Son of Darkness: To Die For 2 Review
This film takes place a little over a year after the events of its predecessor To Die for (1989). The continuity between the two films is fantastic, possibly even the best I have seen between sequel and original. Son of Darkness ties up the loose ends of the previous film as well as developing characters from the original. Incidentally, the timelapse between films is about the time between them in the real world.
Kate after her steamy session with Vlad gave birth to a baby 'Tyler' which she immediately had adopted, becoming virtually a recluse. Vlad's remains are collected by forensic scientists and taken to a laboratory. There was an accident. One of the scientists got cut and her blood mingled with the remains... Mysteriously Vlad's remains disappeared. Martin, gutted over Kate has moved to some remote town called Lake Serenity... There have recently been a series of murders attributed to 'Coyote Attacks' in which the victims have been found drained of blood. A mysterious necklace has been found on the scene.
Nina (Rosalind Allen) is a single mother. Her husband walked out on her, finding the reality of a baby too much to cope with, after they adopted Tyler. Tyler cries all the time and none of the doctors can work out whats wrong with him. Her brother Danny (Jay Underwood) has come to stay to help her manage. Danny seems to be more of a hinderance than a help, though as he gets more and more wrapped up in his new girlfriend Celia (Amanda Wyss). Nina turns to handsome new doctor, Max Schreck (Michael Praed), who seems to have a way with Tyler.
Martin sees the "coyote attacks" on the news and recognises the necklace as the one Vlad gave to Kate. He goes to the police who fail to believe his ramblings about Vlad the Impaler. He then meets Jane (Remy O'Neill), now a vampire, who reveals that Max Schreck is none other than Vlad Tepes. She sends him to Nina to help prevent another tragedy.Tom (Steve Bond), who we learn is more than just "an old friend" he is actually Max's brother,wanders around in the shadows with Celia, watching Max. He becomes insanely jealous of the blossoming romance between Nina and Max and decides to try and kill her. Will Max/Vlad ever find happiness? Will Tyler join the forces of darkness?
Michael Praed replaces Brendan Hughes as the quiet and mysterious tortured vampire hero. I thought Hughes was great, until I saw Praed who is prefect. long dark hair, eyes to make you melt, handsome aristocrat poncing about in a frilly shirt. The effects are far less overt than in To Die for. This time they have gone for the traditional vampire fangs - which look a little silly on Tom, but are otherwise fine. Both Max and Celia drink bottled blood from the hospital. Its all pretty traditional stuff, Max can turn into a wolf and the vampires can become incoporial and walk through walls.
The one really interesting feature is Tyler, the baby. Vampires making mortal women pregnant was first explored in Grave of the Vampire (1972). Tyler is half turned and cries constantly.
Martin wants revenge for Kate and the death of his two friends. He is out for Vlad/Max's blood, even though Tom is the real villain. He joins forces with Jane, the sluttish friend of Kate in the previous movie. She is now a vampire controlled by Tom, but she wants to defy him. Martin still has the book on Vlad Tepes that he lifted from Vlad's party which he gives to Nina.
Nina (Rosalind Allen) plays the beautiful single mother at her wits end. It is easy to see how she falls for Max. She replaces Kate as the object of contention between Max and Tom. Nina is far more satisfactory heroine than Kate, she is less credulous and "dumb" and we feel for her character.
Michael Praed is on top form. He looks gorgeous, and perfect as a vampire. The scene where he greets Nina for dinner is the first time we see him out of hospital scrubbs. Wow. Anne Rice vampires eat your hear out. Gothic setting... frilly shirts... open fire... Michael Praed is in full Robin Hood mode, and when he takes Nina out for a ride through the forest on a black stallion its pure romantic fantasy. Beautiful stuff. Any Michael Praed fan should watch this.
The continuity between films is superb. Son of Darkness builds on To Die For and deepens the themes and characters. There is plenty of plot and history.
While it is not used to the best advantage here, I really like vampire films that deal with vampires making mortal women prgnant. I think this is an interesting aspect of vampirism to tackle.
The ending again is a little unexpected... Or rather because you sympathise with the characters not what you want. This film is even darker than To Die For and is a rare treat.
Tyler cries and cries for the entire film. Its like having a real baby and being powerless to do anything about the incessant screaming. While his discomfort is essential to the plot, it becomes almost unbearable and you want to hurl something at the screen to make him shut up.
Steve Bond overacts something chronic. Think Gregory Greer from Vampire cop (1993). The scene where he chases Nina at the boathouse is unbelievably over the top. This is the only time in the film where we go back to the OTT cliche horror that ruined the original.
The reviews for this film have been very divided. Those who dislike it claim it is boring. It is not your usual OTT vampire cliched effort, thats for sure. But in my opinion thats a good thing. While son of darkness, as its title implies can stand alone, it is a far richer film if watched in conjunction with To Die For. It is a slower film, and less cliched, which some may consider boring.
Logic let me introduce you...
Why/how did Kate's necklace end up in the woods?
In To Die For we see Vlad, Celia and Tom killed yet they all appear in this sequel. Vlad's reappearance is reasonably satisfactorily explained - the remains are taken to the lab to be analysed, one of the researchers cuts their hand and blood falls onto the remains. Ok there weren't actually any remains, just a smoking carpet (the vamps corpses vanish in a puff of smoke) but I was willing to suspend my disbelief enough to have him resurrected. Well he is Dracula! Man of more resurrections than possibly any other screen character save Kenny in South Park. But what about Celia and Tom?! Both were impaled and we saw their corpses go poof. How do they miraculously come back? And how does Max now have them under some sort of control? Did he bring them back? If so how?
Say What? Cool Quotes:
"Buy you a drink?"
"You got a fake ID or are you Peter Pan?"
Manic Vampire of the Year:
"I have children"
"Oh, I'll kiss them goodnight for you."
Always look on the bright side of death:
"You know, sometimes Martin you're adorable"
"Yeah, and you're dead... Well?"
"Well I'm not arguing. I mean worse things could happen to a girl, never get a day older never gain another pound."
Rules of the Game:
Max says, "I'm changing the rules - there's no more killing."
Max Schreck (as if you didn't know already!) was the German actor who played vampire Count Orlok in the original Nosferatu - a Symphony of Terror (1922).
Michael Praed is best remembered for playing Robin Hood in the first two seasons of Robin of Sherwood. he was also Prince Michael of Moldavia in Dynasty.
Rosalind Allen (Nina) played Dr. Wendy Smith in Seaquest DSV as well as appearing in the horror films Ticks and Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice.
Jay Underwood was in loads of films in the 1980's like The Boy who could fly, the Invisible Kid and Not Quite Human.
Steve Bond, Scott Jacoby, Amanda Wyss and Remy O'neill all appear in the original movie To Die For (1989)
This film is popular enough to have fan fiction written about it. Michael Praed fan Cindy Roberts has drafted a sequel Son of Darkness III: The True Story of Max (Vlad Dracula) Schreck. I urge anybody who likes Michael Praed or feels unsatisfied by the ending of this movie to read this sequel. It is well researched and while its fairly long, well worth a look.
Bites: And one wolf bite.
Human deaths: 5
Humans Turned: none
Vampire deaths: 4
This is a rather underrated film. I think it is superior than the original To Die For, since it has a bigger budget, a more likeable cast and it's far darker. The special effects are less ropey too. You do need to see it in conjunction with To Die For though as it follows on closely and there are lots of references to the previous film. Michael Praed looks great and there is a great soap-opera story going on - It reminds me a little of the Subspecies series of films With the two vampire brothers eternally locked in a battle for supremacy. We don't get to see as much of Celia which is a shame as her Psycho scene really made the original. The maniac vampire this time is Tom who rather spoils this film going completely over the top as a stereotypical horror villan.