Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires (2018) [Screamfest LA 2018]

In 1986, detective Chuck Steel is on the case to find what is making people disappear when an old, sage man comes assist him. As they battle all kinds of beings, Chuck discovers truths about himself and his long gone wife.

In this parody of 80s and 90s action films, writer/director Michael Mort creates a lead that is the perfect amalgamation of every Dolph Lundgren, Steven Seagal, and direct-to-video action leading man, including the macho humor and the inappropriate lines peppered throughout. This being said, the film does straddle the line of inappropriate and jumps over it from time to time, perfectly encapsulating what action films of those decades were like and exaggerating just a little to make its points. The film is a longer take on what Mort started with his short Chuck Steel: Raging Balls of Steel Justice. Here he gets more time and more budget to create a full world for Steel to evolve, or stagnate, in and he gives him plenty to do and a ton of lines that will bring back memories of older action films when PC was not a thing and offensive was something that was just par for the course.

Creating the characters and worlds they evolve in, Michael Mort and crew at Animortal Studios clearly spent hundreds of hours working this, setting up the stop-motion world of Chuck Steel in a way that leads to a fun film where the world looks perfect for the characters and these characters are just rightfully expressive for stop-motion beings thrown into an action scenario. The lead of Chuck Steel is designed in a way that he is reminiscent of a cross between Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steven Seagal, Sylvester Stallone, and a plethora of others. He’s the perfect amalgam of all the 80s action stars and then some, giving him a personality that is larger than life and almost unbelievable. The other characters are also built this way with Van Rental being the most obvious one besides Chuck Steel with Jack Schitt coming in third as a character that will remind viewers of so many others.

The voice cast for these characters is interesting to look at right now as it is mostly director Mort and a slew of others with a few known names such as the fabulous Jennifer Saunders and Tim Burton regular voice actor Paul Whitehouse. The cast for the main character basically being Mort doing multiple voices is more than likely a budget-saving device, but it works here as he is the one person that knows the film and its inner workings best. His work and that of the other voice actors is great and adds to what is on the screen in a way that is organic to the story and works with each character’s personality.

Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires is a fun romp in the 80s/90s action genre that doesn’t take itself too serious, is a great parody, and isn’t afraid to poach some of the worst lines in action cinema to use a intended comedy which the original films didn’t necessarily do. It’s a fun film with a greatly 80s soundtrack mixing songs and score in a perfect manner while also mixing action and horror in just the right doses to make it highly entertaining.