A strange little find, DARK TOWN is one of those quirky low budget horror flicks that tries hard to make the most of what it has. Sometimes it overreaches, but often it hits its target. A story of urban vampires converging on a home in a blackout, DARK TOWN is a frequently incoherent film that rarely makes any sense. Yet, it’s strangely watchable and has more than its fair share of gratuitous gore and nudity to keep one’s attention. Normally I don’t find vampires very scary, and this case is no exception, but I still couldn’t take my eyes off of this movie.
Set in the slums of a rundown L.A. neighborhood, DARK TOWN opens with slimey white landlord Curtis Armstrong finding a strange little creature who resembles a girl in one of his buildings. She attacks him, and as far as we know, that’s the end of Curtis. Or is it…? (cue evil laughter) Back at home, Curtis’ wife sets up a surprise birthday party for him. It becomes clear pretty early that this is a dysfunctional family.
First, there is the daughter dating a black member of a local gang (he just escapes a shootout before the party). Then there is the son and his extremely annoying pregnant wife. Finally there is the third daughter, Jen, a lesbian in an intense sexual relationship with another woman. Jen, of course, is conflicted about introducing her lover to the family, much to her lover’s annoyance. After a very unnecessary (read: essential) lesbian romp in the hay, Jen agrees to bring her girlfriend to the birthday party.
So all these various characters come together at the Armstrong home, just in time for a black-out. That’s right, lights, phones, all electricity goes down and they have nowhere to go. I recommend they try hopping in a car and driving to Beverly Hills next time. Anyhow, the family spends a few minutes trying to get along when Curtis shows up. Curtis is, of course, now a vampire, but he’s still a shmuck too. Before long he’s turned much of his family into vampires – even his pregnant daughter-in-law! A local gang member, Rakeem, finds his way into the home and before long finds himself alone with Jen in the house, fighting off cannibalistic vampires who do more than suck blood, but in fact chow down on their victims.
That’s about as coherent a plot summary as I can come up with, because I really couldn’t figure out who was who and what exactly was happening as the film progressed. What I could figure out was that this was a horror movie that aimed to deliver the goods, and by goods I mean nudity and gore. Along with plenty of humor and not-so-subtle social commentary along the way (i.e. kill the whitey), DARK TOWN manages to entertain for its 80-minute length. Not anything you need to run out and rent, but if it’s on cable, check it out.
RATING: *** (out of four)