How about a synopsis before I start telling you my thoughts on life? David Naughton stars here as David, a likable and sarcastically witty morgue attendant marking time at his dead end job while he finishes law school. He’s just moved in with his girlfriend, who is a nurse at the same hospital, and everything’s all terrific wine and picture hanging until a vampire dressed as a hooker murders (or at least exsanguinates) a horny lawyer and the guy gets brought to David’s morgue. Brad Dourif oozes in to view the body while dressed as a priest but then disappears. Also, someone is stealing blood from the blood bank and beating up the nurses. It couldn’t be the sexy goth chick who just started volunteering at the hospital, could it?
Nobody cares that David saw a priest or believes there’s a vampire even though it was totally weird that a priest showed up since the victim was Jewish. There is a police detective who kind of wants to believe him because they’ve bonded over the fact that they’re both in law school. That’s three lawyers in the one film, but I don’t know if it means anything. David’s girlfriend doesn’t believe him either and there’s trouble in their shackup, and now he’s becoming obsessed with finding either the priest or the vampire or both!
There aren’t really any surprises here, except you don’t know what the vampire lore will be or how it will all play out. The lore is most of the fun of watching vampire movies, along with the makeup and, ideally, humor, and this film has some of that for the right reasons. I like David Naughton so much I’d even watch him in a Disney movie, or a soft drink commercial, and he is perfect in I, Desire as the smart relatable guy in a weird situation. Unlike in American Werewolf, he doesn’t have to break your heart here, it’s just an entertaining TV movie. Kind of a mix between Night Shift, American Werewolf, and a big helping of the Night Stalker pilot.
The scene where he finally catches Brad Dourif is gold, but it’s Brad’s scene. David wrestles the priest off the street and into a coffee shop to get some answers, and old Brad just starts stuffing crackers into his mouth and says, and you will be able to hear this in your mind, “These crackers are STALE!” Then he lays out this whole sorry vampire trip for five or ten minutes, starts eating a donut, and says, “This donut is STALE TOO! That’s why I HATE COFFEE SHOPS!”
Of course, David has his own wacky food related dialogue, which must have been a quirk of screenwriter Robert Foster along with lawyers climbing out of cups of coffee everywhere: when David and his girlfriend go grocery shopping together for the first time, we see them walking out of the store and as they walk she says, “how do you know you like em if you’ve never had em?” and he says, “oh, I’ve had em, I just forgot I had em. I LLLOVE porcupine balls!”
What about the vampire and the lore, which is ostensibly the point of all this crazy-making? Well, she’s beautiful, but also savage, tossing people around like they weigh nothing. She also growls like a tiger whenever she’s attacking, and I mean it’s as if they used the sound effect of a real tiger, a multicellular organism with stripes. She can even make the sound when she’s not opening her mouth! And her victims get up and become vampires themselves instead of just dying. You never know, because it’s different from movie to movie, whether the transition is automatic. Which made it suddenly occur to me in the shower just now before writing this, after 40 years of watching vampire movies: if you had a relative who died of being drained of all their blood through two holes in the neck, wouldn’t you have them cremated just in case?
Anyway, I loved this and found it to be a real gem. It’s even directed by the great John Llewellyn Moxey! I guess I should just change the name of my blog to Seven Doors of YouTube, but you can’t beat the platform for finding this overlooked stuff. I, Desire, for me, is what horror movies are all about. It’s fun. Horror movies are supposed to let you explore messed up situations that your brain naturally wants to explore, but in a way that makes you kind of chuckle at yourself for being scared. They are not supposed to remove a part of your soul to make sure you still have one. That’s why I like this kind of PG, classic, TV movie horror. It’s like a ghost train ride, with crackers and wine.
P.S. I had no idea what porcupine balls were and had to look it up. Apparently they are meatballs with rice smushed in to make the meat go further. They are topped with a tomato sauce that definitely isn’t blood.