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Home arrow Entertainment arrow Dark Gallery arrow CITY OF THE VAMPIRES -- HORRORS THE CAMERA DIDN'T SEE
Written by By Ron Bonk   
Jun 06, 2004 at 02:00 AM
While traveling home after a visit with relatives, Sam Helling, along with his wife Gloria and his daughter Christine, accidentally takes a wrong turn and finds himself lost in the city of Braddock. Braddock has been dying for some time now, with the population dropping by nearly 75% in just three years. What the family sees is burned out buildings, long-abandoned and neglected homes, garbage, filth filling the streets. What they don't see is any signs of life. But Sam has the constant feeling that they are being watched.

After awhile, he is forced to stop and dig out a map. Young Christine, sitting quietly in the back seat, sees something out of the corner of her eye. She becomes mesmirized, and suddenly runs from the car. The parents scream out, and Sam bolts from the vehicle after her.
After running down alley after alley, he comes across a strange dark shape. He looks down to see his daughter within it's grasp. The creature turns on him, protective of it's prey. But then it sees the fear in Sam's eyes, and it starts to laugh. Sam runs away, leaving his daughter behind.
Cut to the police, searching. Gloria is up and running things, taking charge. She overhears some of the police near her, cracking jokes and pointing. She turns around, and stares a moment at her husband, huddle in a ball in the back seat of a cruiser, mumbling, shaking and crying.
Months pass with no word. The strain has been too much on Gloria, and she falls deathily ill. Sam, still shell-shocked to some degree, goes to her bed-side. Though their relationship is over, and Gloria has lost all respect for him, she makes him promise something before she dies. She makes him promise to find their daughter. "I know she's still alive," she manages before dying.
In the days that follow, Sam contemplates suicide. But he can't do it. Finally, figuring it's his last shot, he tucks a gun under his belt and hops in his vehicle, heading back to Braddock....
Continued next issue....


During production, many changes had to be made due to location, age of the actors, and a variety of other reasons. Here are some of the more notable alterations to keep an eye on:
Sam runs from thirty plus vampires.
Christine is Sam's daughter.
Sam is married to a woman named Gloria.
Matheson is a black MAN.
Sam, while searching the city, comes across a strange lady only known as "The Preacher Woman." She speaks crypticly, and warns him to get out of the city before sunset.
Sam lures Legion to an abandoned building, where he manages to trick the creature and destroy him.
The vampires attack Helling, but Matheson springs his trap. A wall of windows is revealed behind a large tarp, and the vampires explode in the sunlight.

My original idea for CITY came to me at JOHN RUSSO FILMMAKING SEMINAR. One evening, we were invited to watch a flick by a then unknown-to-me b-movie-maker by the name of J.R. Bookwalter. The title of the movie was KINGDOM OF THE VAMPIRE. Well, I thought he said VAMPIRE--"S", and had this vision of a lone man running through the streets of a dead city being chased down by the blood-thristy dead. When J.R.'s movie turned out to be more in the spirit of Romero's MARTIN, I decided to commit that idea to paper. I actually wrote two vampire scripts at once: CITY, and THE SAYR, VAMPIRE HUNTER (Orignally called THE SAYR, A TALE). KINGDOM, though it has some short-comings, will always be an important movie to me. When viewing it, I was impressed by the strong lighting, the quality direction, and competent acting. But what moved me the most was the format and budget -- s-vhs for $1500. Since I had decided to try and break into the movie busines just the year before, I had kept hearing that to make a movie you would have to shoot on film, and go out and raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. I seriously questioned whether I was willing to go into hock up to my eyeballs for the rest of my life on what was considered 1,000,000 to 1 odds. But now, I could make a movie, and pay for it right out of my own pocket!
Another interesting note to KINGDOM was that it starred a young actor named Matthew Jason Walsh. Even though I hadn't even considered it at the time, Matt would end up starring in CITY after a certain string of circumstances unrolled.
Finally, months later, I felt it was time to finally make a flick. Of the two scripts, I choose CITY, but not because I liked it better, but because it was much smaller and easier to pull off (it still had to be scaled down considerably). I absolutely loved THE SAYR, but rationalizing that this was my first movie, I concluded that I was going to screw a lot of it up, and thought it better to do something that wouldn't break my heart if it came out still-born. Basically, I feel this was my biggest mistake. I will never again put that much blood, sweat and tears into a project as involved as making a movie!
Pre-production of CITY began in Spring of 1993. Originally, I had planned a June shoot. But immediately, this became unfeasible. At the time, I worked almost full-time in the antique business. Well, our prime time for selling is during the summer. Unable to afford the cut in income, or the time to get things rolling, production was bumped back again and again.
Finally, realizing I was running out of time, and eager to make anything, I placed an ad for actors and crew, and began scouting locations. The calls poured in, but once I weeded out those expecting to make a living off my picture ($5 per shooting hour for actors, $0 for crew), I was left with about thirty hopeful thespians.
With almost no response for people willing to work crew, I decided to take that work load on myself. Mistake number two! I also didn't have the time or patience to set up audtions, so I had the actors send me pictures, and decided to cast off their looks alone. You guessed it -- mistake number three.
I explored around for locations. But most people weren't interested in helping out. One old man confused horror movie-making with devil-worship, and was afraid we would be leaving blood-drawn pentagrams all over his house. Another business owner said that "he didn't want video camera's anywhere near his business!" Even my own uncle was afraid I would be shooting dangerous scenes in his vacant rental house, and that somebody would get hurt and sue him! I finally did spot a couple abandoned labor yards that I figured I could sneak into. I also remembered an old complex of buildings I had come across years before called Midler's Court.
The owner there was the best, and let me have free reign over the place. $50 got me a morning, day and night at the complex. I eventually decided that my parent's basement could double as another location. City-wise, the less I told Syracuse, the better. But one of its suburbs, Solvay, was extremely cooperative. The owner of the TOMMY III video store gave me permission to shoot on her doorstep. Eventually, the only locale I had failed to secure was that of the abandoned warehouse for the final, climatic scene.
Along the way, I met an individual by the name of Walt Sheppard. Walt ran a group called The Media Unit, which worked out of the Civic Center in Syracuse, and was comprised of a number of young, practising actors. They would turn out to be the most dedicated of groups once camera's started to roll.
Walt referred me on to a man by the name of Damond Bear, who he explained did a "Mechanical Vampire" act. Heading out to meet Damond, I had visions of elaborate animatronics. But it turned out that what he did do was a mime act. Damond would perform at local fairs, dressed as Dracula himself, and would just stand very still. People would stare at him, wondering if he was live, or Memorex.
But Damond wasn't what you would expect -- a skinny, small, white-faced mute. No Damond was rather large, his body lean of fat from years of the isometric exercises that his occupation entailed. He also had a vivid imagination, and lots of ideas for scenes in the movie. One such "inspired" moment had me as the driver of a limo, and him as a mysterious occupant in back. He orders me to pull over and open his door. Mist surrounds me as he steps out. "This will do fine," he hisses, then breaks my neck. His fangs slip into my still warm throat.
Okay, so everybody has a movie idea. My only complaint with Damond's was that he choose to act them out on me. He would grab me by the neck, his large fingers touching tip to tip, and twist my head from side to side, repeating "Crack, crack," again and again. Afraid I was missing the magnitude of this scene, he would repeat it over and over endlessly. I didn't even resist, afraid that if I did so, he would unwittingly snap my neck. There I was, at the end of his outstretched arms, feet barely touching the ground, and my head lolling from side to side. Eventually, I got out, with promises to call him back in a few days. Needless to say, I never did.
Finally, I heard from a young man named Billy Walters. He shared my enthusiasm for making movies, and even had some minor acting experience. Seeing his pictures, he looked to me to be the perfect incarnation of Sam Helling. Diane Bostick, a local, psychotic thespian would play Gloria, and Kathryn Grener of The Media Unit would play Christine.
Along with Billy came Glenn Miller. He had long hair combed straight back, and mean, evil eyes. Now I had my Legion!
It was August of 1993, and we were ready to begin...

User Comments

Comment by Andy on 2015-10-22 22:12:10
It’s totally roaintmc. I mean heroic.(I mean roaintmc.)They’re both crying. If one of them was a woman, this would be the moment where they started kissing passionately, but instead they’re manly bros and Charles tells him to get back out there and win it for the hometown, ass-slapping implied. I WANT TO READ THE FANFIC VERSION OF THEIR STORY just saying. During the entire movie, I decided the real reason they became enemies was because their affair ended badly. I wanted them to make sweet mutant love and adopt the younglings and live happily ever after. Just me?Also, if I looked like January Jones, I would never wear anything to cover my belly. Ever. And then I would stare at myself all day for having the perfect belly and being able to wear white without spilling anything on it. You did a GREAT job recapping this. Creepy-uncleing is my new favorite verb.

Comment by Nilza on 2015-10-23 04:53:18
Thanks anon.The article phblisued on Seattle Times is very well written.The speech he delivered on the luncheon didn't interest me (I can understand - what can you expect from a 20-min talk?) very much. But he impressed me a lot.I came back and did some research about him. And that amazed me. So i decided to write something about him. I must write about this person - what he has done deeply moves me.Thanks for your feedback and the links you provided.no, we chose another picture - but somewhat similar with this one. We found that picture from wikipedia.

Comment by Muhammet on 2015-10-24 19:03:24
sweet things about her prtety blue body. Never-mind that he also used animal terms instead of you're a prtety, smart, awesome young woman and your foster brother's a sexy, smart SEXY meanie head who doesn't appreciate either of us . But then you can only expect so much from a kid torture-raised by a Creepy-Uncle.I loved LOVED the genuine teenager-ness of the kids! Too often it feels forced and insincere, but those actors felt like real kids who have finally realized they're with peers who UNDERSTAND THEM! Like when Dancers get together and show off all their tricks. http://bfifpqw.com [url=http://qeidcwmtvs.com]qeidcwmtvs[/url] [link=http://epwomr.com]epwomr[/link]

Comment by Hilda on 2015-10-26 07:01:18
Nice story.It did make me feel proud to be Canadian to see him waved the flag eight times.By the way, over the years he learned to speak Cantonese and that was also a plnesaat surprise to many Chinese Vancouverites too.P.S. It put a slight smile on my face to read "當香港只有一位火炬手需要乘坐輪椅時 ..."

Comment by Sagrario on 2015-10-27 22:16:50
good-bye, but I felt like she was saying Good-bye? to Charles the whole movie, he just wasn't litniseng. All of their interactions were basically her checking to see if he still thought of her as a Pet, and him confirming that yes, he thought of her as less than human. Or mutant. Her not saying the words seemed to be her final declaration of independence. And while I don't agree with their methods after the fact, I'm pretty much on Erik and Raven's side in this situation. http://svyovj.com [url=http://phehofohtl.com]phehofohtl[/url] [link=http://yirzzsrqei.com]yirzzsrqei[/link]
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