Skin Eating Jungle Vampires 2004 Horror Movie Review
Horror movies Review
There is a classic moment in playwright Sam Shepard’s “True West” when a cheesy Hollywood producer says, “We’re in business to make movies. American movies. Leave the ‘films’ to the French.” That quite neatly sums up the philosophy behind Timothy Green Beckley’s “Skin Eating Jungle Vampires”—no artistic pretensions allowed, just pure schlock entertainment.
This low-budget horror flick was shot on videotape. There are only unknowns in the cast, and the special effects were visibly done on the cheap. But that’s the whole point. Sleaze and blood and topless women are sometimes all you really need.
“Skin Eating Jungle Vampires” begins with one of our heroines, the young Tiffany (played sweetly by actress Violet Sweet), romping through the jungle of Costa Rica, where she has come to vacation during Spring Break. She is soon captured by a group of female vampires and spirited away to a cave hidden in a nearby volcano. The vampires intend to offer Tiffany as a gift to their Dark One, the God of Maggots, in hopes of being delivered from their unhappy exile on Earth. It seems the jungle demons are the last surviving remnants of a faraway planet that was destroyed in a cataclysmic explosion and must suffer for their decision to flee. The only surviving male of their species is Mr. Creepo, played by Beckley himself, who does a wonderful extended cameo send-up of Peter Lorre along with his screenwriting, production and direction chores.
Meanwhile, back in the USA, Tiffany’s older sister Carla (played by lovely blonde Carla Anderson) is awakened from a nightmare in which she witnesses Tiffany’s capture and torture by the vampires. There is a psychic, telepathic bond between the two sisters, and they can each sense when the other is in danger. Carla hops on a plane for Costa Rica in hopes of rescuing Tiffany from her hellish plight. After a visit to a Costa Rican witch doctor, who warns Carla away from the fiery fate awaiting her, the intrepid older sister begins a journey upriver that brings to mind Martin Sheen in “Apocalypse Now.”
There is lots of excellent footage in “Skin Eating Jungle Vampires” of the Costa Rican jungle, where the film was shot on location, and the use of quiet, scenic establishing shots helps build the suspense as Carla gets ever closer to her confrontation with the vampires holding Tiffany captive. An actress named Persephone portrays the Evil Jungle Queen, the vampires’ interim leader, and her snake dance is, in the familiar phrase, “worth the price of admission.” An unbelievably orgiastic feast on human blood and guts goes on a little longer than some viewers might feel comfortable with, but again, that’s the sort of excess the Mr. Creepo crew is all about.
I won’t spoil the ending for you, of course, but let it be said that it’s funny, the kind of punch-line climax that lets the audience know it’s all been in good fun. There are even some outtakes tacked on after the closing credits that get you laughing outloud as you watch the sometimes hapless cast and crew struggle to get various shots right.
Kudos to Timothy Swartz for his part in writing the screenplay along with Beckley, as well as to Superdude, the rock band who wrote and performed the movie’s musical score. The pulse-pounding jungle drums are by percussionist Bleu Ocean, and Brian “Violentpup” Toughey is credited with the special effects. Beckley as always manages to succeed with a little help from his friends, and their obvious camaraderie adds an element of charm to the blood-soaked proceedings.
Finally, one should watch “Skin Eating Jungle Vampires” without bringing unrealistic, artsy expectations to it. With the recent easy proliferation of video cameras and computer editing equipment, it is becoming easier to make movies without spending millions, and the resulting efforts at the very least serve as a sociological statement of our times. That we can also be entertained by “Skin Eating Jungle Vampires” makes that sociological statement all the more worth our time.