An enthusiastic contender for next year’s Razzie awards (in several categories), Ben Jagger’s Corbin Nash sets the director’s brother Dean up as a cop-turned-vampire hunter on the streets of L.A. Sounding often as if it were written by a teenager after a Sin City binge (“This is a city of sinners and far worse …The angels? They left a long time ago.”), the picture sometimes briefly achieves that rare feat, of being so terrible it entertains. Sometimes it’s genuinely offensive as well. Unfortunately, enough dull stretches interrupt the action that only the most hard-core cinematic dumpster-divers will care. Unless, that is, tabloids tracking Corey Feldman’s recent activity take notice of his appearance here, as a cross-dressing killer so grotesque he seems designed to elicit angry GLAAD press releases.
Feldman plays Queeny (no kidding), a vampire sadist who wears dresses, weird prosthetic eyebrows and a gravity-defying pile of hair. “I am … beautiful,” he growls into a mirror when we meet him, sounding like a transphobic parody of Jame Gumb, the serial killer in Silence of the Lambs. Feldman may be aiming for camp, or for lurid Gothic weirdness; whatever the target, he misses it vigorously for an hour and a half.
Queeny and his lover Vince (Richard Wagner) are responsible for a wave of disappearances in L.A., collecting innocent Angelenos for both the usual vampiric reasons and weirder ones. They use naked bound-and-gagged women as living-room decor, and any reader whose misogyny radar just bleeped should be warned that one of those naked women will later be impaled through her breast. By our hero. Hell, even when it comes to a woman we’re supposed to root for — stripper with a heart of gold Macy (Fernanda Romero) — Jagger contrives to put a camera directly above her at one point, leering down her tank top.
Over in Noo Yawk, our eponymous hero is a side of beef with a badge. In fact, NYPD officer Corbin Nash has his badge tattooed on his shoulder in case he misplaces the original. One night after work, a stranger (Rutger Hauer) approaches him in a dive bar claiming to have known Nash’s long-dead parents. He starts spinning some yarn about battling demons, claiming that Nash’s mom and dad died in a war with the forces of evil. The stranger doesn’t so much as show him a picture, but it’s enough to send the cop off to the West Coast, where he starts investigating that string of kidnappings and collecting bits of occult lore.
Jagger’s script is bouncing back and forth in time, to a present tense in which a near-death Nash is rescued by Macy in an alley. Since the movie’s poster logo is stylized so that the “n” and “h” of his name look like fangs, it shouldn’t count as a spoiler to reveal that Nash gets some vampire blood coursing through his veins eventually, becoming a sort of dumb man’s Blade: He whittles Dad’s baseball bat into a stake, and carries it around hunting the undead of Los Angeles. But first he has to spend a long while in Queeny and Vince’s jail, a period during which the film grinds to a halt.
Scenes Jagger is supposed to carry on his own are pretty tiresome, but he often crosses paths with a blind man who seemingly knows all. Malcolm McDowell’s sightless seer may have the scoop on Queeny and Vince and their more mysterious allies, but his real skill is finding exactly the right plummy tones to match the script’s laughable noir pronouncements. Of the undead, he informs us: “They take pleasure in doing wrong, and they enjoy the twisted ways of evil.” Well, OK then.
McDowell is good for some forehead-slapping laughs up until his post-climax voiceover, when he assesses the victory of this cop-turned-demonslayer and says, “And so it begins. So it begins.” The prospect of a sequel to this mess is by far the scariest thing about Corbin Nash.
Production company: Jagger/Wagner Productions
Distributor: Gravitas Ventures
Cast: Dean S. Jagger, Fernanda Romero, Corey Feldman, Richard Wagner, Malcolm McDowell, Rutger Hauer, Bruce Davison
Director: Ben Jagger
Screenwriters: Ben Jagger, Dean S. Jagger, Christopher P. Taylor
Producers: Matthew Berkowitz, Todd Matthew Grossman, Ben Jagger, Dean S. Jagger, Christopher P. Taylor
Executive producer: Richard Wagner
Director of photography: Luke Hanlein
Production designer: Drew Klopfer, Jade Spiers
Costume designer: Kiley Ogle
Editor: Matt Michael
Composer: Russ Irwin
Casting director: Carmen Aiello