Dir. Michael Mort
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
CHUCK STEEL: NIGHT OF THE TRAMPIRES is non-stop balls to the wall brilliance. Imagine is DIE HARD and THE LOST BOYS had a love child and it was over 18, this would be it. The film has every 80s fanboy screaming in orgasm as shot for shot the film is not only a love letter to the action genre of the era but genuinely makes itself an original action horror film in the vein of BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA with added clay.
Michael Mort is Chuck Steel, a no nonsense cop who breaks every rule in the book when 3 partners in, he finds out that the streets are not only over-run with tramps, but murderous vampire tramps. There's literally a wafer thin plot that lets the action do the talking and CHUCK STEEL has no space to breathe. From the epic opening sequence that is literally the greatest anti-drugs campaign video ever made to the greatest scene in a circus ever made, this will leave its audience grinning from ear to ear as soon as the synth rich score sets in.
There's a lot of credit to be shared with the animators who have (pain)stakingly bough this to life and as the violence turns up, the film harks back at the practical effects that were so still live on. The deadites in THE EVIL DEAD to the creatures in GHOSTBUSTERS, every monster on screen here are just as terrifying as those in live action.
Add into that the voice cast who really know their classic cinema. The film is laced with brilliant one liners and corny jokes but never overplays them. This is not just nostalgia, this is a film that pays homage but has its own voice to tell. The animation would not appeal to all but within minutes, the charismatic cast of characters and intense action literally sweep you off your feet and it never makes fun of the films its inspired by, but instead rests as a movie that could comfortably sit alongside them.
What Mort has achieved is a masterstroke of cinematic glory that needs to be seen to be believed. The hours and attention paid to every shot are not cheap shots of gore but every splatter of blood, every decapitation, every monster on screen is there to be adorned. Chuck Steel may be an arrogant prick but it's a character that's flawed but with heart, like many movies of the era they haven't dated so well and while some of the humour is dated already, it never labours on it for more than servicing it's setting. Those that loved TEAM AMERICA will love much of this but there's so much more here than the riffing that Stone and Parker's film gave us. CHUCK STEEL is funny without doubt but knows when to rip open the ribcage to make it an authentic horror movie that can show the live action film-makers a few tricks.
NIGHT OF THE TRAMPIRES is the most enjoyable blood fest we've seen this year and certainly the most fun with tramps since Charlie Chaplin.