Rock bands and vampires. They seem to go together, right? Or, they have ever since Lost Boys when the New World got its very own undead icon (some say perfected in none other than Lestat).
Then, along comes an independent movie that did a new take. Seemingly an obvious one, but it hadn’t been done before. Suck (2009) tells the tale of an ironically named band, the Winners. Four musicians and a roadie. Joey Winner (Rob Stefaniuk–who also wrote and directed) is the driven lead singer, longing for success but never really having a whiff of it up until now. His ex-girlfriend Jennifer (Jessica Pare) plays bass, with Tyler (Paul Anthony) on guitar and Sam (Mike Lobel) on drums. Hanging around more or less are a French Canadian roadie named Hugo (Chris Ratz) and one very sleazy but easy-going manager, Jeff (Dave Foley of SCTV fame).
What follows is the story of how undeath makes its way into the band. Jennifer gets invited to a party, returning late the next day transformed into this gothic goddess radiating dark glamor. Frankly, in a movie full of interesting characters, she steals most scenes. At this point, as her strange behavior goes largely unnoticed by her bandmates, the results had me rolling on the floor. Their reaction to the pallor, the sickening reaction to sunlight, her odd (as in missing) appetite and mood swings comes down to the most mundane. She’s on something. True enough. Hilariously, Hugo the roadie is the first to learn the truth. Ratz in this role also steals a lot of scenes, as he becomes Jennifer’s Renfield with a French (or Quebecois) accent and handling it rather better than Dracula’s bug-eating servant. Well, he’s a roadie. He’s used to dealing with weird stuff. Not this weird. Not usually. But, still…
Of course the rest of the band do eventually find out, and it doesn’t take long at all for some of them to figure out herein lies a road to success. When you think about it, this portrays a moment rarely portrayed before. Not simply a rock band or rock star who’re vampires, but the events of how they got that way. How they reacted. And again, it needs saying, this is funny. How perfect that when the other Winners find Jennifer eating someone in her motel room, one keeps insisting they’re all tripping on PCP. Jennifer herself reacts to Joey’s horror with “Don’t judge!”
Part of all this includes a vampire hunter, Eddie Van Helsing (Malcolm MacDowell), who has his own quirks. He’s afraid of the dark. And in terrible pain. The girl he loved fell victim to the same vampire as Jennifer. Revenge is on his mind. And he realizes the Winners can lead him to the creature he’s looking for. Rather neatly, footage of a young MacDowell from the film Oh Lucky Man forms part of flashbacks about his character. Nor is MacDowell only one of many big stars, mostly from music, to pop up in the film. Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Henry Rollins and Moby make up just a few. The flick is also full of nice little in-jokes. Early in the film the Winners reproduce the famous Abbey Road photo, except in what looks like a Canadian suburb instead of downtown London. Likewise Alice Cooper even says the line “Welcome to my nightmare.” Dimitry Coats of the band Burning Brides plays one of the vampires.