Wednesday, January 11, 2012

#513. Vampira: The Movie (2006)

Directed By: Kevin Sean Michaels

Starring: David J. Skal, Forrest J Ackerman, Maila Nurmi

Trivia:  This movie was an official selection at the 2007 Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival

Film historian David J. Skal, one of the many personalities appearing in director Kevin Sean Michaels' 2006 documentary Vampira: The Movie, had this to say about Maila Nurmi, aka Vampira, television's very first horror host and the subject of this motion picture: 

Her persona was a strange combination of sex and death”, adding that, if she were a car, she would have been “a hearse...with headlights”. 

By way of several in-depth interviews with Nurmi and a variety of others, Vampira: The Movie takes us from Vampira's days as host of a late-night horror show right up to her legendary appearance in Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space, considered by some the worst movie ever made.

Vampira: The Movie does offer a brief summation of Maila Nurmi's early years; when she was two, her family emigrated from Finland, passed through Ellis Island, and eventually settled in Massachusetts. But it's Nurmi's alter-ego, Vampira, who gets most of the screen time. Through an extended interview, Nurmi reveals the process by which she developed Vampira's seductive appearance (influenced, in equal parts, by the cartoons of Charles Addams and the cover of an S&M magazine). We hear what she thought of Ed Wood the first time she met him, and why her character in Plan 9 never spoke (in short, she had a hard time reciting Wood's dialogue, which she found “moronic”). 

A number of recognizable stars have their say in Vampira: The Movie, including Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Forrest J. Ackerman, and a plethora of modern-day horror hosts, most of whom cite Vampira as their chief inspiration (with the noted exception of Cassandra Peterson, aka Elvira, but that's probably because Nurmi sued her back in the '80s for allegedly stealing the Vampira character). 

Yet the reason this film is such a hoot is Maila Nurmi herself. At times flighty and prone to embellishment, Nurmi is nonetheless amusingly animated, making her the perfect storyteller to relate her own, colorful tale. It is she who gives Vampira: The Movie its charm, and her bubbly enthusiasm that, in turn, makes it an entertaining watch.

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