[Review] 'Sunset Society' Is A Low-Budget 'Lost Boys' On The Sunset Strip

Welcome to the world of the Sunset Society, a secret organization in Hollywood where parties are held, musicians gather and blood flows freely! This B-grade vampiric romp begins with an animated scene of Lemmy Kilmister (the late, great Motörhead frontman) narrating and participating in a game of poker at the "Raining Bow Bar." He soon finds out that his opponents are vampires and a bloody battle ensues. After slicing and dicing his way to victory, Lemmy (who's character goes by Ace) accidentally takes a shot that's been contaminated with vamp blood, thus becoming one of the undead. Ace then forms the Sunset Society, a secret organization of vampires.

Jump to the other half of the film (I'll get to this in a moment) and we are introduced to Charlie (Ben Stobber), who's coming home from a night at the club with two intoxicated "college girls". We all know what Charlie has in mind for the girls but his plans are put on hold by Mr. Cross (Robert Donavan) and his blood-thirsty henchman Burton (Josh Fallon). Apparently cross believes that Charlie is in possession of a video that could expose the Sunset Society to humans and put them all at risk. Charlie insists that he has no idea what Cross is talking about and points the finger at another vampire, Frankie (Ron Jeremy), who supposedly destroyed all of the videos. Of course, Cross doesn't buy it and orders that Charlie be "persuaded" further into spilling what he knows. Charlie is brutally tortured until Sophia (Phoebe Dollar) enters the room and reveals that she's had the video all along. She plays it and we're taken back to Ace and crew at the Sunset Society mansion and so begins the film within a film.

As I stated earlier, Sunset Society is comprised of two separate films that have been spliced together to create a rather disjointed and somewhat incohesive flick. The original, "Sunset Society portion" of the film was directed by Phoebe Dollar before Lemmy's passing in 2015 and the wraparound portion, featuring Charlie, was directed by Rolfe Kanefsky some time after. The differences in quality between the two parts are very recognizable, with the center film featuring shot on video, documentary style filmmaking and the wraparound boasting a much cleaner and professional look. This may bother some viewers but I honestly feel that it added more to the film in terms of creativity. Other than that, the plot is full of holes that have been filled with animated scenes in an attempt to tie the unfilmed parts together. These detracted from the experience for me, but I understand that with Lemmy's death, they were necessary to create the film.

The two main vampires featured in Sunset Society are Gage (Tracii Guns), a loose cannon of sorts that's constantly making careless mistakes and putting the Society at risk and Daggar (Dizzy Reed), who's bored with immortality and wants to be reverted back to human. Both actors did a great job with their roles, despite their limited experience. The two characters had more than their fair share of memorable moments, with one of my favorites involving Daggar being turned back into a human and completely regretting it. In terms of other acting performances in the film, they range from great to downright hokey. Ron Jeremy delivers a surprisingly great performance, on of the best in the film. Phoebe Dollar also did very well with her role as Sophia, who's creating the home video to commemorate her relationship with Ace. Of course, there's Lemmy, he's fantastic in any role...and God.

In terms of atmosphere and score, Sunset Society is a mixed bag. I really dug the shot-on-video aesthetic of the film, especially in the scenes that were filmed on the streets. I feel this filming style added to the dark and gritty atmosphere. As I said before, the animated sequences took me out of the experience, their visual novel style just contrasted too much with the actual film. The soundtrack, on the other hand, is phenomenal. Very brooding, very rock 'n roll, I give major props to Cleopatra Entertainment for putting it together. Songs from Motörhead (of course), The 69 Eyes, and Electric Hellfire Club are all very welcome and fitting additions to the film. Fans of rock and metal will want to own this soundtrack!

While Sunset Society is fairly basic in terms of special effects, there are some memorable and gory scenes to enjoy. Including one in which a vampire turns into fog, enters an unlucky girl, and tears his way out of her chest cavity. Other than that, and a couple other scenes, there's only typical vampire film violence to be seen.

Many will be quick to write this film off as just another B-grade vampire flick, but to metalheads and those who experienced the Sunset Strip in the '80s, this will be a rather fun and entertaining ride. Sunset Society isn't perfect but it doesn't need to be. This film oozes rock 'n roll and is a loving tribute to the sorely missed Lemmy Kilmister.

Sunset Society is available on VOD, DVD, and as a Limited Edition Blu-ray pack that includes the soundtrack CD and a 7" vinyl.


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