Billy The Kid And The Green Baize Vampire

Billy The Kid And The Green Baize Vampire

**

Reviewed by: Sarah Artt

Welcome to Snooker Career Death Match! Seventeen frames, and the loser quits the circuit forever. In one corner, the interloper Billy Kid, a cockney with an affection for the cowboy persona his name implies. His opponent is seven-time world snooker champion, Maxwell Randall aka The Green Baize Vampire, a man who enjoys red eyeshadow and clip-on fangs. Let's watch as their generic subtexts meet somewhere in the basement of a London television studio.

Billy The Kid And The Green Baize Vampire tells the story of a much-hyped newcomer Billy Kid (Phil Daniels) and his challenge to the current reigning snooker champion, Maxwell (Alun Armstrong) and how they battle it out in one match for the right to continue a career in snooker.

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This film is very much of the era that produced unconventional musicals such as Little Shop Of Horrors and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, with a few of the musical stylings of The Who's Tommy thrown in for good measure. Although there's quite a bit of singing in BTKGBW, there's not really any dancing to accompany it, which seems a shame - surely a light soft-shoe number with twirling snooker cues would have livened things up a bit? As it is, the film lacks the visual sparkle we tend to associate with musicals, and the singing from the leads hardly stands up on its own.

The most lively part of the film is undoubtedly the final snooker showdown between Billy and Maxwell, hosted by an MC in a green velvet blazer and a rockabilly quiff of the kind favoured by the more elderly hipster, who sings a rousing number in praise of snooker as the ultimate game, declaring "Heaven's covered in green baize!". The set for this sequence (which takes up the latter part of the film) is reminscent of Frank-N-Furter's laboratory in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, with the chorus located on a balcony overlooking the protagonists, creating an unusual, but nonetheless effective space for the film's climax. The match itself is a nail-biter, with several unexpected twists and an ending that can only really be described as postmodern fantasy.

Despite its entertainingly unusual premise, Billy The Kid And The Green Baize Vampires doesn't really hang together as a story. The familiar tropes of the sports film are there: the committed manager, the talented rookie, the master at the top of his game, the gutsy reporter, to name but a few. But, there's little character development with either the dialogue or the songs and most of the performances feel rather forced.

The film also looks cheaply made, but without the style or sheer camp enthusiasm that carried Rocky Horror or the strong performances of Little Shop. Despite these faults, Billy The Kid And The Green Baize Vampire seems to already have several devoted fans on the forums of Internet Movie Database who are eagerly awaiting its DVD release, so they'll be thrilled.

Reviewed on: 07 Aug 2006
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Cult snooker loopy musical.
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Director: Alan Clarke

Writer: Trevor Preston

Starring: Phil Daniels, Alun Armstrong, Bruce Payne, Louise Gold, Richard

Year: 1985

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK

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