For a film of pretty meagre resources, Gun of the Black Sun is, as the above synopsis suggests, pretty densely plotted. Lead actor Gary Douglas is also credited as writer and producer and although he seems to be trying to keep too many plates spinning, it is laudable to see so much thought given to the story, which although a little far-fetched, has at least been thought through and researched. Perhaps the problem though is the clash of tones and styles, with initial scenes revolving around cigarette smuggling, UK biker culture and pubs and clubs giving way to something altogether more fantastical by the end, which feels like part Highlander, part End of Days, part supernatural horror/thriller.
For the first half of the sensibly brief running time (90-odd minutes) everything moves along pretty well. There is some glaringly poor acting (Gary Douglas being the main culprit), a baffling cameo from ex-footballer Ian Wright and some altogether gratuitous nudity, but the plot and script make sense, the presumably meagre budget is carefully and intelligently employed and there is every sign of an at least coherent film being delivered.
Unfortunately as the film enters the home straight, everything begins to fall apart. After some ridiculously hackneyed and stilted plot exposition from a Romanian academic and some absurdly unlikely plot devices and coincidences, O’Rourke tracks down the nefarious Lupescu and all of the hard work done and the goodwill generated goes down the drain. Chase and fight sequences are edited together in a way that leaves it impossible to tell what is happening, where and how, priests are found and incantations uttered without any set up or convincing plot development and a massively ill-judged F/X sequence draws unnecessary attention to the budgetary constraints under which the production has laboured.
Whilst the effort to aim high in terms of story and historical context is to be applauded, the acting ability of your cast and the budget for your SFX must be able to do justice to your ambitions. Yet again we have a great idea for a film clumsily mishandled in the execution as yet another good opportunity to make a guilty but enjoyable pleasure goes wasted. Disappointing and all the more so for the relatively promising start.
You can catch Gun of the Black Sun on DVD here, along with all manner of memorabilia.