You know that an actor has a skeleton in their closet if a film isn’t listed on their filmography. Highgate Vampire can not be found on the Internet Movie Database, despite the site having accumulated many pages for films which are either incomplete like The New Spartans or relegated to be known as shorts. Highgate Vampire isn’t listed on Vanessa Kirby’s IMDB filmography but it is listed on this old page about her. She has never been interviewed about this film despite footage being incorporated into the European version of the music video for Five Finger Death Punch’s The Bleeding – a 2007 single. Highgate Vampire was made in 2008. The closest thing to a reference that Vanessa had made to it is an allusion at best. In the May 2012 issue of Nylon’s Young Hollywood, she said: “When I got my first paycheck, I thought – Why are you paying me? You don’t need to pay me for this!”
On the long-gone official site, an introductory statement could be read that stated: “Highgate Vampire is a major entertainment event by Writer Director Asa Bailey, featuring the music of Tool, Alter Bridge, The Cure, LCD Sound System, Pantera and Trivium. The story is influenced by true events that happened in and around London’s Highgate Cemetery some time ago.”
Asa went out of his way to create a character’s blog to be used in the movie. Called Gothic Picnic, the male protagonist’s intro was: “I’m Alex and I live in Butt-F#ck-nowhere California… I used to live in the city where I felt normal, but my Dad decided that it was all too much and now we live in this general town where my Dad owns and runs a general store, which generally makes my once interesting life generally boring. So this is how this little web portal was born from the depths, I decided the best way to meet people would be to at least look, so here is my effort. I’ll post stuff that I think is cool and if you think things are cool too then drop me a line. Post a video. Send me a link. Whatever. It’s not that I mind being on the outside looking in, it’s just, what’s the point of looking at the flock with no one to share it with?”
It was through that blog (which I found via the Wayback Archive) that I learned the main female character’s name: Kathy Harris-Hunter, albeit her forename was sometimes spelt Cathy on some news sites reporting the aforementioned 5FDP video. There was a September 13, 2008 comment by Kathy on Gothic Picnic which was addressed to Alex: “Hey I found you. You’re my friend on youtube right? I like your blog. What is a gothic picnic anyway? I know what you mean about feeling like you’re on the outside looking in. I feel that way all the time. 🙂 Keep in touch. Kathy x”
Another character, Salem Veen, had commented on September 28: “So… We have emotionally vulnerable blogging, insights into the complex world of internet pornography and sneak previews of video games? It might be time to ratchet down the cool there Fonzie. We all live in butt-f#ck-nowhere, my friend. The world’s a lonely place.”
On a heavy metal site called Blabbermouth, there was a March 8 article in 2009 that pitched the story of the film when talking about the association with 5FDP: “Highgate Vampire tells the story of four American teenagers – Cathy, Amy, Salem and Alex – who all meet on the Internet, and decide to get together for a weekend of fun in London’s gothic Camden town. As they take a guided tour around one of London’s Victorian cemeteries, they hide among the ancient graves and are locked in for the night. Darkness falls, and mysterious things start to happen as the spirit of the Highgate Vampire takes over. Being a vampire has its challenges, and through the film we watch the characters battle with good and evil, love and hate, and with what it means to have been granted the ultimate power to kill.”
On another metal site called Brave Words, there was a March 11 article in 2009 that advertised the fact that April would mark the release of 5FDP’s first U.K. single. The band was scheduled to shoot a cameo role for Highgate Vampire when they returned to Europe in the spring for further live performances, but it never came to pass. Back to Vanessa Kirby, she played Amy.
As for the official site for the movie, it revealed the names of the main production staff – executive producer Paul Springer, casting director Tree Petts, director of photography Deane Thrussell, editor Ben Harrex, animator Christian Debney, art director James Morgan and studio head Toray Lewin. Alongside Asa Bailey, Toray co-owned a company called London Production Company. On a page on the Mandy site, both men are described as having extensive credits in producing online content, TV commercials, corporate videos, TV programs and films. Highgate Vampire could have been Toray’s foray into movie mogul status.
Fast-forward to 2012, an article stated that a novel titled The Highgate Vampire would be published in June of that year with a film directed by the author set to coincide with the novel’s release. No film surfaced. On his first Vimeo page, Asa posted a video treatment of the film that you can see here. Despite there being no listing for the movie on IMDB, it is mentioned in the biography of Eva-Jane Willis where she was referred to as being one of the leads. Intriguingly, the project is referred to as being a pilot (which suggests that the people pulling the purse strings were hoping that the popularity of the music video would raise the funding for the film to be finished).
Although her IMDB profile doesn’t reveal it, Miss Willis was born in May 1984, and is Irish (her natural hair colour is ginger). Looking at her Halloween photos, it’s no surprise that she was cast in Highgate Vampire. It’s sad that the project fizzled. I can easily imagine it being a staple on England’s Horror channel (a.k.a. CBS Horror). In September 2010, Willis typed “Congrats!” in response to a post on the Facebook page for the movie: “We have signed a book deal with Hachette, the publishers of Vampire Diaries and Twilight. Asa Bailey is currently penning the first of what will be series of Highgate Vampire fiction novels, the first one is currently titled The Forbidden Text.”
It’s bittersweet that Bailey was a victim of bad timing that he couldn’t be bailed out of. When filming began in 2008, it was just before Twilight got released but somehow there were no takers for the project to be taken to the next level. It didn’t help that 2009 marked the release of an English comedy titled Lesbian Vampire Killers. Asa’s novel was later titled The Vampire of Highgate, and was published in 2012 – the year that marked the final Twilight movie. By that point, people sank their teeth into The Hunger Games. Following that movie, the trend had shifted to dystopian teen Sci-Fi.