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Ankle Biters (2002) Review

Ankle Biters (Cover#1)ANKLE BITERS (2002)

Dir: Adam Minarovich

Starring: Adam Minarovich, Micheal Moore, Timothy Fahey, Jamie Burch, Catherine Brissey.

Running Time: 81 minutes.

The late film critic Pauline Kael once said, “If you can’t enjoy a really bad movie, then you don’t truly love movies.” On the whole I would agree with that, but every once in a while a film comes along that makes a mockery of that statement, and Ankle Biters is just such a movie. The title leads you to expect a comic horror involving vampire babies, something along the lines of Larry Cohen’s It’s Alive (1973). Then you realise that the Ankle Biters of the title are played by little people.

There have been films in the past to focus specifically on little people. Following his interesting 1937 western Harlem On The Prairie featuring all African American cast, producer Jed Buell decided to follow it up with another gimmick western, this time featuring a cast made up entirely of little people. The resulting film called Terror In Tiny Town (1938) just ended up mocking it’s actors by showing them riding around on Shetland Ponies. Werner Herzog’s Even Dwarves Started Small (1970) was much better. A bleak and misanthropic film where the short actors were seen on sets designed for normal sized people, a metaphor for man’s alienation from the world. Tod Browning’s Freaks (1932) also treated its short actors with respect…Ankle Biters pretty much picks up where Terror In Tiny Town left off.

Ankle#1Drexel Vennis (played by director Adam Minarovich) is one of a small band of people fighting to rid the world of the Ankle Biters, little people who have been turned into vampires. He is aided by his sidekick T-Bone (Micheal Moore) himself a little person who was rescued by Drexel when his parents were turned into vampires, and John Marcus (Timothy Fahey).

Marcus doesn’t really trust Drexel because he too is a vampire, a halfbreed and the last in the bloodline descended from Pavlon, the last tall vampire. As Drexel explains, the vampires of diminutive stature can only turn their own kind into vampires, so the spread of the vampire outbreak is very slow. But the leader of the Ankle Biters, Korel (Jamie Burch), and his crew of vertically challenged vampires are in the process of acquiring the sword of Pavlon, a weapon adorned with a jewel that contains his blood, the blood of the last tall vampire. With this weapon, they will finally be able to turn any normal sized human into a vampire and take over the world.

To give the film its due, there is a lot of ankles bitten so the film at least lives up to its title, but that’s where the good news ends. The directing, writing and photography are abysmal beyond belief. The editing is the worst since Mardi Grass Massacre (1978) and the acting…The performances by the supporting actors are so inept that you start to suspect that they were deliberately cast to make Minarovich, Micheal Moore and Timothy Fahey look half way decent by contrast. When the characters aren’t saying lines such as, “It’s time to multiply at club chaos”, they are quoting well known moments like the “show me the money” speech from Jerry Maguire (1996) that just makes you wish you watching that film instead.

At least one of the Ankle Biters looks like he’s styled his look on a member of the band ZZ Top, there’s a scene in which a woman is punched in the face for comedic effect, and the end titles feature a song called ‘Three Feet Tall’, the entire lyrics of which are “Three Feet Tall, Two Inch Fangs”. The song is by a band calling themselves Catatonic…there’s a hidden subtext to that, I’m sure. The contact lenses worn in several sequences by director Minarovich are impressive, but they ought to be as that’s probably where the entire budget went.

Ankle#2The inspiration for this travesty seems to be Stephen Norrington’s Blade (1998). There are at least half a dozen times during this film when you look back on worst aspects of that trilogy like Ryan Reynolds’s crassly misjudged “Cock juggling thunder cunt” outburst directed at Parker Posey in Blade: Trinity (2004) with a sense of wistful nostalgia. You get the sense that it was never the intention of Minarovich and his associates to be insulting, it’s just extremely ill judged, and as a result ends up compounding its ineptitude with genuine offence making it the greatest indignity to be inflicted on people of diminutive statue since Randy Newman’s ‘Short People’. Okay, to be fair, Newman’s song was a misunderstood song about prejudice…and he never once referred to a little person as a “Sawn off bastard” for a laugh.

Director and star Adam Minarovich went on to make several more films featuring many of the same people including Wiseguys Vs. Zombies (2003) but is now best know for his short stint as the character Ed Peletier on AMC’s series The Walking Dead. I guess that means he’s partly forgiven for this mess.

Rating: 0 / 10

Daniel Stillings

Daniel Stillings

About Daniel Stillings

About Daniel Stillings Daniel is a little strange, the result of being traumatised watching a videotape of Zombie Flesh-Eaters when he was 11. He once had a picnic where they shot The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue (a fact he was unaware of at the time) loves Jean-Luc Godard and Steven Seagal movies (if only they'd collaborate) and hates mobile phones. He also plays guitar in a covers band, but secretly yearns to be a member of The Residents...or maybe he already is!
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