Down And Out Vampires

Bruce Von Stiers

Vampire films never seem to go out of style. Whether it be films like action thrillers like Underworld or comedies such as Vamps, vampire films have always found an audience. As some audiences gravitate towards vampire and horror films, so do certain actors. Dawna Lee Heising is one of those actors. She has been in over one hundred-fifty films, many of which were horror films.

The end of 2022 finds Dawna in a whole new vampire horror film. This one is a comedy short film. The title of the film is Down and Out in Vampire Hills. Its title is kind of a riff on Down and Out in Beverly Hills but the plots are a bit different.

Dawna stars as Penelope the Vampire Queen. Somehow, she and her servant Harold have made some bad investments. Therefor, they've been kicked out of their lovely mansion and must live in a tent in a homeless encampment in the woods. Harold is played by Ken May, who has been in horror films such as Let's Stop at the Morgue and 60 Seconds to Live.

But before everything starts moving forward, there is a scene where a guy is walking next to Penelope and Harold's dog and spills a drink on their dog. Penelope takes exception to that and bites the guy's neck, effectively turning him into a vampire.

All of the scenes were filmed in Huntington Beach, California. So, there are places like the beach boardwalk, the pier and the Huntington Beach Library that are featured locations in the film. Especially the library. Penelope and Harold go there a couple of times to get ideas on how to make money.

We find out that not only are Penelope and Harold homeless, but they are also being evicted from the homeless camp. So, Harold has this idea about trying to find jobs so they can rent a condo or something. Each job that the two of them try ends in disaster, with them accidentally killing someone. They try their hands at trash picking, sign spinning and car washing. But not enough money made and the deaths put kind of a damper on things.

At times, this film comes off more of a parody than a straight comedy. But I think that's the point. Penelope and Harold seem so hapless at times, you wonder how they ever survived in the world of high-class vampires. And that is what we are made to believe. That Penelope had been a member of vampire royalty and somehow had fallen on hard times due to those bad investments, thus losing her mansion and living in a homeless camp.

Penelope and Harold finally find a way to get on track. But their plan doesn't come off well. But in the end things turn out okay.

There were a lot of people involved in this project. Some of the actors included Scott and Kelly Bourquin, Vera R. Taylor, Walter Hochbruechner, Dr. Heather Joseph-Witham and Miles Mallory. And the dog, Cooper the Puggle. There was also Bill Houskeeper, Debbie Dutch and LeJon Stewart. Joseph-Witham also wrote the screenplay for the film.

In addition to the actors, the film had several producers. They were Sean Glumace, Dr. Heather Joseph-Witham, Craig Railsback, Dr. Renah Wolzinger and Scott Bourquin. As you can see, a few people had multiple duties in putting this film together. The film was directed by Craig Railsback. I found out while doing some research on the cast and crew that many of them had worked on projects together before. Some of them have worked together on several other projects.

The film has already won a bunch of awards. It won the Best Short Script award at the Tagore International Film Festival. And it won the Best Ensemble award at the Karukrit International Film Festival. For the Andromeda Film Festival, Dawna won best actress, Craig Railsback won best director and Joseph-Witham won best screenplay. The film won Best Production at the Arthouse Festival of Beverly Hills and won Best Horror Short at the Berlin Shorts Award. It won multiple awards at the Black Swan International Film Festival and even won a Best Music Score at another film festival.

Down and Out in Vampire Hills is a fun film. It's a bit cringeworthy at times but it was intended to be more of a parody than a straight-up comedy. The acting was good, the filming was solid and the locations were great.

At this time, there isn't an official release or distribution date for the film. Apparently, there are ongoing negotiations for the film's release.

The film does have a Facebook page where you can find out a bit more about it, the cast and crew involved and some of the awards it's earned. That page is


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© 2023 Bruce E Von Stiers