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The Independent Critic

Windham Beacham, Benjamin Lutz, David Alanson, Stephen Geoffreys
Mark Bessenger
NR (Equiv. to "R")
84 Mins.
Breaking Glass Pictures (DVD)

 "Bite Marks" Review 
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Written and directed by Mark Bessenger, the Indiana made Bite Marks was picked up by Breaking Glass Pictures for a DVD release on November 15, 2011 after having completed its film festival run that includes an early November date at the 2011 Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival on Sunday, November 13th at 2:30pm at IUPUI's Campus Center.

When it comes to horror comedy, the bar isn't exactly set high.

Is the film scary?

Is it gory?

Is it actually funny? Campy? Outrageous?

Since Bite Marks is being distributed by the same outfit that gave us the low-budget awesomeness of Ninjas vs. Vampires, it's nearly impossible to not draw some comparisons between that film and this vampire comedy with a twist. While Bite Marks doesn't quite measure up to Ninjas vs. Vampires, in terms of production quality or simply entertainment value, it's campy and original enough to appeal to fans of low-budget horror.

Brewster (Benjamin) has already had a rough day when his tryst with his brother's wife is interrupted by a call the trucking company dispatch where he and his brother both work. His brother hasn't shown up for work and unless he covers for his brother's absence, his brother's out of a job. So, off Brewster goes to carry a load of coffins to a funeral home a few states away. To help keep himself awake, Brewster picks up a squabbling gay couple, Cary (Windham Beacham) and Vogel (David Alanson). While Brewster and Cary don't exactly get along, the "straight" trucker finds himself attracted to Vogel. Unfortunately, a GPS mishap leads to their being stranded inside an old junkyard where they soon learn that the coffins they are delivering aren't empty and it's going to take all their creativity to make it through the night while surrounded by vampires.

For the most part, Bite Marks is a middle-of-the-road endeavor across the board. The film is neither laugh out loud funny nor, at any moment, particularly horrifying. The only other gay-themed horror flick in this critic's recent memory is the vastly superior Hell Bent, which featured an abundance of genuinely chill-inducing moments along with quite a bit of successful campy humor. Unfortunately, Bite Marks seems to rest a bit too comfortably on the novelty of its gay theme and in the process sacrifices a potentially entertaining film with a talented cast.

Bite Marks is most disappointing because it actually seems to have quite a bit of potential, mostly owing to its ensemble cast and because Bessenger clearly has some terrific ideas but never goes, pun intended, "balls to the walls" with the humor or the film's action. Mostly, the film seems like it's created by a first-time filmmaker (It is!) who's sort of getting comfortable with his own artistic style. There's enough here that's promising that I'll be anxiously awaiting Bessenger's next film.

Windham Beacham and David Alanson make for an interesting couple, though their characters are under-developed and their relationship is played more for novelty than for plot enhancement. Both actors show signs of being able to offer so much more here, but they're really not given a chance to go beyond the basics. Benjamin Lutz is offered a bit more room to flex his acting muscles, with his sexual confusion playing off well and more than a bit exciting amidst this feuding couple and the vampires. The vampires themselves certainly look fine with Travis Pates and Carolina Lee doing a nice job with make-up on a micro-budget. Clifton Radford's camera work does the job quite nicely, while Rossano Galante's original music complements the film quite nicely.

For more information on Bite Marks, visit the film's website. For more information on the film's appearance at the Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival, be sure to visit the festival's website.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic