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Old 06-18-2004, 09:30 PM
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Default Central Park Drifter




Reviewer: Rhett
Review Date: August 12, 2002
Released by: Shriek Show
Release date: 12/11/2001
MSRP: $24.95
Region 1, NTSC
Full Frame 1.33:1



Vampires live a tough life. Bound by nature to feast on the blood of attractive women, forced to exist devoid of sunlight, and doomed to wander alone, these fang laden social victims just can't seem to get any peace. Whether it be the rat-like Nosferatu, the witty Count Dracula, or the reserved Stephen from Central Park Drifter, these guys seem destined to isolation. Central Park Drifter is a modern and somewhat unusual vampire film newly released on DVD thanks to Shriek Show. Does the film, or DVD, hold a candle to other vampire tales like Bram Stoker's Dracula, Nosferatu The Vampyre or John Carpenter's Vampires? Let us take a look and see.

The Story

inline Image It is a dark and quiet night and emerging from the shadows is a taxi. Stephen (Silvio Olivero), the driver, scans the empty streets. A women exits a building in screams, obviously depressed, and Stephen is there to offer her a ride. "Where to?" he asks. "It doesn't matter" she seems to imply, as she suggests he goes through the park. She pays and runs off on the verge of suicide when Stephen bounds from the car, hauling her back in, and making her his eternal slave. Stephen is a vampire, and through passion and good ol' teeth wielding, he frees the women from her imminent demise. Stephen does not kill the innocent, only those whose death is assured.

inline Image Nearby, a movie producer named Michelle (Helen Papas) is busy working on the set of her next film. She must deal with annoying co-workers, a promiscuous husband, the news that her film is going to be canned, and a phone call from a doctor notifying her she has a deadly infection. Given her impending death, it is no surprise that Stephen enters her life, giving her rides home in his taxi. Things are different this time however, as there is obviously a physical attraction between the two of them. He gives her a light, she invites him to a party, and soon enough they are passionately engulfed together on Stephen's coffin. Stephen finds much to love about Michelle, and decides that he will stop feeding himself on his victims' blood in order to die alongside her.

Things get complicated though, when his various victims begin causing havoc on the New York streets. A police duo right out of Miami Vice is appointed to get to the bottom of these bizarre happenings, and Michelle's newly jealous husband is out to make things tough on the vampire protagonist. Will Stephen and Michelle's love prevail, or will others disrupt their romantically tragic bond?

inline Image Central Park Drifter was originally called Graveyard Shift, but was subsequently re-titled after a Stephen King picture of the same name hit the screens. Both names are effective in representing the lonely and desolate lifestyle of the film's protagonist. Stephen lives without true love, fueling his life merely on spurts of violent passion. The director, Gerard Ciccoritti, provides a literate metaphor of a vampire's loneliness by employing Stephen as a taxi driver. There is not a single occupation that better embodies isolation, and Silvio Olivero's performance of the titular character helps bring forth Stepehn's implied emptiness.

inline Image The central relationship between the remote Michelle and Stephen is handled nicely, and it fuels some possibly intriguing social context. Given that her disease was not defined, she could represent any of the major epidemics plaguing modern society. Is the director trying to make a connection between those infected with viruses like AIDS and cancer and vampires through loneliness, or is such a consideration merely looking to deeply into the film? Given the ineptness and unfocussed nature of the film, I am going to have to side with the latter.

Central Park Drifter has an intriguing premise. Relating murder to romantic passion and vampires to taxi drivers are inspired comparisons. The love story between the two central characters is also competent and linking these two lonesome figures together borders at times on being touching. The synthesizer soundtrack is even fairly good, providing some John Carpenter like urgency as well as some melodramatic music. But every other element of this film is bottom of the barrel.

inline Image There are a boatload of supporting characters that drift in and out of the happenings as the screenplay pleases. None of their backgrounds or motivations are ever really developed, and ultimately all these characters simply bog down what is already a very lengthy 90 minutes. Take Michelle for instance, all that is known is that she works with something involving film (even that fact is vague) and she is dying of an unknown disease. The filmmakers haven't even the care to give one of the main characters a personality or lifestyle, and instead Michelle comes off as a plot point rather than a human being. The editing is also poorly done, drawing needless attention to itself and coming off at times as very confusing. The story cuts from dreams to reality in such an unorganized fashion that the narrative becomes unfocussed and even less coherent than the already barebones story.

It is a real shame, because there was a definite potential for an original film here. The relationship between Michelle and Stephen was tragic and compelling, and should have been the focus of the film. A lot could have been said about loneliness and how through tragic events even the most fragile of souls could be brought together. Central Park Drifter ends up trying to be a gory vampire film cross bred with a soft-core porn, but even in those respects, falls short in the nudity and blood departments. There is little to recommend here, only lost potential.

Image Quality

Shriek Show presents the film in 1.33:1 full screen, and this is a horrible transfer. There is obvious artifacting, color bleeding, print blemishes, and film grain throughout. The black levels are extremely weak and inconsistent, with some shadows exhibiting more than five tints of grey at a time. Given that the film occurs almost entirely at night, the "blacks" are really distracting. The color pallet is also very dull and inconsistent with some weird pastels at times showing up on the characters faces. The nail in the coffin on this bad transfer is the overall softness of the transfer, which makes the film look even less appealing than it already is. The entire movie appears to be visualized from behind an empty bottle, making things very tough to see, but given the quality of the film itself, that might not be a bad thing. This is an uncharacteristically poor transfer from Shriek Show.

Sound

The sound quality is not a whole lot better than the visual quality, presented in an unsatisfying 2-channel stereo track. Everything sounds as if it was in mono, and the overall sound field is very limited and flat. The dialogue and ambient effects sound weak, distant and very thin. The synthesizer score is captured nicely, but it at times drowns out the dialogue. Even for a low budget 80's movie, this sounds very poor.

Supplemental Material

inline Image What we get here is three full screen trailers for Women in Fury, Beyond the Darkness and The Nights of Terror (aka Burial Ground). These are three pretty interesting trailers, and make for better viewing than most of the feature film.

Final Thoughts

Central Park Drifter is a missed opportunity at what could have been a tragic foray into loneliness and relationships. As it stands, there is little to recommend of this film to any type of horror fan. There is not enough nudity, gore or story to satisfy even the most accepting horror fans. The audio and visual transfers are about as bad as the film itself, and the lack of supplements make this a DVD to avoid at all costs. Cover your DVD player with garlic and pray that this disc never reaches your system.

Rating

Movie - D
Image Quality - D-
Sound - D+
Supplements - C-

Technical Info.
  • Running time - 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Color
  • Rated R
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter Stops
  • English mono
Supplements
  • Theatrical Trailers for Women in Fury, Beyond the Darkness and The Nights of Terror

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