Vampire Forensics (2010)
By: J.R. McNamara on October 2, 2012  | 
Madman | Region 4, PAL | 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 2.0 | 97 minutes (Full Specs)
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Country: USA
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I firmly believe that the truth is stranger than fiction, and my love of documentaries is a tribute to that. For every film featuring rape/revenge scenarios or gang warfare there is a true story that is as, if not more, bizarre. When not watching horror and cult films, I can be found watching things like Gangland, Prototype This or Man vs Wild (which granted is more sensationalist than serious), or anything presented by either The Discovery Channel or National Geographic. I especially love it when these two particular presenters of documentaries lean in the supernatural or the occult direction, and this disc, Vampire Forensics, gives us two documentaries based around the legend of the vampire.

The first documentary is called Is It Real? Vampires and has us ask ourselves the question as to whether or not vampirism really exists, and we are presented with several scenarios, including serial killers who feasted on the blood of their victims, like Peter Kurtin aka The Vampire of Dusseldorf. We also look at Don Henry, a modern day vampire who drinks the blood of his girlfriend, and he is tested to see if he suffers from any diseases that may cause him to have this need. The answers to the question whether or not vampires exist are ambiguous, which in something claiming to be a documentary is disappointing, though a 'yes' would be flat out moronic.

The second documentary is called Vampires in Venice and is mainly about the Black Death and how it affected Venice in 1575. Of course at that time, a fictional supernatural perpetrator of the mass death was created, known as a 'Shroud Eater', a revenant who rises from the grave to feast on the living. The interesting thing though is a discovery was made of a skeleton with a brick shoved into its mouth, and forensic investigator Matteo Borrini starts an investigation to find out why this happened, and if this person was deemed a vampire by his contemporaries. This would be an interesting documentary about the skeleton, especially with the forensic procedures used, but the references to vampirism lessen its effect.

Both features are presented with a great big pile of gravitas that attempts to assist in the legitimacy of the documentaries, but the constant references to a mythical creature, the vampire, diminishes the effect. The first documentary is really nothing short of ridiculous and appears to be a cash in on the new millennium fascination with vampires (thanks for nothing, Stephanie Meyer) but the second one, with its look at the black death, is more interesting, that is until it throws rubbish about Dracula into the mix.

If I am to be totally honest, and as a reviewer I guess I should be, these documentaries are a pile of old arse, and I for one am disappointed that a company like National Geographic would make such a frantic grab at a bit of popular culture money instead of sticking to what they do best: informative tales of real world stuff. I mentioned earlier in this piece that I enjoy documentaries about the supernatural or the occult, but these two documentaries don't take a tongue in cheek approach that an idea like this deserves, and they are less for it.
Made for cable television these two documentaries were never going to truly sparkle, however the 16:9 anamorphic widescreen transfers are perfectly acceptable, albeit not too sharp.
Don't expect any audio fireworks here. Both documentaries are presented in Dolby stereo, but that's fine seeing as how the soundtrack is mainly the voice of the voiceover guy or incidental music.
Extra Features
Absolutely zip.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
I'd suggest that if you watch this thinking that National Geographic are going to return a positive result about the existence of vampires, then perhaps booking yourself into a clinic is a good idea. The first of these two docos is flat out a waste of time, and the second showed signs of greatness that were diminished by the constant references to pop culture's vampires. If you intend to hire this (for goodness' sake, don't buy it!) only watch Vampires in Venice.

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