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Celluloid Jukebox: Vampires That Suck Too Much

by Sam Hurwitt

MY FIANCEE WALKED in the room while I was groaning over BloodRayne, a truly horrible 2005 video-game movie about a half-vampire redhead in a black leather bustier who’s fond of stabbing other vampires with her sword.

“Why don’t you just stop watching it?” asked my betrothed. “Is it so bad it’s good?”

“No, it’s just plain bad,” I confessed. “It’s just that there are certain types of movies I can watch no matter how bad they are.”

Cheesy vampire flicks are pretty high on that list, so I’d deliberately rented a triple-bill that got an average rating of 1.3 stars on Netflix’s scale of one to five. I went into it thinking that vampire action movies couldn’t get any worse than the Kate Beckinsale one-two punch Underworld and Van Helsing, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Produced and directed by Uwe Boll, who’s been hailed as the worst director ever after making other video-game adaptations Alone in the Dark and House of the Dead, BloodRayne boasts an impressive cast for a film that otherwise feels like a flimsy excuse to get Terminator 3’s Kristianna Loken naked. Michael Madsen, Michelle Rodriguez, Billy Zane, Meat Loaf, Udo Kier and a bevy of Romanian prostitutes (no lie) traipse around a vaguely defined Ren-Faire past with Lycra and tramp stamps. The big daddy vampire is played by Sir Ben Kingsley as if he had to pass through this movie to pick up his dry cleaning. When the half-assed battle’s done and corpses are scattered everywhere, Rayne reflects on a long montage of all the bloodiest moments from the movie, regardless of relevance to the plot.

A Roger Corman flick mostly shot in Vegas motel rooms, the 1996 straight-to-video Vampirella at least had its so-bad-it’s-good moments. Based on the comic book about space vampires from the planet Drakulon, Vampirella stars Talisa Soto in a ridiculous red pleather bathing suit and Who frontman Roger Daltrey mugging gleefully as space-vampire-turned-rock-star Vlad. All the spaceship footage is recycled from other Corman-produced films, including director Jim Wynorski’s own 1988 Traci Lords vehicle Not of This Earth, and on the commentary track you can hear the clinking of ice in Wynorski’s highball as he sighs that he wishes the bat effects had been better (they look drawn onto the film in crayon).

Wynorski has quite possibly the most mindbogglingly awesome filmography known to man, which includes The Return of Swamp Thing and Transylvania Twist under his own name, but also dozens of movies under pseudonyms Jay Andrews (Komodo vs. Cobra), H.R. Blueberry (Busty Cops), Bob E. Brown (More Mercy), Tom Popatopolous (The Escort III), Noble Henry (Virtual Desire) and Arch Stanton (Scream Queen Hot Tub Party). Surely a close examination of his oeuvre would unlock some fundamental truth about the universe.

A humorless Buffy knockoff written and directed by Leon Hunter, a first-timer who makes Wynorski look like Spielberg, 2005’s Avia Vampire Hunter is so bad that I almost feel bad writing about it. It’s implied that Avia Richards has powers of some kind, but you’d never know it because her battle scenes are so clumsily shot that it’s hard to tell if she’s even hitting someone, let alone how hard. The camera zooms in on Allison Valentino as she’s stabbing vampires, so that Hunter doesn’t have to figure out how to make things look like they’re being stabbed.

Valentino’s acting never goes much beyond a pout, but she twirls a samurai sword well enough to make a decent drum majorette. She fights a guy in a bloody skull mask and a bloated zombie with a pillow under his shirt, and every time she kills someone we see a flash of the next preening level boss she has to defeat, like a video game cut scene.

The DVD makes you watch four Avia trailers before it begins, and has no menu. The dialogue sounds made up on the spot, and Avia’s romance with Detective Guy (Rodney “Kamal” Jackson, who also raps on the soundtrack) is summed up in a nuzzling scene next to a string of party lights. If you borrowed a camcorder and made a vampire movie in the backyard with your friends, it would probably be more polished than this.

All I wanted was chicks kicking vampire ass—and, for the most part, vampire chicks kicking vampire ass—but sadly, all I got was ass.

Sam Hurwitt is the Reverse Angle editor of KS.

Posted in Celluloid Jukebox, Reverse Angle

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