Fight promoter Freddy ‘Dead Cert’ Frankham (Craig Fairbrass) organizes underground tournaments but with his wife Jen (Lisa McAllister) anxious to get pregnant, he branches into a seemingly safer venture by opening a lap dancing club called ‘Paradise’ aided by his criminal brother-in-law Eddie Christian (Dexter Fletcher). Amidst loud techno and sexily gyrating strippers, few notice a serial killer is prowling their district. Meanwhile, Eddie wants to get in on a new street drug called ‘Bliss’ being offered by Romanian crime boss Dante Livenko (Billy Murray), who has designs on Freddy’s club. Livenko offers £2 million if Freddy’s prize fighter/younger brother-in-law Danny Christian (Danny Midwinter) can beat his hulking champion in the ring, or else hand over the club. Hitherto unbeaten Danny is beaten to a pulp then bitten in the neck. That’s right, Livenko and company are vampires! Once they’ve drenched the club in hellish red lighting, they promptly vampirize all the strippers gaining the perfect means to lure an unending food supply.
Co-writer/director Steven Lawson evidently reckons British gangster flicks and vampire movies are the cinematic equivalent of peanut butter and chocolate: two great tastes that taste great together. One thing the worst examples of both genres share in common is an over-reliance on cocky posturing and strained attempts at cool. Despite suffering from the usual blokey banter and tedious profanity, Dead Cert is not a dead loss. Lawson clearly knows how to handle a camera even though confused editing renders some plot points incoherent. A solid cast (half of whom are listed as co-producers, making this a likeably collaborative effort) inhabit their stock characters capably enough, with cameos from Brit flick mainstays Jason Flemyng and Danny Dyer alongside Steven Berkoff as a Van Helsing type vampire hunter. Yet in spite of their efforts the film drags interminably through pub chatter and half-hearted subplots to get to the bloody point.
Offering another sentimentalised vision of gangland geezers, the story possibly serves as an allegorical commentary on real life East Europeans supplanting ‘lovable’ cockney criminals amidst the underworld. “There ain’t no honour in London anymore”, observes Eddie. “It’s all business.” Freddy takes this idea one step further when he blames the failure of an early plan to douse the vamps with holy water on “fucking Polish plumbers.”
Structurally the film borrows from From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), springing its vampires as a shock twist while the second half finds Freddy, Chin (Roland Manookian), Magoo (Perry Benson) and plucky stripper Giselle (Janet Montgomery - quite striking throughout her handful of scenes) holed up the club’s basement before their eventual standoff. More interestingly, the film lifts an idea from the late Eighties Doctor Who episode “The Curse of Fenric” in that it is not religious iconography but belief itself that holds vampires at bay. Sadly, the idea goes undeveloped and like the sequel-baiting final scene doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.