The British have always been good at horror and comedy and we seem to have a particular penchant for mixing the two, which brings us nicely to Fanged Up.
Jimmy Ragsdale, Daniel O’Reilly (Dapper Laughs (TV)), is a wide-boy cockney. Acting like he’s the king of the castle he inadvertently sets off a fight at the local strip club where he works as a pot-washer.
Arrested, he is told he’ll spend the weekend at Stokesville prison, the very name of which sends shivers down the spines of coppers and cons alike.
When Jimmy gets into a fight and is sent to see the prison doctor, he’s surprised to find his ex, Katie, Danielle Harold (Eastenders (TV), Casualty (TV)), is said doctor. She visits the Governor to try and get Jimmy out, only to witness the Governor and his assistant Renfield, Lauren Socha (Misfits (TV), The Child), performing a ritual.
Jimmy quickly learns that Stokesville is a strange prison, not least because the Governor, Steven Berkoff (Octopussy, A Clockwork Orange), likes to feed the inmates at midnight, but also because it’s staffed by vampires.
So begins Jimmy and Katie’s night of adventure to escape the clutches of the prison of vampires, along with Stu Bennett (Eliminators, WWE Raw (TV)) and Vas Blackwood (Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, Mean Machine).
Fanged Up is very much in the style of other lower budget British horror comedies such as Cockney’s Vs Werewolves. There’s blood galore, the comedy can be hit and miss and they won’t win any awards for female roles.
However, when the comedy hits the mark, it is funny and the violence and gore is splendid, without ever being too much or too gratuitous.
Fanged Up is directed by Christian James (Freak Out, Stalled) and written by Nick Nevern (Terry, The Hooligan Factory), Daniel O’Reilly and Dan Palmer (Freak Out, Stalled).
The film (or this could have been the preview copy we were provided) is very dark. I don’t mean in a Batman Dark Knight kind of way I mean in a someone turn the lights on kind of way.
Sometimes scenes are so dark you can’t actually see what’s going on. There could be budgetary reasons for this, or it could have been done to add menace or suspense to scenes, what it actually does is rankle after a while and feels like you’re watching secret footage filmed from a bag.
There are also scenes that just go on a little too long meaning, despite the brisk running time of one hour and 25 minutes, the pace feels slow, particularly at the beginning. Some tighter editing would have made the film zip along and bring the laughs, and action, quicker.
Having said that, there are some genuinely brilliant set-pieces here, one particular stand-out when a prisoner ends up jumping through a hole in the vampire cook’s midriff to try and reach a gun, coming stuck whilst she decides how best to kill him so she can feast on his blood.
If there’s one major problem with Fanged Up it’s with the lead character. Jimmy is a hard protagonist to like, being this cockney wide-boy heavy on the self-deprecation and even heavier on the obnoxiousness. Some may like it, but it irked me after a while like nails on a blackboard.
The stand-out of the film is, without doubt, former wrestler and boxer Stu Bennett. With his deadpan approach, faux Russian accent and general acting ability, he stands head and shoulders above the rest, both literally and figuratively.
Fanged Up is a decent vampire, comedy horror with blood galore and some OTT acting. It’s Porridge, with fangs.