Suck (2009)

I picked up a copy of Suck yesterday in a local charity shop. It’s one of these films that I’ve been afraid to watch up until now – not because vampire movies ever scare me but because I’m an Iggy Pop fan and when critics bothered to review Suck they tended to put the boot in. In short, most of them thought the film sucked. Hopefully, Iggy wasn’t part of a cringeworthy failure.

Time to pour myself a glass of Eldorado and stick the disc in my blu-ray player. Or, to put it another way, it’s time to suck it and see.

First seen at the 2009 at the Toronto International Film Festival, Suck is a Canadian music comedy/vampire/road movie/love story with a little stop motion animation thrown into the mix too. It was written and directed by Rob Stefaniuk, who also stars as Joey, the leader of The Winners, a band who in the ten years or so of their existence have failed to make much of an impact in the world of rock. Yes, their name is ironic.

Now they’re on the verge of splitting up and even their manager advises them to fire him in their best interests. He reckons they’re getting too long in the tooth, geddit?

That same night, bassist Jennifer (Jessica Paré), falls prey to Queeny, a mysterious vampire who looks like a cross between Marilyn Manson and the Mad Hatter. She becomes one of the undead, and acquires an icy and alluring charisma that immediately attracts attention whenever she’s onstage. And not only from newfound fans but also Eddie Van Helsing, a hopeless vampire hunter who’s afraid of the dark, played by Malcolm McDowell.

Could the band be about to finally achieve their dream of stardom?

Jessica Pare - Suck

Suck is maybe most notable for the famous musicians in the cast. In addition to Iggy, there’s roles for Alice Cooper (hooray), Moby (boo), and Henry Rollins (meh).

And if by any chance you’ve been wondering who America’s most gnarled rocker is, after seeing this you’ll likely agree that Iggy just edges it over Alice – and he proves how indestructible he is when, even after he’s had his throat slashed, his veins can still be seen visibly pulsing as he lies on the ground dead. Okay, that is probably just a production gaff.

Iggy_Pop_in_Suck

So, what of the music on the soundtrack?

Well, there’s snippets of David Bowie’s cover of Here Comes the Night, Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ by The Velvet Underground and Iggy’s Success, none of them used very imaginatively. And then there’s plenty of music from The Winners. Most of this is generic fictional movie indie rock band tracks which didn’t leave much of an impression on me, but then something strange happened. I kinda fell in love with one of their songs.

So Close It Hurts is entirely atypical of the kind of thing The Winners generally play and if I’d came across this without knowing anything about it, I’d maybe have imagined some obscure Power Pop act from some place like Providence, Rhode Island, who once supported The Cars in 1978. They would be called something like The Harmonies. Or The Pleasures. Well, Power Pop acts did tend to give themselves the most bog standard of names, didn’t they? Actually The Winners might have been an ideal name.

Written by Rob Stefaniuk and John Kastner and performed by Rob Stefaniuk, John Kastner, Chris Phillips, Mathias Schneeberger, Tomas D’Arcy, this is So Close It Hurts (with added lyrics and other distractions by the uploader):

You may have picked up on the hommage to the cover of Electric Warrior at the end of that video, which is maybe a reference to Marc Bolan who on that album’s best track Jeepster, sang: ‘I’m just a vampire for your love / And I’m gonna suck you.’ It’s not the only hommage to a classic album cover, so if you decide to watch Suck, look out for the others.

The verdict?

Suck doesn’t take itself remotely seriously and doesn’t overstay its welcome either. It’s better than I expected, albeit I obviously had fairly low expectations beforehand and more than one glass of Eldorado during its runtime. Iggy and Alice both give creditable enough performances and I did laugh a couple of times, although some of the comedy fell flat.

A fun watch for a Friday night when you’ve got nothing else on.

Trivia: If you’re wondering how such a low-budget movie managed to de-age Malcolm McDowell so convincingly, then here’s yer answer. Footage of him from Lindsay Anderson’s 1973 film O Lucky Man! was spliced in through the use of CGI.