DVD, I’ll definitely be adding SUCK to my collection, and if you’re looking for a fun vampire comedy with more in common with THE LOST BOYS, than TWILIGHT, you should give this a look.