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  Fanged Up Incarcerate Then Exsanguinate
Year: 2017
Director: Christian James
Stars: Daniel O'Reilly, Danielle Harold, Stu Bennett, Vas Blackwood, Stephen Marcus, Steven Berkoff, Lauren Socha, Chris R. Wright, Huw Samuel, Roland Manookian, Joe Egan, Terry Stone, Ewen MacIntosh, Arron Crascall, Joe Charman, Lucy Pinder, Dan Palmer
Genre: Horror, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Jimmy Ragsdale (Daniel O'Reilly) thinks he's quite the ladies' man as he struts into his local nightclub and tries to chat up as many women as he can, all the while getting matey with the blokes. The trouble is, none of them think anywhere near as highly of Jimmy as he does himself, and when he settles on a pair of lovely ladies to flatter and encourage, he is faced with the club owner showing him a petition with a great number of signatures demanding he stop pestering everyone there. He is told to return to the kitchens and wash up, what he's meant to be doing, but a fracas erupts and he finds himself at the local police station, and from there to prison for the weekend. A special prison...

No, not that kind of special prison, although judging by why Daniel O'Reilly became famous across the nation you wouldn't be surprised to hear of it, for under his Dapper Laughs persona he became persona non grata thanks to some obnoxiously ill-considered jokes about sexual assault. When it came to a performer who had made a fool of himself like that, he had something of a mountain to climb to get back to public acceptance, though in 2018 he managed to do very well in Celebrity Big Brother, which was aimed squarely at his target audience in addition to being a halfway house for celebs seeking to restart their careers in the manner of many a reality TV denizen.

Often this meant either panto or more reality TV, but O'Reilly had something up his sleeve, for the previous year he had starred in an actual movie, not merely a videoed record of his earlier, dubious stand-up act, and it was this, a collaboration with amateurs-turned professionals in the field of horror comedy Christian James (director) and Dan Palmer (writer and actor). They had built up a minor following thanks to a particular kind of humour, broad but eccentric and with a real love of horror cinema informing the gags, so O'Reilly was wise to try something on this modest level that nevertheless would find his way back into the affections of the post-pub audience this would play best with.

With vampires as the theme, the danger was Fanged Up, with its deliberately groaning pun of a title, could be regarded on the same desperately underachieving level of Lesbian Vampire Killers from a few years before, so it was a pleasant surprise to report this was one of the best British "berks go to Hell" movies. Not a hotly contested goal, admittedly, but it was at least able to be talked of on the same warmly received cult acclaim of something like Evil Aliens or Doghouse, nothing as famous or celebrated as Shaun of the Dead which all of these efforts aspired to and which arguably kicked off the genre, but if you knew those titles and responded to them you would have a decent idea of what you were in for. Helping O'Reilly, whose range was not exactly huge, was a cast of willing stooges who contributed to the amusement.

Once Jimmy finds himself in the prison, we get a spoof of all those hardnut Brit jail flicks like Scum or McVicar as he acclimatises to the atmosphere of impending violence, but what he doesn't know is the threat will not come from the inmates, for, as an opening sequence informs us, there are vampires abroad in the land who have their own personal, captive larder. As luck - or contrivance - has it, Jimmy's former girlfriend Katie Makepeace (Danielle Harold, fulfilling the traditional rational woman amidst a world of idiot blokes role) is a doctor at the place, and she works out what is up. The humour was relentlessly self-deprecating, but it didn't grate when what you had was basically an update of the old Bob Hope comedy thrillers with added gore and nearer the knuckle quips: typical was when jailbird Vas Blackwood admits he is gay, to which Jimmy replies he must be at home there, only to be told no, since the old lag doesn't really find rapists, murderers and child molesters attractive. Yes, it was very silly, but as a "this is what I intended" resetting of a career that went off the rails with dreadful judgement, it was unexpectedly enjoyable. Music by Laura Rossi.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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