Saturday, October 24, 2009

Morgana – review

dvdDirector: Ellen Cabot

First Release: 2001

Contains spoilers

Now, if you compare and contrast the details above with the details of this movie on imdb you’ll notice three main differences. The film's title is listed as Blonde Heaven – Morgana was the DVD and UK TV name. The date is listed as 1995, however whilst the film was completed in 1995 it was not released until 2001. Finally imdb do not list the director as Ellen Cabot but rather David DeCoteau.

Now we have looked at one of David DeCoteau’s vampire movies before in the form of the Sisterhood. Cabot is a pseudonym that DeCoteau used for this film and whilst this is mainly a heterosexual softcore 'erotic' movie, with a little bit of vampire story, DeCoteau couldn’t help but have his trademark black briefed hunks on screen and linger shots over them. Fair play, in that it is clearly what he enjoys seeing, but not so enticing from the point of view of the film's target audience.

the auctionNext thing to note is that whilst the DVD cover might say that 'Julie Strain is Morgana' actually her character is called Illyana and there is not a character in the film called Morgana – nor can she fire lightning from her fingertips as the cover suggests. Rather she is the leader of a coven of vampires that run the LA escort agency called Blonde Heaven. After some overtly melodramatic music over credits interspersed with softcore sex, that seemed to go on for ever, we find ourselves in Blonde Heaven and the vampires are bidding over a model.

making a bidNow this film really screws around with lore. The vampires bid by pushing a rune stone into the centre of a neon glowing table with astrological symbols (how that works exactly is not explored). If two bid the same it seems – though it is not expressly stated – that the more powerful one defeats the other psychically, causing their rival pain. Illyana – as the most powerful – always gets her pick. Now, I mentioned the rune stones. We see them here and later a vampire hunter, Pluto (Jason Clow), suggests that to remove a vampire from his or her rune stone will kill them. But the stones are not seen again in any meaningful way after this scene or referred to after the Pluto scene.

Illyana about to biteHaving won the woman – who is being filmed in a shower and seems to have bite marks already – Illyana calls on her brothers and sisters to aid her. They focus their energies on a picture of the girls boyfriend and create a pendant that, when worn, gives Illyana his form. She goes to the shower as the boyfriend and gets it on with the girl. However… later they seem to be able to change shape at will, so what was with the pendant, and in this scene she vamps out and bites the girl (we assume, as the camera manages to miss the actual bites throughout the film) in her own form but later she is able to maintain male form to have sex with a girl.

Raelyn Saalman as AngieThe main film focuses around a waitress from Oklahoma, Angie (Raelyn Saalman), who has come to LA to be a star and her boyfriend, Kyle (Alton Butler), who has come to LA to bring her home. Angie is approached to join Blonde Heaven and just happens to be the spitting image (and reincarnation?) of Victor – Illyana’s lost love. Other vampires try to undermine Illyana through Angie but that is poorly explored and explained.

Pluto and KyleFor his part Kyle manages to meet Pluto – completely randomly – a projectionist and the only vampire hunter in LA it would appear. Through him we get our lore. Vampires can go out in sunlight and be seen in mirrors because they use factor 2000 sun cream. Sometimes they miss a bit, however, and Pluto uses a mirror on his shoe to look up girls' skirts and check if they are a vampire!

the shadow of the crossWe also discover that humans have evolved so that our blood is not really of any use to vampires in the first instance. The first bite of a victim is to inject an enzyme into the blood, which clears out the impurities that makes us of no use to them. They then bite a second time to drink (presumably some time later) but must do this before the next lunar cycle or we become poisonous. Confused? So was I, but don’t worry it doesn’t actually come into the film. Vampires are scared of the cross and we see Pluto ward one off in his cinema and later via a cross on the sole of his shoe.

Michelle Bauer as Amanda BlackwellIf it all sounds bobbins, well that’s because it is. The lore and story are only there to string softcore sex scenes together – and the scenes didn’t appear realistic themselves and certainly fell way short of erotic. But if all that was bad, the ending was sheer confusion. The finale sees Pluto being chased around the Agency and having been caught by a vampire, because she is his scream queen idle Amanda Blackwell (Michelle Bauer), ushered into bed with her before biting... then we get to Illyana calling on her brothers and sisters for aid... then everyone is suddenly a vampire, it seems, and Blackwell is in charge and Blonde Heaven will now produce movies. It was just confused and stupid, so apologies if my explanation fell short of lucid.

Angie gets a new career...This is a bad movie. The stereotypes come rushing along thick and fast as, it seems, that all vampires wear black suits/dresses and shades, except vampire leaders who might stray into lingerie and thigh boot territory. The poor softcore sex scenes, which fail to even raise a sexploitation frisson despite Decoteau actually putting nudity in this one, are held together by a story that is barely comprehensible, with unexplained plot areas and lore that isn’t used. This all careens through the rapids of bad movie making until it smashes against the rocks of a senseless ending.

...and ends up as vampire chow.The photography is low end and the sound… well the dialogue and lips are rarely synched together and some dialogue actually sounds like it was recorded at the bottom of a well, which is where, perhaps, this film should have stayed. I can’t even offer an extra point for unusual lore because it was unexplained, often moronic and ultimately unused; evidentally the new lore was simply musings within a celluloid mess. 1 out of 10 is given as there are worse films out there but it probably is too generous a score.

The imdb page is here.

On DVD @ Amazon US

On DVD @ Amazon UK

No comments: