Friday, 13 September 2013

MOVIE: The Vineyard (1989)

A wine grower named Dr. Po (James Hong) has kept himself young and alive for centuries with the aid of a magical potion. As of late, the potion seems to have lost its effectiveness, but when a bunch of performers come to stay, the doctor believes that a young actress could be his new source for eternal life. Meanwhile, the zombies of the island keep rising from the ground.

It's sometime in 1989. As a regular (daily?) visitor to Pick-A-Tape in Hedge End, I have almost exhausted the horror section (and most of the other sections, now I think of it), and I am hit by the sudden realisation that I am down to the last few tapes on the shelf. At least, with the passing of time I have convinced myself that must have been the reason why I rented The Vineyard...

Familiar (if usually typecast) character actor James Hong is a triple threat as co-writer, director and star of this messy if occasionally entertaining romp. The script throws all-sorts into the blender without explanations. We never learn what the bodies of the island's visitors have to do with the wine being made. We never learn why the zombies rise out of the ground every so often. I'm not entirely sure why someone starts coughing up spiders (did I miss something?), or why the doctor has his shriveled mother locked up. And just what the hell is that ending all about?

When the aforementioned action isn't taking place, The Vineyard sadly commits what is, for me the worst cinematic crime of all: being boring. That stops the movie from falling into the "so bad, it's good" bracket. Instead it's the kind of film which makes me grateful that my blu-ray player has the capability to play at double-speed. Still, skip the talky bits (and most of the first half-hour) and stick to the zombie/action parts, and you can happily while away 45 minutes, tops. After all, it can't be that bad if I sat through it twice (albeit with a 23 year interval), can it?


USA 1989 - Northstar Entertainment

90 Minutes

Certificate - 18 (UK), R (USA)

Blu-Ray/DVD: Arrowdrome (Arrow Films), or Boulevard Entertainment (UK) - Yes, there's two versions available. Image Entertainment have released it in the USA

Original trailer (which contains most of the best bits...)

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