Violent men: a love story

By Alexandra Heller-Nicholas · @suspirialex · October 31, 2023, 7:00 PM EDT

Editor's Note: In each Wild Women with Steak Knives entry, author Alexandra Heller-Nicholas examines a woman-directed horror film that's been largely overlooked or forgotten. Read them all here!

Sometimes a film achieves greatness because it is driven by a clarity of vision of the artists involved that is so profound that it verges on the sublime. And, sometimes, they just fluke it. Denice Duff's Vampire Resurrection - also released as Song of the Vampire - is a film whose pervasive thematics are so genuinely out there that I sincerely have no idea whether it was intentional. I really honestly have no idea if this movie was consciously driven by the absolutely dismal representation of men and masculinity that lies at its core or if it just sort of stumbled on it, but ultimately, either way - I almost don't care. If you like your misandry complimented with styrofoam tombstones and hyperactive dry ice machines, have I got the film for you.

Aside from directing the film, Duff also plays the dual roles of Caroline and Victoria. One hundred years ago, married Caroline is canoodling with her crooning long-haired lover Jonathon (James Horan). When they are interrupted by Caroline's cross-bow-toting husband, he accidentally kills her when she leaps in front of Jonathan to protect him from the incoming arrow. The distraught Jonathan makes a deal with a local witch whereby he will return a hundred years in the future to reunite with her spirit, and sure enough, a century passes, and he emerges from a crypt at a nearby cemetery as a lovestruck vampire. He is eager to find his beloved Caroline, whose spirit has entered young, professional Victoria. While Jonathan kills everyone that stands in his way as he searches for her, Victoria has her own problems in the shape of her ex-husband Marty (Frank Brynbroek), who has been released early from prison after serving time for domestic violence. Will true love find its way?


Well, yes and no. Make no mistake, Marty is terrifying - this is a guy who literally murders his parole officer in the prison parking lot upon his release, which does not bode well for Victoria, whom he instantly sets about stalking and terrorizing. But, to be blunt, while Jonathan may be more of a romantic, he too is insanely violent, and his path to Victoria is one littered by the corpses of an increasing number of unfortunate bystanders. Whether Duff pits these two pretty horrible men against each other in a battle for Victoria to deliberately say something about men and violence or not, it regardless sets up a fascinating question for Victoria, who Duff brings to life with such warmth and kindness that it's hard not to fall for her ourselves: which shitty, violent man will Victoria end up with?

Victoria is, in this sense, sort of doomed either way - the question isn't do you want a life without male violence, but rather what kind of male violence you want in your life. According to this film's logic, male violence is ultimately inescapable, which can be seen as either an inadvertent narrative whoopsie or a brutal observation of real-world gender politics. Notably, this all stands in striking contrast to the strong, supportive women in her life. Before Marty's release, we meet Victoria's friend and colleague Rose (Jillian McWhirter) and, later, her protective aunt Zerelda (Marilyn O'Connor), characters who seem much more genuinely concerned with Victoria's wellbeing than either of the two men who profess to love her. Am I being too hard on Jonathon? Possibly, but don't let a poet in an ornate waistcoat fool you. Regardless, as a central character in one of the most strangely ambivalent vampire romances I've ever seen, he certainly makes his mark.