I’m pleased to welcome Defector to TMtV. I particularly enjoy his acerbic style as he watches the worst films imaginable and then fist-smashes a keyboard until reviews happen. However, please note this review is Not Safe For Work and if you are easily offended this may not be the review for you, but you can blame him if what you read here gives you nausea.
There are times to be politically correct and there are times to be a gigantic bastard, and I'm afraid that watching and reviewing Ankle Biters is an impossible task without taking the low road, so to speak. There are horrible reasons for this. Specifically, it is impossible for me to review a film about midget vampires without highlighting that the movie contains midgets.
Also, that this is a Movie Called 'Ankle Biters' and it does indeed contain midget vampires. I really cannot stress this point enough.
I genuinely apologise for my part in reviewing this piece of shit. No, seriously. I am sorry for all of this in advance, and I honestly did try to review Ankle Biters without denigrating myself and poking fun at the disabled, but there was only so long I could stare at an empty Word doc. before I had to write something.
Yes, there will indeed be the odd 'joke' at the expense of people with physical abnormalities during this review, but if it makes anyone feel better, I happen to be a hideous looking human being and am broadly unlikeable.
Okay, here we go.
It's the little things...
Ankle Biters is a 2002, independent movie about a bad-ass vampire hunter, whose main source of income is hunting dwarf vampires. Which, as you might imagine, is a difficult topic to morally steer around. And you'd be right, as Ankle Biters can't even spell the word 'dignity', never mind apply it to itself.
This is a tough watch to be sure, and not just because the phrase 'political correctness' is a vampire's only weakness in Ankle Biters. It also happens to be an embarrassingly dreadful excuse for a film, full of the sloppy amateurism of a director who was never given adequate careers advice.
It's shit, in every way. But unlike actual shit, the closer you look at Ankle Biters the more perversely fascinating it becomes. It's like driving past the proverbial car crash, if the car crash itself involved the main act of a travelling circus and a garbage truck full of used camera equipment.
Ankle Biters opens with footage of a guy in a Tool t-shirt who is running from something (spoiler – midgets). The quality of the footage is about as exceptional as their attitude towards the disabled however, as everything looks like it is - namely, a cheaply produced pile of crap that someone created despite not having the funding to do so.
Their choice of 'music' during this introduction enhances the mood greatly, as we have the shittiest sounding hip-hop I've ever heard set to the sound effects of one of those Joker-bags that Jack Nicholson had in Batman. If you can't picture the effect of these elements blended together then scratch your eardrums with a stick whilst staring into the sun.
The unfortunate gentleman is indeed fleeing from a group of assorted little people, and before anything of any note has taken place, I am already asking myself how the hell did this movie round up so many midgets and dwarfs? And not only that, but how did they convince them to play the roles of vampires in a movie called Ankle Biters?
The answer evades me, but I would expect these actors were either desperate to break into SAG or the casting director was a hypnotist.
The...bite-sized...vampires (geddit?) catch their prey and begin to eat his legs (remember, the title and the theme is 'Ankle Biters'), and therefore, because the movie is ripping off Blade in the most morally dubious way possible, a retard in a trench-coat appears.
Edit: When I am referring to this guy as being a 'retard' I simply mean in the general insulting sense, not an actually mentally retarded person. Trust me, I would never ever go there, even if this movie would.
|Quite possibly it did|
This dickhead (the protagonist of the movie) is obviously a cheap Wesley Snipes knock-off, but he looks more like his name should be Floyd or Larry or something. His name is actually Drexel but fuck that. From now on he's Bloyd.
Bloyd's entrance into the movie is accompanied by yet more diabolical hip-hip (which as we all know is the go-to soundtrack to introduce awesome assholes) however the effect is dulled somewhat by his side-kick.
Who is a dwarf.
'Disability Awareness: The Movie' then presents a painfully embarrassing fight scene in which three midgets attempt to beat up a 6ft tall guy in sunglasses, and honestly, it is truly dreadful in every conceivable sense. Everything from the framing to the editing, the choreography, the sound effects, the props, everything is fucking appalling. The scene even includes something I am not likely to forget for a while, namely one of the midgets, who after putting to use 30 seconds of off-screen martial arts training, attempts a high kick that doesn't even reach knee level.
It was at this point that I started a 'dwarf count', praying that this movie would contain exactly seven of them so that they could be named accordingly.
I already said I'm sorry.
So, despite Bloyd being of full stature, and possessing martial arts training, a shotgun, and the element of surprise, he still manages to let the three dwarfs escape. He does however, get to say the line “Next time...” in a husky voice, which is neither original, nor something that stops me from despising my own taste in films.
With the heroes established, we are shown Bloyd's preferred mode of transportation, which is obviously a cool looking motorbike. Except, it would be cool looking if he didn't (no shit) ride around with his dwarf wife in a side-car. And lets be as honest as possible here, he could be driving around in a fucking Ferrari but if you attach a side-car to it you would immediately look like a bell-end, especially if it contains a dwarf.
|Seriously, how do you live with yourself?|
Meanwhile on a bridge, the director’s uncle and unemployed neighbour await the arrival of the dwarf vampires, in what looks to be some dodgy dealings. The dwarfs appear behind them out of nowhere (spooky!) and dialogue happens.
The reason the group of dwarf vampires have appeared on top of a rail bridge in the middle of nowhere is to purchase a sword, which is helpful considering the other two guys on the bridge happen to have brought one with them.
It becomes clear that not only has this movie dressed these dwarfs up like Crips but it's also told them to talk like ZZ Top, which is a weird combination I'm sure you'll agree. But it becomes borderline hilarious when every line of dialogue that is spoken by the only dwarf that speaks sounds like it's coming from someone who has never acted a day in his life, which is most likely accurate.
The same can be said for pretty much everyone else in this scene (and the movie in general) as some fiercely incompetent, one-take-only, Z-grade acting happens, along with plot shenanigans, as the sword sellers are jumped by the gang of ravenous midgets, who go straight for the ankles.
Somehow this is enough to kill one of them in seconds, while the other guy runs away and jumps into the river to escape.
I'm assuming this is what's called a 'premise'.
Anyone for a dry Martini?
We are then shown a bizarre establishment shot of the interior of an art gallery set to fucking bagpipes, and yet another of the director's unemployed friends appears in the movie. This shaggy-looking man in a sweater takes a phone call and recounts the directions of where he is about to go, and no, it doesn't make any sense. Then this guy...
|“What you filming me for?”|
...addresses the camera, and a bar fight ensues with Bloyd and his wife taking on just about anyone. This includes a random bystander lady who just happened to be there, but who gets punched in the face by Bloyd, who I should remind you is supposed to be the good guy. But of course, this movie is cheap and shit, which means the only way the director knew how to make the protagonist cool and edgy was to dress him up like a flasher, wear sunglasses indoors, and have him break a woman’s nose.
During all of this, Bloyd's wife is up on the bar kicking faces and smashing bottles, and at one point dances a little jig. All of this frantic mayhem is set to cheery, plinky, guitar strumming, which yet again produces a combination of images and sounds that can fuck off.
We see that the bar owner has borrowed Bloyd's plastic shotgun for this scene, but it's as useless a weapon as it is a prop, as Bloyd drinks a cup of the bar owners blood after slicing his hand open. The bar owner is unusually calm about this, mostly due to being an actor in this movie who probably didn't realise they were in it.
Cut to the gang of vampire dwarfs, who extort information out of a fat guy who they were supposed to pay money instead. Possibly they were just grumpy about being vertically challenged vampires but they certainly are shit business partners. Oh, and they also hiss and bear fangs which is adorable.
Fat guy gets eaten by the group, and one of the gang, who is either staggeringly unprofessional or isn't taking his role seriously, goes for the fat guy's stomach. This isn't Abdominal Biters you dick, get with the theme!
The movie cuts to the house of the guy from the art gallery, which is clearly just the house of someone who never gave permission to film there, and it's becoming obvious that not one ounce of effort was put into anything past gathering up as many assorted dwarfs as possible, keeping them in frame, and praying to God that they don't figure out how insulted they should feel before beating the director to death.
Meanwhile, Bloyd and his wife are doing something, and Bloyd gets told off by his side-kick for parking in a disabled bay. Mate, you're barely three feet tall. I'm fairly certain that your side-car is entitled to a disabled badge.
I hate myself.
Let me just explain something now in all seriousness. I did a bit of research on dwarfism and little people whist taking notes for this stupid film, and the definition of disabled is, amongst other things, 'someone who has their daily activities impaired due to a physical or mental condition'. For this reason, dwarfs are often considered disabled. Were the creators of this film aware of this? I doubt it, as evidenced by the aforementioned scene, and I would like to hope they weren't, otherwise what the fuck movie?
Anyway, they dismount their dwarf-mobile and make their way inside what appears to be a social security office (again, I highly doubt they were allowed to be there), and after 25 years of walking through corridors and listening to the same hip-hop drum-loop over and over...
...they arrive at someone’s office to deal with the menace within. Obviously this is yet another midget, who they inject with something I don't care about and then leave. And yes, every single agonising second of the entire scene serves no purpose to the overall plot, and is entirely pointless in general, much like the whole fucking film.
When they arrive outside someone has stolen their motorbike and side-car, which if memory serves, is example #2 of something occurring in this movie that has no relevance - Slight understatement there, as the whole movie has no relevance, but you get the point.
So, the guy from the art gallery meets some other guy who shows him a trunk full of machine guns. I'll take a stab at things and say that this guy is a vampire hunter, which again, makes no sense as that's essentially what Bloyd is supposed to be, right?
Wait one fucking second.
Every single scene in this film has so far taken place during the day time. Oh fuck you film, you've written your own vampire mythology. Everyone should be on fire or melted to death by now. MOVIE RULES.
Cut to a huge shed that the film is using as a makeshift car garage, where the following dialogue is spoken;
Redneck #1 - “I am going to go and get a burger.”
Redneck #2 - “Those burgers taste like piss.”
Redneck #1 - “That's because Jimmy pissed in them.”
Stupid, stupid film.
And yes, the dialogue is delivered exactly as monotone as I typed it.
So, when Redneck #1 fucks off to drink one of Jimmy's burgers, Shoulder-Height, Elbow-Height, Waste-Height, and Nibbles pounce out of some changing room lockers (?) and do what they do best.
|Couldn't afford coffins, huh?|
The guy who is being accosted in such a horrifying manner has a sister who, listening from an adjacent room, calls the police and describes a fairly accurate picture of events.
“I need help! There are some dwarfs attacking my brother with a sword!”
But her descriptive talents are to no avail, as the brother himself is turned into a vampire.
|Should've gone to Jimmy's|
The film continues, with the addition of some fairly avant garde - genre-breaking techniques, as shots begin fading to black...within the scene, and everybody keeps staring straight to camera.
|“What you filming me for?”|
Oh, and this annoying fish-eye thing keeps hiding the corners of certain shots.
|Which might just be an effort to show nothing at all|
It's very David Lynch.
Some police have cordoned off a crime scene, where everyone is under the impression that a wolf has mauled someone to death. To be fair to the police this does seem much more likely than the perpetrators being a gang of dwarfs, but whatever.
Meanwhile, Bloyd and his wife are marriage-bickering...
|“What the fuck do you mean 'it's too small'?”|
...and I get to see a close-up of Bloyd's pathetic training moustache, suggesting that his character was played by someone with acromegaly, which would not surprise me even slightly at this point.
Their passive-aggressive banter is interrupted by the police phoning Bloyd and asking him for help. But with their dwarf-mobile now on its way to China, they decide to steal a random bystander’s car instead, making sure to give the innocent man the finger by way of thanks.
|“And I'm stealing your daughter's booster seat.”|
By now the cops have arrived at the garage, where they find the squad of deadly midgets and their new non-vertically challenged pet vampire. The cops dish out the usual “Freeze!” rubbish, but they are sneered at instead. So, in what would surely result in a lengthy investigation by Internal Affairs, the cops open fire on an unarmed man and four dwarfs, making sure to miss every single shot, just in case.
The vampires run forward and enjoy some light brunch (ankles) before piling on to a motorbike and driving away.
Mr and Mrs Bloyd, the pack of vampires, and the hunter guy show up in the middle of nowhere, and I swear to God that one of the most eye-gougingly retarded excuses for an action scene occurs.
It's so terrible that I struggled to even take notes when watching it, as I knew there would be no way to translate it in to words. Just know that it was horrendous. The conclusion was straightforward enough though, as no one gets killed during it, and the vampire hunter man shakes his fist as everyone drives away.
The most enjoyable element of the film then occurs, as filler footage of abandoned buildings take up the next couple of minutes.
Eventually we are shown two moron teenagers who have ventured deep into what looks like redneck Chernobyl to smoke a joint. The girl fires up her spidey-senses and insists they 'go home' (they're too young to own their own house so I'll assume they are incestuous) as she's decided that hanging around an abandoned factory is something she now finds creepy.
|Which is rich, considering how close she is to this guy|
This derelict pile of bricks is of course where the vampires like to chill and, once they hear that lunch has arrived, they begin to surround the duo and snarl. As per usual, everything looks terrible and I have a headache. The movie quite possibly is sentient as no sooner have I noticed the pain in my temples than the film starts with more God-damn guitar chugging set to a woman’s orgasm noises, and I start praying for death so I can be reincarnated as a fucking cloud and never have to look at dwarfs ever again.
But no such luck, as the girl throws herself to the ground instead of running away and is pounced upon by the midget troupe, and because this film has been produced by a deaf and blind man, the audio of her screaming is 1000db louder than anything else in the film. This of course blows my headphones right through my brain and I pause the film so I can book a flight to the closest country that has legalised assisted suicide.
The two kids get eaten (by eaten, I mean they have red food colouring poured over their clothes) and YET AGAIN the entire fucking scene was for no reason WHATSOEVER other than to simply pad out a stagnating piss-scented film.
There goes the casting budget
As the footage for this movie was recorded on a Nokia 6210 the characters are often hard to make out, but I do eventually get a decent look at the vampire hunter guy and it's non other than Luke Skywalker.
|Still a better movie than Episode 7|
Bloyd and his wife go back to bickering with each other, only to be interrupted by the sister from earlier, who hilariously slaps Bloyd's wife to the ground and demands to know where her brother is. Bloyd somehow knows exactly what this complete stranger is talking about and tells her to join them.
Bloyd takes her to yet another abandoned building, where he explains the plot of the film to the impatient and confused woman. She may as well be me, as I too am sick of everything, and have lost any patience for Bloyd and his vampire-babble.
But apparently the dwarfs can only turn other dwarfs into vampires, but because there are not enough dwarfs in this part of America they need the sword to blaa...blaa...blaa.
Bloyd is necking vodka throughout this scene but the lady asks him if it's blood he's drinking. Are you fucking blind? Or is everyone so hopelessly unemployed in this shit-hole of a town that they have resorted to drinking so much bathtub gin that their blood is now transparent?
You fucking idiot.
But this brainless twat is not the only one in the room with an undiagnosed mental issue, as Bloyd spouts this expository gem...
“If you inject vampire blood into a vampire, his blood will ignite, causing him to die.”
And there was me thinking that having your blood ignited inside your body would give you +10 resistance to not being a dozey prick, but what the hell would I know. This movie has indeed written whatever vampire rules came into the script-writers head while he was trepanning himself, so maybe I should just shut up and accept it.
Establishment shot: The movie
Guess what happens next?
Some more cutaways of abandoned buildings and countryside, of course! And where does the movie eventually cut back to?
THE SAME FUCKING SCENE!!!
|I use the word 'scene' as loosely as possible|
No points. None. Not one.
Someone knocks on the door of Bloyd's abandoned Mormon cathedral and in walks Luke Skywalker, who wants to be friends.
|And yes, he is definitely Luke Skywalker (except he has lines)|
After loading some guns and promising not to kill each other, the film cuts to...
For fuck sake movie, just make a short story. No one will think any less of you than they already do.
After 20 years of booty-shaking and horrible techno, the evil vampires appear and start necking the clientèle. Thankfully, Bloyd and Luke Skywalker show up in slow-mo, say something that is buried underneath the terrible audio mix, and start shooting (and slapping and shoving).
And... yet again...the scene has no relevance to anything other than to stretch out this turd as thinly as possible.
Cut back to Bloyd's 'house', where one of the vampires eats the neck of Bloyd's wife.
|With yet more 'creative' camera angles|
When Bloyd comes home, he finds his wife is a little more crabby than usual...
|“I'm actually okay for that blowjob, sweetie”|
...and after Bloyd injects the rabid dwarf with blood, he gurgles and dies.
|Pictured: Literally the best screen-grab I could get|
A quick glance at the running time and I am relieved to see that this is almost over. But not before the group of heroes...
|Who for some reason now includes this old man|
...await the arrival of a guy on an ultralight helicopter. No, his character is not in any way explained, at least in any dialogue loud enough to hear, but he does come with a big hat, so he has come prepared even if he has no reason to exist.
|“Yup, you'll do, Mr Hat Helicopter”|
time to say goodbye...sort of
Yes, the film approaches it's dramatic climax and it's blissful end. But first...
...there is some more montage footage.
Which (no shit) leads into...
...some more montage footage.
Followed by some slow-mo, which in turn is followed by random bar footage.
Eventually the movie does something, as a big gang of motorcycle riding vampires and the group of hero-people meet up at yet another abandoned factory and begin fighting.
I cannot describe to you how staggeringly fucking awful this scene is, so I won't
Once all the vampires have been dealt with the heroes trundle away, or possibly drives away (I can't remember and I'm not going back to check), most likely in slow-mo.
Cut to 9 months later...
Bloyd, who for some reason has waited exactly 9 months (maybe he was pregnant), sneaks up on the leader dwarf vampire (the only one with lines) and shoots him in the face.
A learning experience
I hate this film. Hate it. I hate everyone in it, everyone that made it, and I hate myself for paying real money to watch it. What the fuck is wrong with me? Well maybe I can at least take from Ankle Biters some comfort in knowing that I learned a few things.
I had heard before that there are physiological differences between dwarfs and midgets, but I was a little surprised to learn that midgets (who differ from dwarfs in that they have normal proportions, whereas dwarfs can have shorter limbs etc) apparently abhor the term 'midget', instead preferring the term 'little people'.
Which is 100% okay with me, but a bit late considering this is the end of the review. Okay fine, I've been a cheeky bastard throughout all this, but I'm not the bad guy here, honestly. The true face of evil as far as Ankle Biters is concerned is the fucking degenerate that created it.
But what kind of bottom-feeding slug is responsible for this festering mess? Was it a conglomerate of midget-hating film studio executives with gigantism? Or is Ankle Biters yet another example of a vanity-turd painfully squeezed out of one persons self-absorbed rectum?
I know which answer I would have preferred, but unfortunately it's all option 'B' here, as yes, Ankle Biters is the product of one man's utter disregard for decency and self-awareness.
I wonder who it is...
This guy - Adam Minarovich - is the writer, producer, director, and lead star of Ankle Biters, so if you're having fun calling me an asshole then you're going to fall off your chair with this guy. Yes, I might poke fun at things that I shouldn't, but if you've ever wanted to see what a truly monstrous shithead looks like, then here's his IMDb.
Yup, this is the guy who, as recently as 2002, saw fit to make a movie about disabled vampires and then star in it himself as someone called Drexel Vennis, whose job it is to kill them.
Yes this movie is exploitative to the extreme, but what made Adam Minarovich think that dwarfs and little people were fair game? No one else has made a movie about zombies with cerebral palsy, or a film about an epileptic werewolf. The reason for this is because everyone who isn't Adam Minarovich has enough fucking sense inside their skulls to know better.
Did he think it would be more acceptable if the disabled actors he intended to exploit were cast as bad-ass killers? I suppose, barely, as it would indeed have been much more abhorrent to produce a film about a normal vampire who preyed on dwarfs. No one would want to see that movie. But then again, no one should want to see this movie either, which further makes me question my own sense of decency, considering how much I paid for it.
There are some grossly primitive ideas about dwarfs and little people out there, and that's surely fed into Adam Minarovich's assumption that making a film like this is an okay thing to do. I know, I sound like a hypocritical prick getting to be all morally uppity after having poked fun, but there really are some dumb-ass questions being asked of little people. Don't take my word for it, look at the Google search suggestions for 'Can dwarfs...' and be ready to question your own species.
I must admit however, I did learn a lot during the process of watching and reviewing Ankle Biters, not least of which how easy it is for assholes like myself to revert to pointing and laughing at unfortunate people like they are some primitive form of 18th century travelling carnival show entertainment. But I did also become aware of some of the intricacies surrounding a disability, so once I'm done breaking the speed limit at the local drive-thru confessional I might just give myself a pat on the back for being great.
Above all else though, I learned that there are no depths to which certain film-makers will sink to if left to realise their own dreams, and how much the world would benefit from them burying their head in a bucket of sand instead of making films.
Fuck you Adam Minarovich. Bite my fucking ankle.
Don't forget to head on over to Bad Movie – Bad Review, where you can see plenty more of this kind of crap.