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Film / Stake Land

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Stake Land is a 2010 vampire film about a teenager and the man who saved his life accumulating a small group of survivors trying to survive and avoid Feral Vampires and a twisted cult in a post-apocalyptic world, fighting their way to what they hope to be a safe zone in Quebec, or "New Eden".

The brutality and horror of this new world is self-evident from the outset and yet there is still those have hope and rare moments of joy within this harsh setting. The film received generally positive reviews but only a limited release, which makes it something of a hidden gem for fans of the genre.

A sequel, Stakelander, was released in 2016.



  • Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: Averted with the train blocking off the main road to the first lock down, although we never see how it fares while under attack.
  • Actionized Sequel: While the first movie can be seen as a Spiritual Successor to The Road, its sequel has more in common with Mad Max.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Implied. While the group is staying at an abandoned house for the night, Martin pockets a deck of adult playing cards. Later in the movie, he is seen flipping through them after making sure Belle and Mister aren't watching.
  • After the End: The world has been infested with Vampires and society has collapsed. The vamps have ravaged America and it's long since fallen. Later we learn the Middle East is swarming with them to the extent the military action there was called to an end because there was no human enemy left to fight. Once the US government leaders flee, leaving their country high and dry, most soldiers abandon their posts to try and make it to their families. Apocalyptic cults emerge shortly thereafter and rumours of cannibals are mentioned.
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  • A God Am I: When Jebediah becomes a sentient/sapient vampire, he views himself as a vengeful god.
  • Apocalyptic Logistics: Averted as all of the lock down towns are eager to trade for supplies they are clearly running low on, and implicitly have to scale down their technology.
  • Archer Archetype: completely averted with Peggy, who uses a crossbow effectively but is one o the most bright and humble characters in the film, and enjoys company.
  • Back for the Dead: Sister returns, having escaped the Brotherhood. Sadly this only prolongs her life in the long run.
  • Badass Normal: Mister is just a normal human but he has killed a lot of vampires and is an experienced hunter.
  • Badass Longcoat: Mister sports one of these. In the finale Martin sports a black one, symbolising him having become a hunter in his own right.
  • Battle Couple: In the interlude between the original and the sequel, Martin and Peggy. In the sequel proper, Bat and Doc Earl.
  • Big Bad:
    • Jebediah Loven, leader of the Brotherhood. He becomes even more dangerous in the finale after being turned vampire but still retaining his mind, warped though it is.
    • The Mother in The Stakelander. She's an evolved vampire who can breed and give birth, and wants revenge on Mister for killing one of her children.
  • The Berserker: Berserkers are older vampires that are not only stronger but their breastplates have become too dense to stake. A stab to the base of the skull is the only reliable melee method of putting them down without being able to get to the heart.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Sister shoots herself rather than be eaten by vampires.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Both films have many sympathetic characters dying, but the main vampire threat dying with them, while Martin continues his journey. The first film is also optimistic and having all three of the lock-down towns Martin and Mister stop at not fall to the vampire hordes (although one takes losses), or turn out to have been Evil All Along, leaving a sense of hope that the decent part of humanity can survive and endure to come back someday.
  • Blessed with Suck: Vampires are very powerful, and only staking, sunlight, and severing their spine can kill them. However, they are very feral and have no human thoughts anymore, thus making becoming a vampire a Fate Worse than Death and a guarantee to make one crazy and bloodthirsty. Only Jebediah manages to retain his "humanity", but it is unclear if he is a full vampire or still turning, and he was already insane to start with.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: In the second-to-last scene of The Stakelander, Mister is seen fighting off a group of vampires to buy time for Martin to get away. Although we don't see him die, it is implied that he does.
  • But Now I Must Go: When Mister sees Martin taking care of a vampire solo, he leaves for parts unknown.
  • Canada, Eh?: Canada, or New Eden, is a refuge from the vampires due to its cold weather.
  • Creator Cameo: Larry Fessenden appears as the bartender in Lincoln and Biggs of Bat and Doc Earl's group in the sequel. It’s unclear if they’re meant to be the same character or not though, Biggs and Martin show no signs of recognizing each other, but Martin's meeting with the bartender was a brief one and several years old at that point).
  • Cult: The Brotherhood, which views the vampires as the work of God. Martin mentions several mad cults sprung up in the wake of the vampire pandemic.
  • Crapsack World: No place is truly safe in this reality: you can have gated and walled communities, sure, but that doesn't stop the Brotherhood from air-dropping a bunch of vampires into the middle of it. Even the most fortified areas, full of hunters, aren't entirely safe, as the Brotherhood is fully able to exploit what actually makes them fortified, such as vampire-melting UV lights, and destroy them.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Sister escaped from the Brotherhood on her own, when in most movies she would have been killed trying pro only rescued when Martin and Mister reencountered the group.
  • Dark Messiah: The Brotherhood sees the Mother as this in The Stakelander.
  • Death from Above: The Brotherhood flies helicopters over towns, dropping vampires into them in order to destroy them.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Mister breaks down after killing Lady, and declares that he can no longer hunt vampires. He lets Martin go — again — and fends off as many vampires as he can before presumably being killed offscreen.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Willie is killed off-screen while going to use the bathroom, despite being a tough veteran and vampire hunter.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Jebediah as a vampire.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Jebediah Loven puts on a façade of civility, all whilst he's about commit such acts as murder, raping a woman or having a man eaten to death.
    • Juda in the sequel.
  • Foreshadowing: After the brotherhood attack a stronghold by dropping vamps into the settlement of Strivington, one of their soldiers is seen with a bite on his neck and dark veins appearing on his face but still retains his mind. Later Jebediah has the same veins on this own face after being turned. It may be that in the early stages of infection victims retain their ability to think for a time.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Almost universal. In Lincoln we see people tying up vampires to die when the sun rises, Bat proposes killing Juda as soon as he see he's a prisoner, in the first lockdown the sheriff pats Mister and Martin down a bit roughly before finding the fangs and letting them in, Strivington is actively fighting the brotherhood, Peggy is a good archer firing at people she knew when they were human and Mister (and eventually Martin) get plenty of Kick the Son of a Bitch moments.
  • Graffiti of the Resistance: Resistance is a loose word but Mister and his companions pass plenty of stuff in move theater windows or painted in bridges giving directions to New Eden or asking for Mister’s help.
  • Hero of Another Story:
    • The people in all the other lockdowns and compounds, all resisting the vampires an the Brotherhood with a Reasonable Authority Figure who deal with Mister and Martin. They likely had to go through something akin to Jericho only with vampires instead of a nuclear war aftermath.
    • Peggy surviving alone at her restaurant.
    • Willie, who stayed with the military for a long time until it fell apart and has also apparently been hunting vampires alone.
    • Sister, given her Offscreen Heroics in escaping from the Brotherhood.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Sister pulls one, acting as a decoy to let the rest of the group get away.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Juda fakes pulling a Heel–Face Turn from the Brotherhood, and then uses a Wounded Gazelle Gambit to mount an escape, killing an innocent girl who had been taking care of him in the process. Suffice it to say, him dying by Martin's knife is fairly cathartic.
  • Idiot Ball: The characters methodically set up a perimeter of traps to alert them when vamps are coming, only to camp out in the open, in the middle of a junkyard, with dozens of rows of broken down cars the vamps can hide in and around. Although the group is alerted, they still don't know where the vamps are, leading to Sister's death.
    • Willie going out to use the bathroom alone in the middle of the night in dangerous territory.
    • Martin grasps it firmly in The Stakelander. After ten years of survival, you would think he would realize that the little girl he was chasing was obviously leading him into a trap.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Cannibals are thought to occupy New Eden, and we get to see some cannibals in action in the second film.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted in the first ten minutes, in which we see a vampire finishing draining Martin's baby sibling of blood. Also Belle and her child. And in The Stakelander, Martin and Peggy's daughter.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mister, who is tough and stoic but genuinely cares about Martin.
  • Kill the Cutie: Peggy and her daughter, Belle, Sister, Billie and Lady. across the two films.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Mister's demeanour is as rough and hard as you'd expect for a man who's been hunting vampires for solo for a long time but he's still a good guy beneath it all.
  • Knight Templar: Jebediah Loven is the religious leader of cult that believes vampires are God's instruments on earth, sent to cleanse it and even has vamps dropped into nearby settlements to destroy them.
  • Mama Bear:
    • The Mother in The Stakelander is angry because Mister killed one of her children.
    • Sister has shades of this towards Martin, as well, eventually pulling a Heroic Sacrifice to let the group survive rather than slow them down.
  • Morality Pet: Martin to Mister. Not that Mister is a bad guy.
  • New Old West: Heavily invoked by the plot, where the lock down towns battling vicious outsiders, as The Hero and his companions travel through dangerous territory. The fact that Mister wears a hat that would do a cowboy proud helps.
  • Nice Guy: Martin is a normal, nice kid who finds himself caught up in a nightmare.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Mister leaving Jebediah to the vampires instead of just killing him directly leads to the death of two of their friends. Leaving his son to die slowly instead of finishing him quick was what set the Brotherhood after them in the first place.
  • No Name Given: Mister is known only by his moniker and his true name is never revealed.
  • New York State: The second half of the film takes in or near the mountains of upstate New York.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Vampires are tough, but feral, and have lost most of their intelligence.
  • Parental Substitute: Sister takes a motherly attitude towards Martin and Belle. Mister, meanwhile, is a Team Dad.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Mister has zero issues with murdering rapists on the spot and leaving members of the Brotherhood to die slowly rather than simply kill them quick and be done with it. This comes back to bite him in the ass twice.
  • Pet the Dog: Loven of all people gets one when he essentially takes Martin in as a low ranking member of the Brotherhood instead of killing him. Then again, man power is a precious commodity in Stake Land and killing a fit person who could be put to good work is not helpful.
  • Precision F-Strike: Of all people, Sister drops one of these prior to her death when she fights a pack of Berserkers to save Martin and the rest.
    "Come on, you fuckers."
  • Promotion to Parent: Mister is this to Martin, outright calling him his son at the finale of the second film.
  • Properly Paranoid: The pat-down searches at the first lockdown and the gun checks at Strivington in light of the Brotherhood's threat and tactics.
  • Red Shirt: Only Mister and Martin make it to the end of the film. The three people they take on die, although they're more fleshed out than typical Red Shirts.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: The Brotherhood is implied to be white supremacist on top of their cultish behaviors, judging by how Jebediah describes Sister as being of "pure stock" and their references to being "Aryan" on their radio broadcast.
    • The Strivington Volunteer Militia is a subversion, although it's unclear if they are an actual militia or a heroic The Remnant and they don't seem particularly right-wing.
  • Safe Zone Hope Spot: Played with. Throughout the two films we see settlements that looked pretty safe being attacked by vampires courtesy of the Brotherhood sabotaging things (air-dropping the vampires in the first film and in the second by having moles killing hunters and destroying the perimeter defenses as the horde comes in). The one in the first movie, Strivington, becomes a major bloodbath but survives, but the one in the second film isn't so lucky. Also the first film ends with Martin and Belle arriving to New Eden, which is safe enough for them to make a confortable living there and even raise children during the Time Skip between films, but the Brotherhood attacks it in the first few minutes of the second film, killing Belle and their child immediately. A couple of minor towns shown before Strivington in the first movie also avoid falling to the vampires, although there the main characters were only passing through form the start and never thought about staying.
  • Second Love: Assuming that Belle was the first love for Martin, Peggy becomes his second.
  • The Sheriff: One is in charge of the first lockdown Mister and Martin stop at. Officer Harley from Strivington also has the characteristics and role of one.
  • Ship Tease: Between Martin and Belle. It unfortunately leads to Ship Sinking when the latter dies.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Mulberry St, another unconventional Zombie Apocalypse flick from the same writer/director starring Nick Damici as a badass who can hold his own in a fight with the infected.
  • Straight Gay: In the sequel, Bat and Doc Earl are grizzled, manly hunters, and are in a relationship.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Peggy is killed by a Brotherhood member in the opening of The Stakelander, and it's implied that this is the case for Mister at the end.
    • Also the bartender from Lincoln, assuming he is meant to be the same character as Biggs.
  • Token Heroic Orc:
    • Officer Harley who is bitten but when last seen retains both his sentience and his humanity, although he still likely dies a bit later.
    • Lady in the sequel seems to have a little more control over herself than the rest of the vampires, to the point where she knowingly forces Mister to kill her.
  • Token Religious Teammate: Sister, who's a nun, keeps her faith even in the post-apocalyptic world. Her character arc even symbolizes it, as she sacrifices herself twice to save Martin and the group, with the second time causing her death. Christian scripture is incredibly positive towards the notion of sacrifice for the sake of others.
    • Willie is also carrying a rosary in a bonus scene providing his origin, and Martin's narration doesn't sound atheist, the way he refers to the Brotherhood as false prophets.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth:
    • Sister, Willie, and Belle are all good people, and all meet bloody endings in the terrible world that they've been forced into.
      • Also Officer Harley and Peggy, Belle II, and Billie in the sequel.
  • Ungrateful Townsfolk: Subverted, every non-Brotherhood settlement is very accommodating to Mister and anyone traveling with him out of gratitude for his killing vampires, even when he doesn't have an opportunity to personally demonstrate it defending their walls.
  • The Unreveal:
    • It is never clear whether New Eden is in fact a place of safety or full of cannibals like it is rumored to be. Averted as of the sequel, where Martin is living in a rural cottage on the outskirts of New Eden.
    • The vampire plague itself also doesn't get much of an origin story.
  • Unspecified Apocalypse: There is never any information where the vampires came from or any specifics about how far their rampage has reached, other than North America and the Middle East.
  • Zombie Advocate: Sister briefly cries out for the duo to stop beating a vampire she once knew when it was human. Though she quickly realizes Mister and Martin are performing a necessary evil.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Not literally zombies of course, but the vampires here mostly behave like zombies.


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