Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat
©1989 Vestron Pictures


Genre: Comedy

Rating: R

In an attempt to learn to live in harmony with humans, Count Mardulak has led the last vampires on Earth to the town of Purgatory. Called to Purgatory to investigate a problem with the synthetic blood process he created, David Harrison (Jim Metzler) decides to bring along his wife Sarah (Morgan Brittany) and his daughters Gwendolyn (Vanessa Pierson) and Juliet (Erin Gourlay). On their way to Purgatory, Sarah voices concerns about meeting her old boyfriend Shane who vowed to win Sarah back from David. Meanwhile, things at the synthetic blood plant aren't going well but Shane (Maxwell Caulfield) assures them that David will fix everything when he arrives. That night, the Harrisons arrive in Purgatory and Sarah and the girls go to bed, while David stays up working. However, just as she's about to go to sleep, a bat attacks Sarah in her bedroom. Hearing their mother's screams, the girls run into the room but, while everyone else just sees a bat, Juliet sees that the bat is really Shane. Shane and Juliet share a brief look before Shane flees out the window. Elsewhere, another vampire named Ethan Jefferson (John Ireland) approaches a young couple (Christopher Bradley and Kathy MacQuarrie Martin) outside a nightclub and mesmerizes them. He then bites them and adds them to his army, an army he plans to use to attack Purgatory. The next day, David goes to the blood plant and has a heated exchange with Shane. Back in town, a man (Bruce Campbell) shows up at the local diner looking for Count Mardulak (David Carradine). The young waitress, Sandy (Deborah Foreman), obviously taken with the new arrival, slips him a note asking him to meet her later. While playing in the house they're staying in, Gwendolyn and Juliet discover a secret passage and follow it to find a coffin hidden in a cavern. Seeing Count Mardulak rising from the coffin, they run away screaming but when their mother goes to investigate, Mardulak convinces her that the girls were just imagining things. In town, Jefferson is stirring up trouble and talking to the other vampires about returning to the 'old ways'. Sandy goes to meet the man from the diner, obviously with romance on her mind, but he discovers she's a vampire and threatens to destroy her if she doesn't take him to Mardulak. Following a violent confrontation with Shane, David tells Sarah that Shane told him she'd had an affair with Shane. When Sarah admits its true and that she's not sure if Juliet is his daughter, David leaves in anger. Later, after his anger has subsided, David realizes he still loves Sarah and the two agree to take the girls and leave town. But first, they have to find the girls, who are with Mardulak because he's learned that Juliet had a dream about Jefferson and Shane. Unfortunately, the dream may come too late as the sun sets and Jefferson's army prepares to attack. First though, Mardulak has to deal with Sandy and her friend, who reveals himself to be Robert Van Helsing, descendent of the original vampire hunter. Luckily, Van Helsing is easily handled when Mardulak gives Sandy permission to bite him. Finally, the attack begins and, while Mardulak's vampires try to defend themselves, the Harrisons try to leave town. Unfortunately, they don't get far. The battle rages on with Jefferson's army having an advantage because they have guns that shoot wooden bullets but Mardulak's side is able to take some of the guns from downed vampires and they slowly turn the tide. In the middle of all this, Shane goes after Sarah. He corners her in Mardulak's mansion and quickly mesmerizes her but before he can bite her, David shows up and is able to rescue her using holy water given to him by the newly vampirized Van Helsing. Outside, the battle takes a bad turn for Mardulak when Jefferson captures Sandy and uses her as a hostage to force him to surrender. Instead, Mardulak challenges Jefferson to a duel and Jefferson accepts. Fortunately, Mardulak easily defeats Jefferson, revealing that he is actually the most powerful vampire of all time, Count Dracula. Just then, David and Sarah appear on the roof, erecting a makeshift wooden cross that destroys Jefferson's army while leaving Mardulak/Dracula and his followers unharmed. As the last of Jefferson's army bursts into flames, Mardulak/Dracula looks up at the cross with tears in his eyes and rejoices that they've been forgiven.

Type of mind control: Vampiric Stare

Mind control scenes:
There are only two brief mind control scenes in the movie. The first is when Jefferson mesmerizes the couple outside the nightclub before biting them and the second is when Shane mesmerizes Sarah and makes her want to be bitten.

Subjective Rating: 2 out of 5
As vampire movies go, this one is definitely different. Unfortunately, like most vampire movies, the use of the vampiric stare to hypnotize subjects is a very minor plot device. It's even unclear whether Jefferson actually mesmerizes the couple in the first mind control scene since he also seems to be trying to convince them to join him instead of just taking them. However, his use of the term 'look into my eyes' makes it seem as if he was supposed to be mesmerizing them. The scene where Shane mesmerizes Sarah is well done, with her changing from fear to arousal as he stares at her, but it was far too short.

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