Forget Count Dracula and Vlad the Impaler. According to this schlocky new horror flick, vampires are the progeny of eight knights who made a pact with the Devil during the first Crusade. 900 years later, four remain to spread the infection across the deserted highways of south-west America. Much to the chagrin of Sean (Kerr Smith), whose rash decision to pick up a hitch-hiker while driving from Los Angeles to Florida swiftly embroils him in a surreal and very gory nightmare.
Sean, en route to his sister's wedding in a vintage Mercedes, will rue the day he stopped to give Nick (Brendan Fehr) and Megan (Izabella Miko) a ride. For they are infected with the virulent plague of vampirism, and soon Sean is too. The only way to stop becoming a creature of the night is to hunt down and kill the host organism - namely Kit (Johnathon Schaech), one of the original eight Crusaders who now leads a band of acolytes like some supernatural version of Charles Manson.
Written and directed by J S Cardone, "The Forsaken" plays down the more lurid aspects of the vampire legend - no fangs, crucifixes or silver bullets - in an attempt to free the genre from its gothic roots. The problem is he inadvertently removes everything that makes the horror genre fun. Compared with "The Lost Boys", "Interview With The Vampire" and "Buffy, The Vampire Slayer", "The Forsaken" is positively anaemic. It's idea of the undead as nomadic trailer trash was developed far more compellingly in Kathryn Bigelow's "Near Dark".
"The Forsaken" is released in UK cinemas on 7th September 2001.Read what Kim Newman has to say on the subject of the undead.