The Irish Vampire Goes West
7:30 pm Sunday, Nov. 1 (All Saints Day)
Beyond Baroque (Old City Hall),
681 Venice Blvd. Admission $7
By Jim Smith
Vampire films are in vogue again. As politics and the economy get weirder and weirder, and daily life often seems unreal, anything that is otherworldly or bizarre becomes more popular.
Most of these films are routine and predictable. Not so, The Irish Vampire Goes West, by Pegarty Long. This film reminds one of some of the writers and filmmakers that Pegarty Long admires. They include James Joyce, Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman and Alain Resnais.
Says Long, “I was not actually influenced by these filmmakers as much as I liked and connected with their films. I saw them while I was first making films. “But, when I began making films it was the constriction of the Super 8mm format to tell the story visually with voice-over verses onscreen intertitles, as in silent films, that led me to make films in the style that I do. Basically, they just came out of me that way. And then I saw how closely that particular experience on the screen was to the experience of the power of a dream and I liked that.”
Although it was filmed on location in Ireland, Venice, Topanga and downtown Los Angeles, it was, like the t-shirt says, Hecho in Venice. Several well-known Venice characters – as in character actors – have featured roles. It stars Philomene Long, Venice’s late poet laureate, as Manananaan (a feminized name of the Irish God of the sea). Vincent Coppola who plays the mad scientist, Dr. O’Nosital, was a regular on Ocean Front Walk for years where he walked his beautiful English Sheep dogs every evening at sunset. Buddha, one of Coppola’s dogs has a barking part in the film.
Venetian stage actress Lisa Robbins has a pivotal, but too short role, as well. The Associate Producer, Peter McCarthy, was a long time resident of Venice and shot his film Floundering in Venice. The second unit set decorator, Fawn Walenski, is a long-time Venice resident.
Others in the cast include Chris Payne Gilbert as the vampire, Vanquo. Gilbert is a well-known TV star who has appeared in CSI, Friends and Sex and the City. He’s completed two films since Irish Vampire including Refuge: The Movie and Murder World, also known as Pearblossom.
Long says she began writing the screenplay for The Irish Vampire Goes West in UCLA film school 35 years ago. Shooting began in December 2004 and was finally completed in 2009. The film received acclaim at a standing room only audience of film industry types and critics at a screening in August at the DeMille Theater on the Culver Studios lot. The Venice screening will be the first for a general audience.
Long laments the loss of theaters for art and independent films during the past few years. “We’ve lost the NuWilshire, Mayfair, the Fine Arts, a couple of venues in Westwood, and more,” says Long. The Fox Venice, which would have been an ideal location for the film has become a swap meet.
The Irish action takes place in County Cork. Some of the scenes are filmed in the Long ancestral farm, which is still in the family. The scene at the farm’s Georgianstyle mansion features Pegarty and Philomene’s aunt, Mary Coghlan. Several other Irish cousins have parts or worked in the film, including Bride and James Coughlan and Conor, Cecily and Natia Coghlan. (The cousins dispute the proper spelling of their last name.)
Two next generation cousins in Ireland, includes identilcal twin girls, Eimear and Daire Kiely, who play Little Girl Faeries.
The film score, by Vincent Gillioz, won the Best Film Score Award at last year’s Moondance Film Festival.
The film also includes songs by Ken O’Malley, a well-known Irish folksinger who lives in Los Angeles. He sings Raglan Road and Finnegan’s Wake. Long says this is the first Irish vampire film and is the second vampire film produced in Venice after Roger Corman’s 1966 film, Blood Bath.
Fans of Philomene Long’s poetry should get to the screening early. Her only poem is read in an opening scene. It’s appropriately named Ireland.
A trailer can be seen www.theirishvampiregoeswest.com