AKA: Desire the Vampire
Original Air Date: November 15th, 1982
Is it just mere coincidence that David Naughton’s first film after An American Werewolf in London was I, Desire? I mean, we’re talkin’ a sexy male werewolf vs. a beautiful lady vampire eons before Underworld made it all chic! I think the casting agent had both an eye for talent and a great sense of horror humor.
David Naughton is David Balsiger, a law student who works at the local morgue to make ends meet. He’s just moved his sweet-natured girlfriend Cheryl Gillen (Marilyn Jones) into his apartment and life is Jim-dandy. Then a creepy priest (Brad Dourif) shows up to ID a dead body. David lets him into the morgue and goes back to his studies. When he goes back, the priest has disappeared and creepy shenanigans ensue. Enter Detective Jerry Van Ness (Dorian Harewood), who thinks he’s hot on the heels of a female serial killer who also likes lifting blood from the local hospital bank! No one wants to cry vampire, because you know, that would make you nuts, but the more David gets involved, the more he begins to believe the wanted femme fatale is a bloodsucker.
Aside from a few obvious twists, I, Desire is a great little movie. I have loved David Naughton since he was a werewolf in sheep’s clothing and he doesn’t let me down as the hunky vampire hunter. He’s got a very innocent way about his performances which makes him an incredibly likable lead. Oh, and he’s hot. The supporting cast is just as good (Marilyn, where have you gone?) with Dourif stealing the diner scene with so much scenery chewing you’d think he was bulimic. While re-watching I, Desire I wondered if Dourif had taken the part just for that monologue.
There’s also some signature TV movie-ness to be found. The foley went nuts with the vampire’s distinct cougar attack growl, which makes the actual assaults a little less than they should have been. But I love the idea of a female vampire luring her prey under the guise she’s a hooker. There’s something to be said for paying for your sins!
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, director John Llewellyn Moxey is one of the greats! With one or two exceptions, his films remain the strongest of the era. Here, he’s added a very dreamlike quality to David’s dissent into the lurid world of streetwalking vampires (what a small world that must be!), giving the tale a heavy dose of atmosphere. I love the scenes on the seedy Hollywood Boulevard, which sort of captures a PG version of Angel. The writer Robert Foster also wrote a TV movie I’ve been dying to see called Computercide! C’mon, that just has to be good!
Harewood/Moxey Trivia: This dynamic duo worked together on two other TV movies:Foster and Laurie (1975)
Panic in Echo Park (1977)
Read more about I, Desire at Kindertrauma