Newest Reviews
Flag Day
Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster
Nest, The
Martin Eden
Halloween Kills
Sun Shines Bright, The
Last Thing Mary Saw, The
Mon Oncle d'Amerique
Wild Strawberries
Runner, The
Don't Look Up
Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Forever Purge, The
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Legend of La Llorona, The
Perdita Durango
Commando, The
Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror
Boiling Point
Deadly Games
Voyeurs, The
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
In the Earth
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Hotel Poseidon
No Time to Die
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Power of the Dog, The
Newest Articles
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
Vestron Double Bill: Dementia 13 and The Wraith
Farewell Dean Stockwell: His Years of Weirdness
Kung Fu Craft: Cinematic Vengeance! on Blu-ray
999 Letsbe Avenue: Gideon's Way on Blu-ray
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
  Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat Out For Blood
Year: 1989
Director: Anthony Hickox
Stars: David Carradine, Morgan Brittany, Bruce Campbell, Jim Metzler, Maxwell Caulfield, Deborah Foreman, M. Emmet Walsh, John Ireland, Dana Ashbrook, John Hancock, Marion Eaton, Dabbs Greer, Bert Remsen, Sunshine Parker, Helena Carroll, Elizabeth Gracen
Genre: Horror, Western, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: David (Jim Metzler) is a top chemist who is pioneering the use of synthetic blood for operations and transfusions under his own unique design, and has received a call to head off to a research lab in the middle of nowhere to pursue this with a company that have expressed an interest. This company run the smalltown where they are situated, and word has gotten round the locals about this new arrival, who has taken his wife Susan (Morgan Brittany) and two young daughters with him on the trip. However, at the gas station just outside of town, the three owners sit on a swing chair patiently awaiting him, with only a little decapitation to amuse them...

Well, the guy one of their number, M. Emmet Walsh, cuts the head off of with one karate chop was a total yuppie asshole, this being the tail end of the nineteen-eighties when legendary distributor of the decade Vestron chose to release it. This was a mistake, as it was the final nail in the coffin of their enterprise and they went out of business shortly after, though latterly they endured to rerelease their product (and others) on home entertainment, aiming squarely at the nostalgia market with deluxe Blu-rays (containing extras for the fans). Not the worst way for a company synonymous in the eighties with the video rental stores of the decade, and a way of keeping many titles alive.

Whether Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat had a huge potential audience was debatable, mind you - audiences did not particularly want to see it back in 1989, not in their masses, anyway. Famously, Vestron passed on Earth Girls are Easy to put it out instead, and that genuinely is a cult movie, so if this can be described with the cult label, it was for a small amount of aficionados. Nevertheless, if you wanted to try an eccentric, if somewhat pandering, comedy horror that for some reason turns into a Western in the last act, then you could do a lot worse than what director and co-writer Anthony Hickox dreamt up for this, all being revealed when the credits tell us it was dedicated to his father.

Hickox's father was Douglas Hickox, who was also a director (Theatre of Blood is one of his), and a huge Western fan, so you could tell this was pulling in two directions: the horror that Anthony loved and the oaters that his dad preferred. Actually, it was pulling in three directions, because it was attempting to be funny as well; it wasn't going to prompt many belly laughs, that much was clear, thanks to the humour being more suitable for a kids' TV show than anything more sophisticated, and in the early stages as the story took far too long to work itself out you may be wondering if this was worth persevering with. There was simply too much going on in that opening half hour to focus on any one character as our hero. As well as Metzler, there was Bruce Campbell, fresh off Evil Dead II, who played a descendant of Dr Van Helsing, the man who had known all there was to know about beating Count Dracula, and believes he has tracked him down at last.

If that were true, what was David Carradine doing following in his father's footsteps by playing a vampire, as Count Mardulak? He appears halfway through in another try at making a hero role for this film, to join Dana Ashbrook, pre-Twin Peaks, as a teen who could blow the lid off the town of bloodsuckers, or Deborah Foreman, well into her cult eighties stardom, drawing the eye as a waitress who happens to be a decent vampire. Even the little kids could have fit the protagonist role here. Really, it needed another run through of the script to tighten it up and discern where its strengths lay, which turned out to be the Western business: once a limited civil war breaks out between pro-synthetic blood and anti, this gets quite good and the action flick shenanigans are pretty successful. But there was too much to comfortably get behind - Maxwell Caulfiield and John Ireland as boo-hiss villains, for instance - for this to be judged wholly effective, despite containing elements that appealed. Music by Richard Stone (who goes full on The Big Country).

[As mentioned, loads of extras on the Vestron Blu-ray, see below:

Audio Commentary with Director Anthony Hickox and Director of Photography Levie Isaacks
Isolated Score Selections and Audio Interviews with Music Historian Randall Larson and Producer Jefferson Richard
Wild Weird West - An Interview with Director Anthony Hickox
Bloodsuckers from Purgatory - An Interview with Special Make-up Effects Creator Tony Gardner
Memories of Moab - An Interview with Actor Bruce Campbell
A Vampire Reformed - An Interview with Actor David Carradine
A True Character - An Interview with Actor M. Emmet Walsh
Theatrical Trailer
Still Gallery.

Dementia 13, The Wraith and Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat are on Blu-ray 15 November 2021 from Lionsgate UK.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 385 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt


Last Updated: