|Gustav Vintas and The Crypt Keeper|
There has always been a serious lack of imagination in Hollywood which is all the more strange when you consider the fact that this town is often referred to as "The Dream Factory.” I was watching Sir Christopher Lee receiving his BAFTA award the other night on YouTube and wondered who, if anyone, would pick up the torch for the horror genre after he is gone. The circle is now basically down to him with the passing of Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, and a number of character actors, who, on occasion, played the villain in many a thriller from days gone by.
I was thinking of Alan Rickman as a possible contender if he ever chose to make a horror film, after all, he is a fantastic talent and has played the Gothic role in the HARRY POTTER films, so it would not be to difficult to envision him as say, Roderick Usher, or even a vampire if the situation ever were to present itself.
I was however thinking of yet another actor whom I got to know slightly thanks in part to the American Film Market, as well as, a beautiful young man named Christopher Nee, whom I met at the aforementioned film market and told me about a horror flick he was in entitled VAMPIRE AT MIDNIGHT which was screening the very next afternoon. I noticed on the flyer he gave me that the film starred Jason William whose name was not unknown to me from the cult film FLESH GORDON, but that was a few years ago even then (1988).
So I attended the screening and while the film itself was disappointing and dull, the villain of the piece was not, in fact, Gustav Vintas (what a great name for a horror star} reminded me of Udo Kier with a dash of Robert Quarry. Vintas is an Argentine actor of surprising range who played the title character in this lackluster flick with great style and panache. I became a fan of his on the spot, but the film, however, let him down in ways that made it understandable to me why he didn't immediately get better roles after proving himself to have what it takes to carry a film. This so called "vampire" film makes his character a psycho who only thinks he is a vampire so any supernatural quality is deflated about half way through the film.
I also found the character Christopher Nee's was given filled with possibilities….a pretty boy slave to the vampire (very Anne Rice), however, nothing is developed with this and way too much screen time is given to the wrong characters. Well, what can you expect from a hack director working with a limp screenplay that plays like a mediocre “Night Stalker” episode.
I finally used my film market contacts to locate Mr. Vintas and we managed to connect for a couple of lively conversations where I discovered this guy was not only very funny but multitalented, as he performs one-man-shows of such diverse persona's as Maurice Chevalier and Charles Beaudlaire. It wasn't too long after the ‘Vampire’ screening that Gustav was cast in the Madonna music video EXPRESS YOURSELF. This was Madonna at the height of her popularity and the video was outstanding in every way. It was shot like an homage to Lang's METROPOLIS with Vintas playing the mastermind of futuristic capital with a nod to Ulmer's THE BLACK CAT as well. When this aired, I was sure Gustav was on his way to bigger and better roles as Hollywood's new villain in residence. He did secure roles in big budget films like LETHAL WEAPON, as well as, several top TV shows.
The next time I would hear about Gustav was once again at the American Film Market, this time in a film starring Lynn Redgrave as a ‘Vampira’-type horror hostess, made up a bit like Elvira. This film was called MIDNIGHT and once again directed by a hack and written with little regard for the genre it wished to lampoon. It was a waste of talent for all concerned. When I ran into Lynn Redgrave at the opening night party, I mentioned I had met Gustav, causing her to smile broadly, telling me, “Well, David ,his death scene was a real hoot…you see he just fell to the floor and curled up like a snake.”
During the previews for MIDNIGHT at the AFM, Gustav was quoted as saying, “I have Transylvanian blood in my veins" and I took this to be his bid, for at the very least, the next ‘Count Yorga’, which by the way, should be remade with Gustav ASAP. I haven't heard from Mr. Vintas in years but while I was preparing this blog entry, I was happy to discover he has a website for himself, as well as, his one-man-show, MERCI MAURICE.