HMM Day 3 – Stake Land

Today for Horror Movie Marathon day three, I would like to ask a serious question. How do you think you would survive in the event of some sort of zombie apocalypse? Be very honest with yourself right now and try your best to truly rule out your verdict. Most of us will scramble through the inventory in our brains. Compute all the skills and knowledge combined with our strength and experiences we have gone through and make a true assessment. I think in the event of zombie hordes coming after us, most of us would be able to rise up and be the total badass we think we are. I am talking about the slow walking Romero style zombies. Yea, so things would be good but… now here is the big but! What if it wasn’t zombies? What if instead you had an infestation of blood sucking vampires? Yea, that changes everything cause your ass is grass!

Stake Land is a 2010 film directed by Jim Mickle and stars Connor Paolo, Nick Damici, Kelly McGillis, Michael Cerveris and Danielle Harris. It was meant to be a web series featuring Nick Damici as the vampire hunter known as Mister. Kind of like a Mad Max figure that plays as the vehicle for the stories that unfold I guess. Instead of the series, it was pushed into a feature length film. However there were a series of short prequel films that gave origin stories to characters and events leading up to the movie.

The Gist

A pandemic of vampirism has eradicated society as we know it. Leaving people to amass small tribes while defending off unbeatable hordes of blood thirsty vamps. A teenage boy named Martin is saved by a vampire hunter that goes by the name Mister. As Mister and Martin make their way through the newly dystopian world filled with blood thirsty vampires and insane cults, they encounter the true horrors of life.

The worst thing is when a horror movie has real good promotional marketing and you get all fired up for it and then are bummed out because the movie ends up sucking. But Stake Land was surprisingly different! I first discovered Stake Land while searching through YouTube. I came along the short mini series episodes of the movie and was instantly hooked. At the time, The Walking Dead was pretty big and it wasn’t yet turned into a boring show. So anything that modeled the dystopian wasteland with monsters gained my attention. One of my favorites was the short origin story called The Day I Told My Boyfriend which features the character Belle. It’s this flashback style situation as the character Belle tells her boyfriend she’s pregnant while the vampire plague strikes. They crash their car and Belle witnesses her boyfriends body being drug into the woods. It’s pretty sweet short clip and Daniel Harris has a certain place in horror fans hearts so I immediately sought the movie out.

Not A Typical Vampire Movie

What I love about Stake Land is how it isn’t a typical vampire movie. What we commonly think of vampires in film doesn’t take place here. They aren’t the cool looking rebels like in The Lost Boys, or blood thirsty cult in 30 Days of Night. These vampires aren’t even smooth talking gentlemen like Dracula. Instead Stake Land gives us mindless killing machines that are very much like zombies. There are even classes of vampires that seem to be harder to kill than the run of the mill vampire. They have no rhyme or reason other than feeding on human blood. Their instinct to flock is only driven by thirst. So they don’t carry any social constructs. Is “constructs” the right term, I don’t know. I keep hearing that word in political debates. Anyways! So bottom line, it’s vampires but they don’t have a bar on the Mexican border.

The movie and the predicaments our characters find themselves in is sad and merciless. The world sucks and we as viewers have to be on board with those circumstances. However it builds a great theme of hope through our two characters Martin and Mister.

Martin is a young kid and seems hopeful even after losing his entire family. He cries when he discovers loss and clings to the relationships he makes because he has emotional attachments. He doesn’t want to kill vampires or living people. But his character has to progress beyond scared little boy or else he is dead. Mister is wise and understanding of the world around him but it has also left him incapable of emotional connections. He doesn’t want friends and only trains Martin in vampire hunting so Martin does’t become a burden to him. Technically, Mister is the equivalent to the vampires. But he is also the total badass of the movie! He’s kind of a less disgusting looking Mickey Rourke that doesn’t look like a weird balloon. He crafts these awesome weapons and has killing vampires down to a passionate science.

Martins Grows

As the movie unfolds, our character development for Martin is a mesh between Martin and Mister and in the end, we get a good blend of both persons. Martin loses that lost child and becomes as badass and confident as Mister BUT also capable of loving and being human. Mister when realizing this continues on his journey of vampire hunting but without Martin. This was something I found endearing about the movie. We go through all this death and turmoil to have some glimmer of hope at the end.

Stake Land is a great dystopian horror flick that really packs a punch. The bleak tone, desolate atmospheres and minimal musical score creates extremely edgy moments that feel real and connecting. They take the basic ecosystems like a forest or midwestern town and make them places of tension. You feel the desolation and ever looming death. If there is anything about a dystopian world that could make it any worse is that at sundown, the place becomes a feeding ground to flesh eating vampires. This creates a feeling of inescapability. Wherever you go, chaos and slaughter is right there waiting. Even the living humans have turned savage towards each other and in many ways have become more of a threat than the vampires. In the film they encounter a crazy religious cult led a bad mother named Jebedia Loven.

He’s this guy that thinks the vamps exist to fulfill his and the Lords work, so he does crazy shit like feed humans to the vampires and doing his best to eradicate life as we know. Of course Loven becomes the real monster of the film, causing more damage to our protagonists than the actual vampires.

Stake Land is a brilliant movie and one I think deserves more credit. It may not be as popular a vampire movie as others but I love it for its more realistic take on vampires. Maybe not the most exciting of films but it delivers on the gore and scares. Actually, its great to have a vampire movie that doesn’t give us trend setting preppies or Bilderberg style covens hiding away in the shadows while wearing as much tight black leather as possible. So go ahead and check out Stake Land for Horror Movie Marathon day three!

3 Comments Add yours

  1. raistlin0903 says:

    I could not agree with you more about this film! I loved it from start to finish and have watched it multiple times. I was lucky enough to get a special edition for this film that also included all those prequel films you mentioned, and it’s funny but the Belle story was my favorite too. There was just such a unique atmosphere in this movie, that made it so much more than your typical films in this genre. This was a terrific post, thanks for putting this movie in the spotlight. Now you have made me want to see this again! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. nscovell says:

      Thanks dude! I was wondering if many people saw those mini-series. I wish more horror movies would do those kinds of things.

      Do you remember the Trick r’ Treat promos they came up with for the movie. It was the rules of Halloween videos.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. raistlin0903 says:

        Well, living in Holland, I don’t think we ever had that😔 But I wish something like that would return, because it sound pretty great!
        As for more movies doing those small mini series? I agree, it was really well done😊

        Liked by 1 person

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