Canada has given us many fantastic things over the years: comedians, beer, embarrassing photographs of their prime ministers, hockey supremacists, more beer, the list goes on and on. And most of those things are good. But are they truly great? Well…yes, ok, Canada has given the United States some truly great stuff. Awesome job, guys. But what’s the best thing Canada has ever given to the world? I mean, really, the absolute greatest, most amazing, more incredible than Dan Aykroyd thing that has emerged from the great frosted forests of deepest Canada?
Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter.
Evil vampires have discovered a truly heinous secret; if they murder lesbians and wear their skin, they can walk around in daylight. With their new ability to be out at noontime, they decide it’s a good idea to pick a fight with the biggest threat they could possibly face: Jesus Christ. But Jesus is tougher than they reckoned and takes them out with his hardcore Body of Christ. From there it’s a battle for the son of God to hang out with punk priests, get a rad new look, and do his father’s bidding by saving the lesbians. For the Lord so loves the lesbians. They’re such hard workers. Along the way Jesus also teams up with gunslinger Mary Magnum as well as masked Mexican wrestler El Santo to perform bad musical numbers, beat down a mad scientist who uses intestines as a fighting style, take on a clown car full of atheists, and even kill vampires by blessing beer.
None of that was a joke. All of this is in the movie. It’s even accompanied by poor camera work, cheap audio, and music all done by Jesus’ dentist. I’m not kidding about any of this. This film is the pride of Ottawa.
I first learned of Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter nearly twenty years ago while researching the worst films ever made, and with its low budget and the few clips we could find online of transvestites saving the Lord, priests with Mohawks driving Jesus around on mopeds, and him fending off vampires in a junkyard with a cross made from broken windshield wipers, my friends and I decided that we needed to own this movie. We managed to import a DVD from the Great White North and watched the film so many times we could nearly quote it verbatim. And then during a barbecue in 2005 while putting on yet another viewing, we discovered my mom had seen it before and was also a fan. Way to go, Canada, helping a guy bond with his mother.
Look, this is a personal favorite, so it’s a bit unfair to try and offer a review…but then you’re on a website where I rant about Lucio Fulci’s hatred for eyeballs and Swedish ninja movies, so I realize that you’re the one in the wrong for believing in me. Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter is the movie that defined my time in college, more than the multiple times we watched Boondock Saints, Pootie Tang, or Godzilla: Final Wars or even that one time my friends and I mistakenly decided to drink heavily and watch Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Stalker. That was not the best move, and I didn’t talk to several of those guys for a few months. I’d have done better with Hell Comes to Frogtown. The point is, at a time when nearly every dorm room was adorned with movie posters of Fight Club, Pulp Fiction, and/or Breakfast at Tiffany’s, my friends and I had Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter. Thank you, Canada.
However, looking at the film objectively, it isn’t good. Not by a longshot. To call the cinematography “experimental” is to grievously insult the scientific method. It was very much a no budget, no experience, no idea what they’re doing kind of movie…and that’s what I love about it. Because while the filmmakers were obviously making it up as they went and had no idea how to do things like build up characters, write song lyrics or dance numbers, or even come up with reasonably safe fight choreographer (and they own up to all of this in their video commentary), they managed to instill heart and try new tricks and techniques. The imagination is limitless, and when no budget can back up that infinite abyss, incredible things happen. That’s why the Virgin Mary speaks to Jesus through a cheesy night light while God is an ice cream puppet.
Yes, God speaks to Jesus through a bowl of ice cream. The Lord really does work in mysterious ways.
The ultimate message of the film is also one of positivity. Sure, Jesus may have kicked the crap out of a Jeep filled with a horde of atheists, but he’s also out there trying to help the fringe groups that sit on the edge of society: the gay and lesbian community, punks, scat singers, and the good people of Ottawa. Though these are people who have often been maligned to the point of violence (particularly Ottawa), Jesus is fighting for them and getting his butt kicked by some tough vampires in the process. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do, and vampires suck. And when he needs help, these same people step up to help him out because they’re good people, even when nobody else seems interested in joining in a terrible two-step and going full fisticuffs against the vampire menace. Be nicer to everybody, folks, because there are good folks everywhere…except for corporate boardrooms. Those are full of psychopaths. Otherwise though, the film gives us a good message.
That, and we get acting hammier than a pig farm. The mad scientist looks like a coked out Buddy Idol going full Nicholas Cage. There’s a Rasputin-looking street preacher who jumps out of the bushes to start the movie, and that guy makes me avoid tall bushes now for fear of the word of the Lord. And El Santo? Well, his mask pretty much says all it needs to say, but he’ll still warn Jesus away from bad managers. That’s what you want in your lucha libre buddies.