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Media Blasters presents

Central Park Drifter: Graveyard Shift (1987)

Stephen: I know you are dying. I felt it that night.
Michelle: How?
Stephen: That is the time I come to my lovers, when they are in the cycle of death.- Silvio Oliviero, Helen Papas

Stars: Silvio Oliviero, Helen Papas
Other Stars: Cliff Stoker, Sugar Bouche, John Haslett Cuff, Don James
Director: Jerry Ciccoritti

MPAA Rating: R for (horror violence, sexuality and nudity)
Run Time: 01h:29m:22s
Release Date: 2001-10-30
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer


DVD Review

When it was originally released in 1987, this slightly unusual vampire film, directed by Jerry Ciccoritti, was known simply as Graveyard Shift. A couple of years later, a film of the same name, based on a story by Stephen King was released, to a bit more acclaim, and I imagine that is why Ciccoritti's film has been clunkily retitled Central Park Drifter: Graveyard Shift for release on DVD. Renaming this film is the equivalent of putting perfume on a pig.

Essentially a film that dips the vampire mythos into the dull realm of pseudo-political correctness, here we're treated to a bloodsucker that apparently only kills women who are about to die from some other cause. Stephen Tsepes (Silvio Oliviero) is a driver for the ominously named Black Cat Taxi company, and he is a quiet, square-jawed chap who prowls the night looking for the next tragic victim he can claim. We learn of his intentions early on, as he "turns" a woman passenger who weakly attempts suicide. It's not long before Stephen encounters Michelle (Helen Papas), a frustrated producer of either rock videos or really bad horror movies (it's never made too clear). Michelle is in a thankless marriage to a sleazy womanizer (Cliff Stoker), and she is conveniently diagnosed with a terminal illness, which pretty much seals her inevitable dalliance with Stephen.

Much of Central Park Drifter: Graveyard Shift deals with the growing attraction between Michelle and Steven, much to the dismay of her husband. Stephen even does battle with a saucy female vamp who kills for the wrong reasons, though her entire place in the story isn't completely fleshed out. The fact that she poses as a stripper seems to indicate that the only reason she's in the film is to dance nude.

There is much soft focus candle-lit R-rated sex to be had here, but even the gratuitous skin can't rescue this one from the abyss of just plain bad horror. When the film finally reaches it's badly acted climax, the army of supposedly creepy female vampires resemble extras from Pat Benatar's Love Is A Battlefield video from the early 1980s. The hairspray budget on this one must have been through the roof.

Central Park Drifter: Graveyard Shift is dull tale that doesn't ever fully develop it's vampire lead into a sensitive and gentle soulless soul. The character of Stephen Tsepes is almost written as a Dr. Kervorkian mercy killer, rather than what typically passes for movie vampires. I'm all for shaking up the status quo when it comes to reinventing a character, and Jerry Ciccoritti did manage to come up with a twist on the vampire legend. I don't condemn the concept, just the execution.

Rating for Style: D-
Rating for Substance: D


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: The 1.33:1 full-frame transfer is laden with a substantial amount of imperfections, most visibly excessive white specks. In addition, there is a fair amount of grain, which when coupled with the murky color field so typical of late 1980s' low-budget filmmaking, makes for a generally poor viewing experience. I realize the original source prints were probably in less than pristine condition, but the final image transfer here is not very good, wherever the problem lies.

Image Transfer Grade: C-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: A no-frills 2-channel stereo mix is the solitary audio option on this disc. Dialogue is mixed well, and for the most part is clear and intelligible, though there are moments when the bad 1980s' synth score tends to be competitive. There isn't much here in the way of an extended dynamic range, but by the same token there is no noticeable hiss. The overall track comes across a little flat.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 10 cues and remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Demonia, Beyond The Darkness, The Nights Of Terror
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: No subtitles, a meager 10 chapter stops, and 3 full-frame trailers (Demonia, Beyond The Darkness and The Nights Of Terror) are all we have here.

Extras Grade: D

Final Comments

As far as vampire films go, Central Park Drifter: Graveyard Shift will not go down in history as one of the best, by any stretch of the imagination. This is a meandering, slow-moving tale that takes the interesting premise of trying to paint the lead vampire as a sympathetic character and only manages to generate extreme boredom.

Rich Rosell 2001-12-14