The official website of Actor & Digital Filmmaker Jeff Kirkendall
This page is dedicated to my 2003 independent vampire feature THE TEMPTRESS. It contains a history of the movie, plot details, cast and crew credits, quotes from reviewers, and a large gallery of photos from the production. Click the thumbnails to see the full-sized photos.
"This movie is an example of how an independent director, with a little bit of creativity, and a good amount of blood, can keep an audience entertained. ...I was especially impressed with the ending of the film." - The Bloody Good Horror Page
(See more kind words about THE TEMPTRESS at the bottom of the page.)
The credits for the movie are as follows:
Very Scary Productions presents* A Kirkendall/Carolus production* A Jeff Kirkendall picture* "THE TEMPTRESS"
Starring Jennifer Birn* Heather Blossom Brown* James Carolus* Timothy Jay Hatch* Mary Kay Hilko* Jennifer Lescovich* Amy Naple
and Karen Wallingford* Co-Producer Timothy Jay Hatch* Produced by Jeff Kirkendall & James Carolus*
Written & Directed by Jeff Kirkendall
Some brief production history and facts about the movie:
THE TEMPTRESS is an independent horror movie which my production partner James Carolus and I first began working on around March of 2000. It was one of the most ambitious scripts I've written, and as mentioned above was the first movie I produced using digital video equipment. Therefore I was very enthusiastic about the new quality level, and it was a very exciting undertaking. The movie was produced entirely in Upstate New York, and several actors who appeared in my past short films are in this one, in addition to many new faces. It's worth noting that actresses Mary Kay Hilko & Amy Naple, who play Rose and Angelique respectively - the head baddies in the movie - were stars of the 1998 cult vampire epic SHADOW TRACKER: VAMPIRE HUNTER. The THE TEMPTRESS was my fifth movie production. We completed the editing on this movie near the end of 2002, and premiered the picture in Upstate New York's Capital Region in early 2003. Thank you to everybody who has written expressing interest in the movie. Your support is greatly appreciated! THE TEMPTRESS was inspired by the 1998 short film 3 TO MURDER. The movie follows the exploits of Karen, Rachael and Tina, three women living a relatively subdued suburban existence. Their peaceful nights quickly come to an end when the evil and powerful vampire Angelique pays the girls a visit. With the help of her followers she soon forces a confrontation between the two groups as the past comes to life and secrets are revealed... Other characters involved in this battle include a mild-mannered young man and a sadistic jewel thief.
"The action heats up quickly... and the bloodletting begins..."
An extended production history of THE TEMPTRESS: note - contains movie spoilers
THE TEMPTRESS was my fifth independent movie production and the first one I produced using the (then) relatively new Mini DV (digital video) format. It was originally written as a sequel of sorts to my 1999 short film 3 TO MURDER. I say sequel of sorts because the script basically took several of the main characters from that film and put them into a larger (full-length) story, while at the same time partially continuing from where the first movie left off. Like many other writers have done I attempted to make this sequel one that could be enjoyed on its own terms both by those who had seen the first movie and also those who hadn’t. In other words it was a stand-alone story with strong ties to its predecessor. The original title on the script for THE TEMPTRESS was 3 To Murder: Part Two.
Before delving into the story and production of THE TEMPTRESS I believe it would make sense to first take a closer look at 3 TO MURDER, which is included as an extra on the The Temptress Special Edition DVD. The running time on 3 TO MURDER is approximately 40 minutes, and the short film tells the story of Karen, Rachael and Tina - three young women living in a house on the outskirts of a small town in Upstate New York. (Like many of my other movie productions I set the story in Upstate New York because that’s where I, and Very Scary Productions, reside). The three women each have distinct personalities. Dark-haired Rachael (Eileen McCashion) is the obvious leader of the group and could be described as sharp, practical and serious, while still exuding an air of mystery. Blonde-haired Tina (Jennifer Lescovich) is outgoing and flirtatious, and has a definite wild streak about her. She wears a bikini while sitting in her backyard and is basically a fun party girl. And finally Karen (Jennifer Birn), who is shorter than her two housemates and has long and wavy dark hark, can best be described as being childlike and cute. In fact she sometimes talks in a rambunctious manner and often carries a teddy bear around with her. Rachael complains at one point that Karen needs to grow up. The women make an interesting group to say the least.
The rather mysterious ladies have the strange habit of sitting out in their backyard late into the evening, and as a result attract the unwanted attention of a gang of criminals who are ransacking houses in the area (hence the title 3 TO MURDER). They also attract the attention of a young man named Ronnie living nearby (Timothy Jay Hatch), who becomes fascinated by his sexy new neighbors. Ronnie is the one truly good and kindhearted character in the movie, and his only major weakness, if it can be called that, is being inexperienced with the opposite sex (he’s never had a girlfriend). The movie starts out innocently enough with Ronnie being awakened early one morning by the alarm clock set by his rather odd and quirky mother Mrs. Munson (Ellen Williams). She is by far the most comedic character in the movie, in that she takes great pleasure in keeping her son on the straight and narrow by doing such things as waking him up much earlier than he needs to be up, throwing out his girly magazines, and attempting to keep him away from “young hooligans” (as she puts it) like his new friend David. We then meet David (James Carolus), the rather suave and sophisticated leader of the aforementioned criminal gang - a guy who always looks like he has every situation in hand and is cool, calm and collective. After this Ronnie and David have a talk and it is revealed the two have become friends of sort, due in part to a chance meeting in the neighborhood, although Ronnie is unaware of the unlawful activities David is a part of. The next scene highlights the gangs’ exploits and was modeled after the type of shock scenario reminiscent of notorious 70’s and 80’s exploitation movies like I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE and Wes Craven’s THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (sans the nudity in those controversial, violent films). Other members of David’s gang seen here are the psychotic and ruthless Cruze (played by yours truly), and the tough, mostly silent JoJo (Jason Palmer), two characters who have little in the way of redeeming qualities. The gang finishes off a hapless victim (played by Mary Kay Hilko from SHADOW TRACKER: VAMPIRE HUNTER) in this scene, and throughout the rest of the movie running time Ronnie and David scheme to set up a date with the three ladies. They spend quite a lot of time spying on them in the bushes outside the ladies’ yard, with Ronnie being hopeful about finally landing a girlfriend and David and his cohorts expecting a bigger score (so to speak). (In fact, a play on words David uses is saying that the he and the gang will all “get some”, meaning sex and/or stolen items from the ladies’ house). However the conclusion of 3 TO MURDER presents a twist of events as the ladies reveal a surprise or two of their own and several characters get their comeuppance in a decidedly violent and gruesome manner. I won’t spell out precisely what happens, but let’s just say the movie turns from essentially a crime drama into a horror film ala FROM DUSK TIL DAWN (which probably is spelling it out for those who have seen that Quentin Tarantino flick).
3 TO MURDER was my third in a series of short films produced along with fellow Upstate New York filmmaker and actor Timothy Jay Hatch. I met Tim in the mid 1990’s after he put out an ad looking for people to work with him on an independent film he was producing along with friend Jason Palmer called THE COMPANIONS. Although Tim was basically searching for actors at the time, I had experience shooting video and wound up doing much of the camera work on that production, along with appearing in the movie. THE COMPANIONS was a classic medieval-type story about a young hero who rescues a beautiful queen from the clutches of an evil knight. It involved a lot of action, fight scenes and sword fights and was basically a low-budget, shot-on-video movie that was quite a bit of fun to make. Most of the movie was shot outdoors around Tim’s house in a rural Upstate New York area with a lot of land and open spaces surrounding it. Tim starred in the film as did Jason Palmer, and the remainder of the cast was made up of other local actors from Upstate New York. THE COMPANIONS was one of my early production experiences around the time I graduated from college, and after this movie Tim, Jason Palmer and I continued to collaborate. Tim helped me produce my first directorial short film, a horror-comedy called NIGHT THERAPY about a therapist who talks to three patients concerning their experiences with a disembodied head.
And while we were producing 3 TO MURDER, Tim and I were also concurrently producing another short film of mine called THE GREEN-EYED MONSTER, a movie about a girl who is home alone one Halloween night and is contacted by a mysterious, possibly supernatural voice over a dead channel on the radio. Additionally, Tim and Jason Palmer also both starred in my first feature TERROR OF THE MASTER, a vampire movie I produced in the summer of 1996. So I was very fortunate to have had a lot going on during the mid to late 1990’s, thanks in no small part to the fact that I knew enthusiastic, hardworking, talented people who owned video equipment and were interested in movie production.
After completing the three aforementioned short films I decided it was time to try my hand at another feature. Around the year 2000 I purchased my first video camera – the 3-chip Sony DCR-TRV900, a “prosumer” model I had invested a lot of time in researching. That is to say I compared camera reviews and information and, after looking at several different digital cameras, chose the TRV-900 over similar competing models. This camera was introduced in 1999 and was appealing for several reasons, the most obvious of which being it was said to deliver very good picture quality for an affordable price. The advent of consumer digital video was just beginning at this time, and I knew from what I had read about digital video cameras in general that they produced very clear, crisp images in comparison to older consumer (analog) formats such as VHS, 8mm and HI8 video. The reason for this being that digital video is a lossless format, and unlike those older formats the image and sound quality do not suffer when the video is transferred from one tape to another, or in the case of DV from the camera to the computer and possibly back to the camera once again. Digital cameras also provide more lines of horizontal resolution than their analog predecessors, thereby producing a sharper picture. I also knew from my research into DV that most cameras in my price range were one-chip models, whereas affordable 3-chip cameras were more of a rarity at that time. While all digital cameras introduced in those years greatly exceeded the picture quality performance of analog video, 3-chip models were said to get a slightly sharper, more detailed and colorful picture than the more prevalent one-chip models. And the Sony DCR-TRV900 got some of the best overall ratings in this category when price was also factored into the equation. It was also a very professional-looking, but still compact, camera. So I was fortunate to be able to purchase this features-filled model at the time I set out to produce my second full-length horror movie THE TEMPTRESS.
As mentioned earlier, THE TEMPTRESS was a follow-up of sorts to 3 TO MURDER. I believe one of my motivations for doing a sequel was the fact that I felt the main characters from the first film deserved to go on a bigger adventure. Also, the filming of 3 TO MURDER had gone very smoothly, and I had really enjoyed working with the people involved on that production. Actor James Carolus had helped Tim Hatch and I out at various times on many of the previous movies, and for this movie he stepped up to be a producer and was on set for a majority of the filming (as well as taking on the supporting role of David - one of the characters back from the first film). James was especially helpful with the makeup effects on THE TEMPTRESS, which was great because it allowed me to focus mainly on camera work and directing. Tim still stayed on board as co-producer and also returned as Ronnie Munson, another supporting character. This worked out well because it kept Tim involved while giving him a bit of a break after being a very hands-on producer on three short films in a row. Both James and Tim were also instrumental in providing key locations for the new film, which will be discussed in further detail below.
I really felt the three women - Karen, Rachael and Tina - from the first film were the heart and soul of the story. They had been pretty well established in terms of character and now it was time for them to face a bigger challenge than a criminal gang. This to me meant a supernatural nemesis, one perhaps stronger than them. This is where the idea came into play for the suburban ladies to face the vampire Angelique, the character who the title THE TEMPTRESS refers to. I chose actress Amy Naple for the role of Angelique because I had liked her work in Upstate New York-based filmmaker Joe Bagnardi’s independent horror movie SHADOW TRACKER: VAMPIRE HUNTER. (Amy had also appeared in an opening-scene “scream queen” part in my first feature TERROR OF THE MASTER, and in a small role in the short film THE GREEN-EYED MONSTER). In SHADOW TRACKER: VAMPIRE HUNTER I thought Amy was well-cast as the very innocent, sweet and initially naive Lisa, a girl who falls under the spell of a suave and sophisticated vampire. I think the casting was appropriate because the role of Lisa took advantage of her natural good looks and soft-spoken personality. I also thought it would be incredibly interesting to cast her totally against type as the harsh, cold, often seductive Angelique. This meant a bit of an overhaul on her appearance for THE TEMPTRESS, and in fact she was given a dark, Goth-like look throughout much of the movie. I also pictured a battle between her and Rachael, the leader of the three women in 3 TO MURDER. This would be especially interesting because Rachael was a character who had some similarities to Angelique. As mentioned earlier, Rachael was sharp, practical and serious, and the prospect of a war of words and physical battle between the two dark-haired beauties painted a striking picture indeed. However, as it turned out, such was not to be the case.
It’s worth noting that like James Carolus, Jason Palmer and Timothy Jay Hatch, actresses Jennifer Birn and Eileen McCashion had both been involved in my previous films. Eileen in fact had appeared in all of my past movies, and Jennifer all except THE GREEN-EYED MONSTER. And when we needed someone to fill the role of Tina in 3 TO MURDER, Eileen suggested her friend Jennifer Lescovich and the rest was history. Upstate New York’s Capital Region is a relatively small place in terms of the acting community, and as such many people know and work with one another. Prior to working with me, James Carolus, Jennifer Birn and Eileen McCashion had all appeared on a Public Access sketch comedy show called Malinda’s Penthouse, which had run for several years on Schenectady, New York-based SACC-TV. The show was produced by actor-director Michael Korotitsch, who went on to produce the independent horror-comedy film TV TERROR (which I appeared in), as well as appearing in the small role of Dwight in THE TEMPTRESS. Sometimes it certainly is a small world indeed.
After the script was ready I was initially able to get the main actors from 3 TO MURDER to commit to appear in the sequel. And as mentioned Amy Naple had accepted the role of Angelique, the head of a group of dark vampires who would challenge the suburban ladies from 3 TO MURDER. James Carolus and I then went about casting the other main parts, which consisted of three of Angelique’s cohorts. The first role was Rose, Angelique’s companion and right-hand man, so to speak. This part went to actress Mary Kay Hilko, who had also starred in (and been a producer on) SHADOW TRACKER: VAMPIRE HUNTER, and required her to be sort of a bodyguard for Angelique. Rose had a very dark, Goth-like look which we were able to accomplish partially because of Mary Kay’s light skin, as well as through a combination of makeup and wardrobe. Rose wore a lot of black colors, chains and a biker cap to accent her tough character, as well as sporting a nose ring. She presented a perfect compliment for Angelique.
The next part we needed to fill was a vampire named Orchid, another member of Angelique’s group. Orchid was written as sexy and provocative, strong and resourceful. She was also one of the most outspoken members of the dark vamps, and presented a possible rival to Angelique for leadership of the group. For this role we chose actress Heather Blossom Brown, who was studying theater in college at the time. Heather was actually one of the last ones to audition, and I knew right away after she started reading that she would be perfect for the role. She was right on the money in her delivery of Orchid’s sexy demeanor and distinct attitude. Heather also had the right look for Orchid as well. Her Greek features, long dark flowing hair and slim build suited the role nicely. It’s also interesting to note that in the initial script Angelique’s whole group was written as dark and Goth-like; however as it turned out Orchid wound up being something of a variation on that mold. Partially because of Orchid’s character traits, and partially because of Heather’s looks, she wound up having more of a rock chick look, as opposed to a Goth appearance. In fact, we actually altered her makeup to a degree after some early filming by adding more white - making her face much paler. However despite this change, and despite her mostly black and red wardrobe (Goth-like colors), she still always retained that rock chick appearance. This was fine though, and I believe it actually provided an interesting dynamic to the dark vamp group as a whole.
The final member of the dark vamp quartet was Gweneth. She was a vampire who was aligned squarely with Orchid in her pursuit for power within the group, and was kind of a counterpoint to Rose in her relation to group leader Angelique. We gave Gweneth perhaps the strangest look of all the vampires, with her wardrobe and makeup being kind of a mishmash of styles. Overall she had a very dark look with black makeup, chains, a skull ring and black mesh on her crop top shirt. (In fact one character humorously describes her as “ghoulish” in the movie). Gweneth is also distinctive from the other vampire women in the movie in that she reveals she is bisexual, and in fact wants Angelique for her lover. This lesbian aspect was added to give another twist to the plot; not only would there be a battle for power within the dark vamps group, but there would also be a sexual aspect as well. However as I mention in the commentary for the film, this vampire lesbian plot element wound up being downplayed somewhat with just a couple of brief conversations referring to it. That being said, a scene in which Orchid and Gweneth confront Angelique about who’s going to lead the group turned out to be one of the better moments in the film when Gweneth makes a heartfelt plea to Angelique after being thrown to the ground by her (along with Orchid).
For the role of Gweneth we chose actress Karen Wallingford, who was another college student interested in theater. When I first set out to cast the role I was a bit less sure of exactly what I was looking for in Gweneth as compared to some of the other characters, who I could picture pretty clearly in my mind. I did know that as far as looks go I definitely wanted all of Angelique’s vampire clan to be dark-haired, for the aforementioned Goth-like look. Karen had long blonde wavy hair, so that meant if we cast her we were going to be shopping for a long black wig. After hearing her audition I began to picture Karen in the role and cast her as a result. Karen gives an interesting, often times playful portrayal of a character that is torn between supporting Orchid in her quest for power within their vampire clan and her feelings for her former lover Angelique. She also has a very fun scene where she dispatches a womanizer (played by Todd Birmingham) intent on taking naked photos of her.
I was very happy with the casting of the new vampires for THE TEMPTRESS. All the actresses brought unique qualities and talents to their roles and complemented the existing cast extremely well. This was especially important to the film because the dark vamps were such an integral element in the movie, and had to really stand out in their parts. Often times in horror and action films it’s the bad guys or bad girls who steal the movie, simply because the heroes are often portrayed as relatively normal or down to earth in comparison. Therefore the villains capture a lot of the cinematic spotlight. An example of this would be in the Tim Burton BATMAN films where Batman/Bruce Wayne looks relatively normal as compared to the more outrageous, over-the-top villains he faces. In 3 TO MURDER the women were portrayed as fairly normal just in the fact that they lived relatively quiet lives in their suburban environment. This is why I wanted Angelique’s vampire group to be somewhat extreme and darkly colorful in their appearance and demeanor, which I believe we achieved. And it was also great to have a large cast of attractive women populating my film, which is something that can only be a plus to any independent vampire movie!
As mentioned above, I initially had commitments from all the returning principal cast members in 3 TO MURDER for the new movie. However after filming around lead actress Eileen McCashion for a few months, I found out she wouldn’t be able to act in THE TEMPTRESS after all. So since we had already begun the production James Carolus and I decided to just keep going and do rewrites as we went along. I felt that writing the character of Rachael out of the movie all together would mean writing a completely new script, because the current script depended too much on her. Also it would probably have meant ignoring 3 TO MURDER entirely and having to totally re-establish her housemates Karen and Tina, which I didn’t want to have to do. So I altered the basic plot only slightly and wrote a scene where Orchid and Gweneth kidnap Rachael in order to use her as a bargaining chip against Angelique, who wants to get Rachael to rejoin their group. This stayed in line with the expanded back-story I had developed for THE TEMPTRESS, where it was revealed that Rachael had once been a member of Angelique’s vampire group, but had broken ties with them and come to live with Tina and Karen in the suburbs. As a result Angelique comes looking for Rachael in the film. In the kidnap scene we wrote it so that Orchid and Gweneth are dragging Rachael face down across the grass after having had an intense fight in order to subdue her. We got another actress with a similar physical build as Rachael (a friend of actress Heather Blossom Brown) and had her wear a black wig, the same one worn previously by Eileen McCashion in 3 TO MURDER. So this scene effectively took Rachael physically out of the story early on in the film, although her disappearance was discussed and became an integral part of the plot. Also, we were able to use a brief clip of Eileen McCashion towards the very end of the film when she is found by her housemates (her rescue being conveyed in a voice-over by Ronnie). This brief clip was taken from footage we filmed of Eileen for an early movie trailer for THE TEMPTRESS (which is called the Conceptual Trailer on the The Temptress Special Edition DVD). That trailer was actually the very first thing I produced using my Sony TRV-900 digital camera.
The story in THE TEMPTRESS begins with two lengthy flashback scenes. At the beginning of the movie we see Eric and his girlfriend Tina taking a long drive out into the woods for a romantic getaway. They load their camping gear into the car and the main credits roll as the scenery passes by out their car windows. Once there an onscreen graphic indicates the scene is taking place “many years ago” and the couple talks about their relationship and also about how a lot of people have disappeared in the very woods they are in. Tina tells the story of a young couple who came out there about ten years ago and of a mysterious woman who appeared and lured the young man deep into the woods before his girlfriend could intervene. The twist on this particular yarn is that the girlfriend was the one who wound up disappearing and never being seen or heard from again. Eric is very unimpressed with the story and they both wind up laughing it off, however the tale sets the stage for the emergence of the beautiful and alluring Angelique (the “mysterious woman”), and cinematic life imitates legend as she appears and lures Eric away from Tina during the middle of the night. This flashback scene as a whole, made up of three main segments, also serves to re-introduce the character of Tina while expanding her history for those who saw 3 TO MURDER. Tina talks about being something of a wild child, in contrast to her more laid-back boyfriend, and also mentions her friend Rachael here. The first flashback scene ends with Tina’s vampire conversion and induction into Angelique’s group of deadly femme fatales. It’s also a notable scene because Angelique’s appearance here is distinctly different from how she appears throughout the rest of the movie. Here she is attired in a beautiful, long-flowing white dress and is wearing her hair down. She appears as what might be described as a ghostly vision of loveliness, truly alluring to a guy like Eric. She is also ghostly in the fact that she somehow always manages to stay well ahead of Eric despite not appearing to travel any faster than him. (This is perhaps something of a reverse of the tactic often used in slasher films where the killer always manages to be right behind the fleeing victim no matter how fast the victim runs). In fact in a few shots of her walking through the woods I used a ghosting visual (camera) effect that simulates a ghostly glow, so she actually has an aura around her as she walks. Her travels through the forest were also complimented by quite a bit of haunting piano music, leading up to her rendezvous with Eric at a secluded hideout deep in the woods. Here Angelique first acts as beautiful seductress but eventually morphs into her vicious vampire self, her true intentions being revealed, and we transition to more dramatic, pulse-pounding music as she wrestles with the shocked guy. We also see Rose for the first time towards the end of this scene, and it’s clear her and Angelique are close companions as they induct Tina into their vampire group. This induction sequence, interspersed by shots of Eric frantically running back to where he and Tina were camped out, has some sexual undertones as well; Rose gently strokes Tina’s hair and prepares to deliver the vampire bite while Angelique holds a glowing lantern and looks on in smiling approval. Rose then slowly embraces a seductively mesmerized Tina and they fall to the grass with Rose sinking her teeth into the blonde’s neck. The scene fades away as if it was all just a dream when Eric finally makes it back to the clearing. Flashback sequence number one ends with Eric loudly screaming out Tina’s name; he realizes she is nowhere to be found and probably gone forever from his life. And so goes the legend…
We filmed the majority of these flashback scenes in a wooded area in Menands, New York. The opening conversation sequence was shot in a clearing near the entrance to the woods, and then we progressively moved into more densely wooded areas for the sequences where Angelique lures Eric away. I filmed most of the shots of Eric running through the woods using handheld camera shots and/or using the camera mounted on a monopod. Because of this relatively simple and mobile one-camera setup, I decided to use day-for-night shooting and film the entire sequence during the afternoon. It was very efficient and made this part of the production much easier, as we were able to move along quickly with Eric and take several shots of him running through different areas of the woods using an assortment of varied camera angles. Later on, in post-production editing, the scenes were darkened further to help sell the illusion that it was more towards the evening, as opposed to being in the middle of the day. And in these scenes Eric also caries a lantern to make it further convincing. We also made this part of the flashback somewhat extended in length in order to present the idea that Angelique has lead Eric a good distance away from where he originally was, and to make it seem like the old shack they wind up at is very secluded. And by the time Eric tangles with Angelique in the shack (her hideout), and then eventually returns to where he started from, it appears that it is well into the next morning. (I think this progression from early evening to the next morning, coupled with the events that take place involving Angelique’s appearances and disappearances give this whole sequence something of a dreamlike quality, which works well for the movie). It’s also notable that the shack scene was shot in a totally different location from the rest of the shots in this sequence. The shack was actually a structure that was in the backyard of my co-producer Tim Hatch’s place in Grafton, NY. It was a location that Tim had used extensively on his aforementioned film THE COMPANIONS. It was also in the background on some scenes in my short films THE GREEN-EYED MONSTER and 3 TO MURDER (see above).
The second flashback sequence takes place an unspecified amount of time after Tina has been converted into a vampire, and basically tells the story of how Karen also became one. The scene starts with a car pulling to an abrupt stop one afternoon on a rural road where we see Karen arguing with her boyfriend Randy before being unceremoniously kicked out of his car. (Randy is played by yours truly and kept off camera, keeping the focus on Karen). Karen then starts walking slowly down the long road as the car hastily speeds away, and soon the scene changes to night as she continues her journey home. Upon rounding the corner of what looks to be a cabin Karen is suddenly attacked by an armed, masked man intent on robbing her. This sudden, unexpected shock is soon followed by another one however, as the mugger himself is attacked by an unseen assailant and quickly bloodied up with severe cuts to the face while Karen looks on in fear and horror. The beleaguered mugger is then set upon by a bloodthirsty Tina, now a full-fledged creature of the night (like she described in the story in flashback sequence #1) ready for a good meal. As she struggles with the mugger and attempts to feast on him he gets off a shot which inadvertently hits Karen. After Tina finishes with the thug and satisfactorily feeds her hunger, she is about to leave the scene but stops upon hearing Karen’s pleading voice not to be left for dead (from the gunshot wound). In a tender and heartfelt moment Tina embraces Karen, gently touching her cheek, before biting her on the neck, thereby simultaneously saving her life… and sealing her fate forever. And thus tells the story of how the two ladies met and came to be together.
As I mention in the commentary track for the movie, the mugger scene is among my favorites. We filmed the majority of it in an overnight shoot outside a lakeside cabin owned by actress Jennifer Birn’s family in Upstate New York. We were set up inside the cabin and were able to work on makeup and costumes there, which was very convenient. We also filmed a few of the interior shots for other scenes in the movie there as well. The filming of the mugger scene went smoothly, and I was very happy with how everything turned out. The costumes and makeup came out especially well, as did the nighttime lighting. The mugger was played by my production partner James Carolus, who also essayed the role of David (see above), and was humorously credited as “B.J. Weasel” for this role. Originally we had offered the part to another actor, but when that person was unable to do it we decided James could once again benefit us with his thespian talents. There was initially some concern about him being recognizable, and therefore creating confusion with his character of David, however we decided the ski mask would hide his face well enough. James was also dressed quite differently and changed his voice for this scene, rattling off his lines in something of a gruff tone, which contrasted with David’s smooth-as-silk delivery. Jennifer Lescovich, who was slightly off-camera, swiped her long fingernails across his ski mask from different angles for the beginning of their confrontation. We then progressively cut bigger and bigger rips in the front of the mask and added more stage blood to it, thereby making it look like Tina was shredding the mask and slicing his face with each swipe. For the majority of the fight scene we used a series of medium and close-up angles of Tina and the mugger wrestling on the ground with streams of light pouring down over them, in order to resemble moonlight coming from above. The other angle used here had them framed on the right in a long shot with Karen in the darkened background on the left side of the frame. Mid-way into the struggle we see the mugger pull the trigger of his gun as he continues to fight off a very bloodthirsty Tina; Karen then grabs her stomach and slumps to the ground after being inadvertently shot. A prop gun was used here and a post-production visual effect was later inserted along with a sound effect to pull off the gunshot illusion. Some pulse-pounding, dramatic music also further complimented this part of the scene as well.
After Tina has dispatched and feasted on the mugger she rises into the frame in an up-angle shot with blood trickling down her face and the wind blowing freely through her hair and relishes in her now-satisfied bloodlust. Dressed in a black leather jacket and black skirt she looks like quite the formidable, sexy vampire vixen. We added a motion effect to these shots which I think greatly enhanced the impact of what James Carolus jokingly calls Tina’s “blood orgasm” on the DVD commentary. Tina then begins to slowly walk away, but as mentioned is called back by a pleading Karen, who fears dying if left there. In this sequence I think Jennifer Birn is especially good as she first cries and then submits to Tina’s vampire bite. In fact, in one review of the movie the writer said that her crying was more believable than some Hollywood actresses he’d seen. From this shot the final flashback footage fades out and we head to the present day.
The next scene fades in on the house of vampire babes Rachael, Tina and Karen, the three ladies first introduced in the short film prequel 3 TO MURDER (see above). An onscreen graphic lets viewers know that it is indeed “Present Day”, and this scene picks up right where the events of the prequel left off. Ronnie is sitting downstairs in the living room talking with Karen about how the house had been empty for a long time before the ladies moved in, while suave David is up in Tina’s bedroom trying to seduce the blonde vixen. Dark-haired Rachael, the leader of the trio, is nowhere to be seen. After David’s tryst in the bedroom with Tina he begins scoping out the place as planned during a trip to the bathroom, but runs
into an unexpected guest in the form of a vampire version of his former colleague JoJo. (It seems Karen didn’t finish the job she started at the end of the first movie). The encounter leads to some cuts and scrapes and David now runs more frantically into the bathroom only to be confronted by Tina, now in all her vampire glory. He barely escapes her clutches after an intense struggle in the bathroom and quickly runs downstairs as she plays in his spilled blood on the tiled floor. David hurriedly runs past Ronnie and Karen and cries out that the ladies are monsters before fleeing the house. Ronnie, not sure what has happened or what to do, subsequently follows him out the door and into the woods. Karen cries out “wait”, and looks on with pleading, innocent eyes as he leaves.
The interiors were filmed in several different locations. The shots of Ronnie and Karen sitting on the couch talking were done inside actress Jennifer Birn’s lakeside cabin (see above), the bedroom scene with David and Tina was shot at James Carolus’ grandmother’s house in Menands, New York, the bathroom and burglary scenes at James’ mother’s house in Menands, and a brief hallway shot was filmed at an apartment in Albany, New York. The main challenge of course was to keep continuity and make it appear that all these rooms were part of the same residence. In looking at the finished film, I believe we satisfactorily achieved this illusion, mainly because most of the action for each individual sequence stays within one room, with only brief shots of David walking (or running) down the hallway used as a linking element.
Of these indoor scenes, the one with David and Tina in the bedroom usually gets the most reaction from audiences. Although not specifically written to be funny, the scene does have an almost campy quality about it, and there are usually some laughs here. I think this is due partially to the fun performances by James Carolus and Jennifer Lescovich, and partially to the music and pacing in the scene. Jennifer Lescovich lets loose Tina’s sexy and flirtatious nature here in all its glory, while James shows just how suave David can be with the ladies. Some of his expressions are classically comical to say the least. Also, the scene features a lot of drinking and dancing along with a slow, looping rock soundtrack, while the whole time we’re not sure if David is going to succeed in his seduction of Tina, or if she’s going to vamp out and drain him of his blood. It turns out Tina wants some bedroom action first and the two wind up on the bed at the end of the scene. It’s also worth mentioning that when we fade back into the bedroom after the aforementioned Rachael kidnapping scene, David has one of the most memorable lines in the movie when he slyly asks Tina “where’s the bathroom babe?” Of course, as mentioned earlier, he decides to make an ill-fated side trip before heading there.
The Rachael kidnapping scene, which takes place after Tina and David start making out on the bed in Tina’s room, is notable because it first introduces us to Orchid and Gweneth, two members of Angelique’s vampire cult. Here we see something that Angelique is not seeing, namely how the two vampire vixens have gotten to Rachael first, and plan on using her as a bargaining chip in order to hopefully seize control of the group. They talk about how Rachael gave them a good fight, and the bloody scratches on their faces attest to this. Gweneth also hints here about her lesbian lover relationship with Angelique when she notes that they don’t need Rachael. She’s ready to rip Rachael apart, while Orchid holds her back because she is valuable to her quest for power. Orchid and Gweneth, as noted earlier, each have their own unique look and style. Orchid wears a short skirt and tight-fitting top, along with black fishnet stockings and high black leather boots, while Gweneth’s look is more a mishmash of styles which includes a black headband and longer black dress. Although both ladies are members of Angelique’s Goth-like group, there is no doubt Orchid has more of a rock chick look despite her pale makeup, while Gweneth has a look that doesn’t quite fit any one style. As mentioned earlier too, we didn’t have actress Eileen McCashion from the first movie to play Rachael again here, so we got Sibel Cakir, a friend of Heather Blossom Brown, to double for her using the original wig Eileen wore in 3 TO MURDER. Sibel had a similar body type to Eileen and since she was being dragged face down it was easy to sell the illusion that it was the same woman. This short scene was filmed behind James Carolus’ mother’s house in Menands.
After we fade back into Tina’s bedroom and after David delivers his classic “where’s the bathroom babe?” line, he heads down the hall and into Karen’s bedroom (leaving Tina sprawled out on the bed looking quite relaxed). Here he begins looting her dresser drawers of jewelry, which mirrors a scene from 3 TO MURDER where he and his criminal gang robbed another house. For this scene I was able to use the same room in James’ mother’s house for Karen’s bedroom, so I viewed the 3 TO MURDER footage and we redecorated those parts of the room we would be filming in to match as closely as possible the look of that first movie. After all, the events here were picking up directly from where we left off in 3 TO MURDER, so the room wouldn’t have changed. This mainly involved redecorating the bedroom with a bunch of stuffed animals sitting around, as well as a black bat stuck to the wall. (This “vampire bat” was a subtle giveaway for astute observers to the ladies' true nature in the first movie). David is interrupted from his looting when partially transformed vampire JoJo sticks his clawed hand out from under a blanket covering his body. For this shot I used a slow motion effect, which simply meant changing the speed of the footage in post production. David then pulls out his knife and scans the dimly-lit room, then discovers the bloody plastic on the floor from where JoJo’s body was originally splayed out by Karen after she savaged him. Besides the fact that working plastic on the floor into the plot of both movies (to save the bedroom floor from a mess) was a very B-Movie thing to do, it also made for a creepy moment here as David senses something is very amiss in this otherwise seemingly normal bedroom. (In the first movie Karen tells Rachael she remembered to “put down plastic” in a dialog scene, before it is revealed to the audience what she is talking about). We then see JoJo as a vampire in the changing state as he attacks David and slices him on the arm before escaping out the bedroom window. This was one of the scenes we shot early on for the film, before we had the female cast of vampire femme fatales in place, and I thought the bloody prosthetic scar on actor Jason Palmer’s face came out especially well. Actor and Co-Producer James Carolus helped out with this makeup effect, and we used a fan for the end shots of the scene where we see ripped bloody drapes blowing in the “wind” where JoJo escaped out the window. Some wind sound effects complimented those shots nicely as well.
David then hastily runs in the bathroom to get gauze to bandage his cut arm, and after shutting the mirrored medicine cabinet he is shocked to see the reflection of Tina standing behind him. She has a very intense and serious look on her face and asks him in something of a flat monotone “Did you have an accident?” Knowing something is very wrong with the whole situation David backs away from her and a moment later Tina vamps out and attacks him. The two struggle in the small bathroom and as they fight we see only David’s reflection in the mirror, because Tina’s image has disappeared now that she is in her vampire form. This scene was a fun one to do because here I used a couple different video effects. For the shots of them struggling I employed an in-camera motion effect (called Flash Effect on the TRV-900), which is a frame effect similar to slow motion, but which gave a look slightly different than I would have gotten if I had simply changed the speed of the clips in post production. I was then able to cut away to shots of the mirror showing James Carolus by himself, where he acted like David was fighting with Tina. I kept the Flash Effect on in these shots as well, and it gave the illusion that he was fighting with someone whose reflection wasn’t appearing in the mirror. Some hard rock music complimented the intense struggle, and the scene concludes with David escaping out of the room and Tina sitting down to play in a pool of his spilled blood. Needless to say we covered the bathroom floor in stage blood for this ending, and for these shots of Tina rubbing blood on her face I did a series of post production fades combined with the aforementioned motion effect in order to create a montage of shots of her relishing the bloodlust. These different sequences of the bathroom scene are broken up by shots of David running down the hallway and then into the living room where Ronnie and Karen are still sitting and talking. Before exiting the house we get another of David’s famous lines where he exclaims “They’re Monsters!” A confused Ronnie then leaves the house and Karen pleadingly cries out for him to wait. It’s also worth noting that both the scenes of David and Tina in the bathroom and the “They’re Monsters!” line as he exits the house were used to good effect in the trailer for the film. The montage shots of Tina smearing blood all over her face were used in the trailer as well to something of a comical effect, because this sequence features a brief cleavage shot in typical B-movie horror style and often would get chuckles from the audience when it was shown at screenings and film festivals. I remember in a lot of the colorful Hammer Studios horror films of years past (such as HORROR OF DRACULA for instance) they would have lovely heroines wearing low-cut dresses and gowns showing a lot of cleavage to add to the sex appeal of the films and spice them up a bit. Classic vampire cleavage shots they would probably be called. So I guess we’re in famous horror movie company.
Following this series of interior scenes (called Dangerous Fun on The Temptress Special Edition DVD corresponding chapter menu), David runs out into the woods and sees his former partner in crime JoJo run by in the distance. JoJo looks confused and bewildered and briefly glances up towards the sky, acutely aware of the daylight now, before disappearing down a path in the forest. David then stumbles and falls over the sliced up, bloody dead body of the ruthless Cruze, another of his former gang members (played by yours truly in 3 TO MURDER and again here in a cameo). Following this we fade-in to a scene where Angelique and Rose are feeding on the body of a local girl in the middle of a small clearing in the woods. Angelique is seen cradling the victim in her arms drinking the blood from her neck, before rolling the girl’s body out of her lap to the ground. We then see Rose descend on the body to do the same off-camera as Angelique watches her fanged companion with a satisfied look on her face.
For these woods scenes we filmed a lot of shots separately. James Carolus and Timothy Hatch were both filmed running through the same spot in the woods, with both of them stopping and looking to see JoJo dash through the forest in the distance. Actor Jason Palmer was filmed in another part of the woods and his shots were cut in with the reactions of the other actors. For JoJo’s first dash we employed the Flash Effect once again, which gave him an almost gliding motion as he went across screen. James Carolus helped out with my makeup for the cameo body shot, which as I recall we actually had to re-shoot because of getting rained out on the first attempt. Timothy Hatch shot the sequence of David discovering the bloody body and then running off, because of course James and I were both in the scene. (It always helps to have more than one person on hand who can do camera work if need be). And for the sequence with vampires Angelique and Rose feeding on the female victim (played by Amy Naple’s friend Fawn Chiofalo) we had a nice opening shot from a distance with some tree branches swaying in the breeze in the foreground. The close-ups of Angelique feeding I thought were visually very striking, mainly because of the expressions and graceful body motion of actress Amy Naple. I know that Amy is a dancer, and looking at the finished scene I think this helped a lot here in giving her character a certain unique quality. (The same was true in both the opening title sequence and some other dancing scenes in the feature SHADOW TRACKER: VAMPIRE HUNTER from filmmaker Joe Bagnardi). In fact we used one of these shots for both the DVD box cover and Main Menu background photo. The shots on Rose also stood out in this scene as well, because I slowed down the footage in post production as she descends down and out of frame onto the body. We then cut to Angelique watching her friend feed, and here she gives a tiny grin which I liked a lot too. The scene ends with these two dark vamps embracing in their signature way of locking hands and arms together, grabbing each other just above the elbows.
And so ends this partial production history on THE TEMPTRESS. If you'd like to know what happens next in the story, then you'll need to watch the movie :)
Here are some more kind words from reviewers about THE TEMPTRESS:
"An exceptional job by Kirkendall bringing us yet another top quality goth-like flick. Surrounded by excellent acting and a good solid story...
...THE TEMPTRESS is one to see." - Unspeakable Magazine Click here to read the full archived review from Unspeakable Magazine (.pdf file)
"The Temptress" is a low budget film that offers up a campy vibe, an interesting story, and the promise that it will never bore you. "
- The Bloody Good Horror Page Click here to read the full archived review from The Bloody Good Horror Page. (.mht file)
" This movie was put together very well. Especially for a low budget independent company. "
- Vamps Carnival of Chaos
Here are some comments from other independent filmmakers:
" Jeff Kirkendall continues his trend of spinning gothic tales of bloodlust, secrets and vampiric confrontation in this, his worthy, second feature film. The dedication behind The Temptress is amazing. We look forward to seeing what Very Scary Productions produces next. "
~ The Masucci Brothers, Fountainhead Pictures
" I liked it! Production wise impressive. You really pushed the envelope with digital video... The film was a nice twist on the vampire genre... I like your tongue in cheek style... It reminds me of the classic "An American Werewolf In London". - Brandon Bethmann - Co-Director of "Raising Hell"
And here are some comments from folks who purchased The Temptress Special Edition DVD:
" I just wanted to drop you a quick note and let you know how much I loved your film The Temptress! The story was new and original, the camera work flowed from one scene to the next and the acting was all very good. Amy Naple was superb as the Vampire leader, a good actress and a very beautiful girl. I hope to see a lot more from you in the near future... ...great work! " - John Alberts, Wooster, Ohio
"I know I have a soft spot for vampire movies, especially low budget vampire movies, but this one is WELL worth seeking out. ...And go watch more of Jeff's movies!" - James Kelly, New Jersey
About 3 To Murder:
"This one is short but it packs a punch... And the twist at the end was great. Stick around after the credits..."
(And from Facebook) "3 To Murder was great!... Just finished The Temptress and that was great too! The vampire girls were all fantastic! "
- James Kelly, New Jersey
" I finished TEMPTRESS and must say I was very impressed. I thought it was well directed and shot and acted. It had a nice pacing and you have a really good style. It really draws you into the story... that is a solid, well made film. " - Mark Polonia, Polonia Bros. Entertainment
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