I was a sucker for horror-comedies pre-pandemic, but now they’ve become more than a guilty pleasure. Horror-comedies have become a coping mechanism. Hawk and Rev becomes medicine I will happily take to get me through the end of this period of time.
Along with laughter, the benefits of horror fans’ morbid curiosity have been well documented as of late, but little is known about the power of combining the two. I don’t need a study to confirm what I already know: horror-comedies are my happy place. As such, it’s no wonder that my three favorite movies from the past year were all dark comedies: Bad Candy, Lake Michigan Monster, and, now, Hawk and Rev: Vampire Slayers.
Hawk and Rev, takes it one step further by paying homage to the classic horror-comedies from the 80’s. I loved the poster, but it was the synopsis that really grabbed my attention:
“Hawk & Rev: Vampire Slayers tells the story of Philip ‘Hawk’ Hawkins. Hawk doesn’t just dream about killing vampires, he eats, sleeps, drinks and freakin’ breaths it! After getting kicked out of the army for staking a fellow soldier with a blunt two by four, Hawk almost dies of boredom working as a night security guard in his hometown of Santa Muerte, California. Just when it looks like all Hawk’s options in life have expired, filthy blood-sucking vampires appear and of course — nobody believes him! With his back up against the wall, his sweaty Karate Kid headband on, and hordes of murderous vampires closing in, Hawk enlists the help of the one person who kind of believes him: Revson ‘Rev’ McCabe, a dimwitted, vegan-pacifist groundskeeper. Together they join forces to save the whole entire freakin’ world! Well, at least their hometown anyway.”
Finally, once I saw the trailer I knew this was going to be one hell-of-a good time. Luckily for me, the movie was not only fantastic but also the final feature at Phoenix FearCON.
I love when movies set the tone with the opening scene. In this one, we open with a man walking through an alley at night, while talking on the phone. Not only are his lines perfectly outrageous, but he’s also a local MMA champ and self-proclaimed tough guy who gets effortlessly torn to shreds. As I watched the scene play out, I knew this was exactly what I needed in my life. I needed a fun and silly escape.
From the opening scene, the movie introduces its homeless star, Hawk, who is played by the film’s writer, director, and producer Ryan Barton-Grimley (a different type of RBG). It doesn’t take long to learn that Hawk has recently been discharged from the military for staking another soldier for being a vampire. It was a classic he said, they said situation. Hawk said Private Dirkman was a vampire, which is why he staked him. The military said he staked his fellow soldier because Hawks was a paranoid schizophrenic. In the end, Hawk was discharged and now working as a security guard, living in a tent within his parent’s back yard.
Hawk is wound a bit tight, but this is where RBG shines in the leading role. Seeing a petulant middle-aged white man with anger issues take matters into his own hands has gone sour over the years. RBG however, manages to come across more like the harmlessly intense Dwight Schrutes or Ron Swansons as opposed to the Zimmermans or McMichaels of the world. With that potential issue out of the way, I was able to sit back and enjoy discovering if Hawk was just daft enough to save Santa Muerte, California from being overrun by vampires.
In need of support, Hawk recruits his best-friend, Rev (Ari Schneider) to help slay the undead creatures of the night. The only issue is that Rev refuses to harm anything, even undead scum who feed on the blood of the innocent. However, he does come around and approve the use of organic, locally-grown, garlic, gardening tools, tai chi, and a thimble of holy water to defend themselves against the vampires.
Rev provides the balance to Hawk’s manic rage. The dialogue back and forth between the two is the highlight of the movie. It is s very subtle humor that turns silly at times, but still really works for me.
Along with Rev, there is the sexually enlightened reporter, Theo (Jana Savage), and Hawk’s former military prison cellmate, Jasper (Richard Gayler) who round out the makeshift vampire slayers club. Theo and Jasper both play a major role in the film’s climactic scene, which was worth a watch in and of itself.
In the end, Hawk and Rev: Vampire Slayers proved to be a solid independent horror-comedy. It was well-written, self-aware, skillfully overacted, with an amazing soundtrack, and buckets of blood. While more The ‘Burbs (1989) than The Lost Boys (1987), and far from 80% horror and 20% comedy ratio that Joe Bob Briggs argues makes the perfect horror-comedy in the documentary, In Search of Darkness ll, Hawk and Rev, is an enjoyable tribute to classic 80’s horror when idiots were regularly charged with saving the world.
Kyle Feuerbach is a high school teacher with a passion for horror books and movies. When he is not teaching, running a fitness business with his wife, or spending time with his son, he is likely reading, writing, or repairing manual typewriters.