by Marty Demarest

You've probably already seen the title and started to form some opinions. Some people might even consider the proximity of the word "Jesus" to the word "vampire" heretical. Well, sit down, because the vampires? They're lesbians. And Jesus? Well, He is the son of God, but He knows Kung-Fu, and His sidekick is a Mexican wrestler. They also sing and dance. I'll bet you didn't see that coming.

Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter is a great example of what independent filmmaking is like when it's done with passion and skill. The movie has won awards at Slamdance and the MicroCineFest and had been invited to screen at Cannes. Watching it, I was reminded of the early works of directors like Tim Burton and Roman Polanski, and recalled the pleasures of seeing poorly made Hong Kong cinema long before Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon made the genre a Hollywood commodity. It turns out that there's a lot of fun to be had when you go off the beaten track and realize that truly independent films are not marketed by Miramax.

However, even the best indie films usually feature mediocre scripts and long stretches of inept filmmaking. In this case, though, director Lee Demarbre can't hide the fact that he knows exactly what he's doing. He can edit a fight scene better than most of the big names in Hollywood. And I suspect that the obvious overdubbing and mechanical fighting was as much an aesthetic choice as a financial one, since the discount production values never get in the way of understanding or enjoying the movie. They just contribute to the inspired lunacy.

Of course, any action film with a badass hero needs strong one-liners, and the ones in this film are divine. "Don't tempt Me," "I'm everywhere" and "My death is never the end of the story" are all delivered with panache, and the observant Christian viewer will get much more of the humor than someone else. But aside from using Jesus as the title character, this film generally stays away from religious controversy. For those of you convinced that this movie must be an atrocity, I can only repeat the advice of the Lord in this film: Leave judgment to a higher power. In this case, that means people who have actually seen the movie. So what are you waiting for? Track it down.

Publication date: 02/06/03

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