If this were the 1970’s, when the midnight movie was a Friday and Saturday night entertainment fixture, “Hawk and Rev: Vampire Slayers” would be one of the films showing in that time slot. Its combination of vampires, gore, quirky characters, and delightful absurdity make this picture a perfect candidate for that time slot.
No description of the plot could do this movie justice. But I will lay out the basics: the first scene shows a night-time city shot of Santa Muerte, California. A man is talking on his phone in a deserted area when a vampire kills him.
We next meet Hawk (Ryan Barton-Grimley, also the director and writer), a night watchman at an abandoned building complex. He may be a schizophrenic and may have killed a vampire soldier with a stake when he was in military prison at Leavenworth. He is residing in his parents’ back yard when he breaks into their locked home and triggers a silent alarm for the police. Fleeing on his bike with his possessions in tow on his wagon, he sets up his tent in a hobo camp.
We see him meet his friend Rev (Ari Schneider), who is performing tai chi on the beach. Rev is the groundskeeping engineer (janitor) for the same building as Hawk. Rev is vegan and a pacifist, allegedly having been raised by his parents in a hippie commune.
One night on patrol Hawk sees a van pull up. Two white-faced men with blood on their faces and wearing black emerge with another man being led by a chain and wearing a leather S&M hood. They enter one of the offices in the building.
Convinced they are vampires, Hawk calls a police officer, Deputy Jack Scroggins (Jeff Lorch) and wakes him up to give him the news. Scroggins agrees not to turn over Hawk to his probation officer if he just hangs up.
Hawk calls Rev and tells him to hurry over. We see Rev traveling by bus and arriving late to see Hawk, who is annoyed at his tardiness. Eventually these two will team up under rules of engagement that they cannot hurt or kill the vampires.
Needing a mentor, they contact Jasper (Richard Gayler). He was Hawk’s cellmate. Jasper does not remember him at first, but then recalls that Hawk was the dumbest person he had ever met. He gives them a list of onions, holy water, and stakes to bring him when they next meet.
This leads Hawk and Rev to a religious store, where Hawk offends two nuns. Inside they meet the salesperson, Theo (Jana Savage), who inquires what they need. Responding that they need 10 gallons of holy water for baptisms, the two are exposed as vampire hunters. Theo offers not to turn them over to the police if she can join the team.
More occurs after this with many twists and turns. One of the virtues of this film is that if one scene does not appeal to you, you are soon onto another one that does suit your taste. Its structure reminds me of the old screwball comedies of the Thirties and Forties.
One aspect which I loved is the creative way that the montage scenes were handled. They seem to serve as meta-commentaries on the use of this feature device. The absurdities and playfulness shown in them is wonderful.
No one is going to win any acting awards for this picture. But each actor manages to pull off their scenes with complete conviction in their character’s persona.
I can’t even begin to cite all the wacky dialogue that make this film so enjoyable. From discussing whether vampires are worse for drinking blood than humans eating pork rinds from a murdered pig to Hawk citing movie catchphrases to a clueless Rev, there is never a dull moment. Another scene shows a vampire criticizing his mother for letting strangers into his room.
The props also are memorable. These include nanny-cams hidden inside large Easter bunnies, bloody baby doll heads, and an “arsenal” full of garden tools (Hawk can’t have weapons since he is on probation). Kudos for using the DVD of “From Dusk Til Dawn” as an homage to vampire films.
Another oddity which I noticed in the credits is that there are 47 song credits, the most I can recall seeing in any movie. I wondered about this since that would mean a song every two minutes in the picture! Music was omnipresent so perhaps this is a possibility.
I watched this film twice and it was even better on the second viewing. In fact, discovering “Hawk and Rev: Vampire Slayers” reminded me of being a freshman in college and reading a review of the then first-run “Rocky Horror Picture Show” in the local paper. I told my dorm roommate that we had to see this movie, which we did in a theater with all of four people present including ourselves.
While “Hawk and Rev: Vampire Slayers” is not in the same league as RHPS, it is still worth seeing and having a good time, even if you cannot do so at midnight. I do not recommend this picture for children.
Three and a half out of five stars
Hawk and Rev tells the story of Philip “HAWK” Hawkins. Hawk doesn’t just dream about killing vampires, he eats, sleeps, drinks and freakin’ breaths it! After getting kicked out the army for staking a fellow soldier with a blunt two by four, Hawk almost dies of boredom working as a night security guard in his hometown of Santa Muerte, California. Just when it looks like all Hawk’s options in life have expired, filthy blood-sucking vampires appear and of course — nobody believes him! With his back up against the wall, his sweaty Karate Kid headband on and hordes of murderous vampires closing in, Hawk enlists the help of the one person who kind of believes him: Revson “REV” McCabe, a dimwitted, vegan-pacifist groundskeeper. Together they join forces to save the whole entire freakin’ world! Well, at least their hometown anyway.
Starring Ryan Barton-Grimley, Ari Schneider, Jana Savage, Richard Gayler, Casey Graf, Kevin Ocampo, Jeff Lorch
Written and directed by Ryan Barton-Grimley
"Hawk and Rev: Vampire Slayers" as Midnight Movie Gold
If this were the 1970’s, when the midnight movie was a Friday and Saturday night entertainment fixture, “Hawk and Rev: Vampire Slayers” would be one of the films showing in that time slot.