Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Scarlet Moon – review


Director: Warren F Disbrow

Release date: 2006

Contains spoilers

Just because a film is released on the Troma label does not mean to say it will be dreadful. It’s likely but not a guarantee. For instance, take South African movie Pure Blood – it is far from perfect and yet it is interesting and not the bottom of the cinematic pile. This preamble makes little difference to Scarlet Moon, however, which bucks no label trend and is dreadful.

Something, however, strikes me. I have read descriptions of Warren F Disbrow as being an auteur (also, in the introduction Lloyd Kaufman describes him as the “Fellini of Tromaville” – an insult to Fellini, one feels). Let me say this, being an auteur is neither a good nor a bad thing, it just is. If a director is an auteur and their vision is artistically myopic then the resultant film is still going to be a blurred mess.

glowing orbThe film starts with a naked woman playing with glowing orbs in an occult orientated room – we know it is occult orientated because someone has reproduced Eliphas Lévi’s Baphomet on the wall. She gets naked and sweats. Some credits come on that are interspersed with images of the main vampire character, Andreas (Dominic Gregoria), hitting kids with baseball bats and some nude shots of plot unconnected women and then we get the backstory delivered via voiceover.

Denis Marie Kubis as Queen TaraSaid voiceover tells us about Satan sending three glowing orbs to earth, and the fact that they landed in ancient Egypt where Queen Tara (Denis Marie Kubis) got hold of them. Before I go on, can I just mention that, the unlikely named, Tara is possibly the only ancient Egyptian to have nipple bars and a Brazilian. Anyway the orbs conferred immortality and mystical powers, but their primary function was to give sexual stimulation – think the orgazmatron in Woody Allen’s Sleeper. Eventually, however, she killed herself for no adequately explored reason. That was 3000 BC, it is now 2030 (though if that hadn't been mentioned we would have assumed that the film was contemporary).

Guy Camilleri as Edward CrowleyA Satanist group led by Edward Crowley (Guy Camilleri) have recreated Tara’s temple (the room with Lévi’s Baphomet, published 1855, is an exact replica of a temple from 3000 BC…) but are missing one element that will give them the power they seek. A giant red diamond called Scarlet Moon.

Now the Satanists have a couple of vampire henchmen, the aforementioned Andreas and the drug addled Smoke (Colin Reynolds). Andreas is not exactly loyal to the Satanists. He wants Crowley’s woman, Muldavia (Francesca Chirelli), who cannot stand him, and wants the power of Scarlet Moon for himself. He also has a vampire friend called Satanya (Annie Donato), a flower child who was turned and has remained an artist.

what is with the white powder?Now, at first I wondered at the white powder that adorned the faces of Andreas and Smoke – was this really bad makeup effects for the undead. It seems not, it is just an affectation of the characters as the other vampires in film do not have the same makeup. We see no fangs, and whilst we see a turning – which I’ll get to – the point of them being vampires is minimal.

Dominic Gregoria as AndreasAnyway, Andreas goes to the prostitutes Slash (Jennifer Wilder), Slice (Amy Buzin) and Dice (Maggie Willard) to find where the diamond is. The Satanists obviously haven’t looked too hard as they are able to tell him, so long as he turns them – Satanya has it. He slits their throats with a knife. Later he goes to a morgue and revives them as vampires and the mildly interesting point is they can be turned posthumously. He can’t attack Satanya, she’s family, and so starts a convoluted and very boring attempt to gain the diamond that culminates in him going in her house, when she’s out, finding it and stealing it.

Necks on tap aren't that originalMeanwhile the Government, represented by the General (Forrest J Ackerman), pull one Professor Herz (Warren Disbrow Sr) out of retirement to take on the vampires. Through him we discover they fear crosses, allegedly – and this introduces us to one of the more original ideas. A vampire named Keiler (Robert Uhrman) actually met Christ (John Furey) and has a house adorned with crucifixes, only drinks animal blood and goes to church. As I say original but actually fairly throwaway. We also disover that Satanya paints in blood, not the newest idea, and literally taps into a live victim for it - an idea (in respect of the tap) already seen in the portmanteau movie Vault of Horror.

video glitches, oh myThis looks dreadful – for a disc that purports to be an “unrated director’s cut special collectors edition”, and Kaufman claims is digitally re-mastered, we gasp at the poor transfer. The filming quality was low; Disbrow’s auteur vision didn’t include good lighting it seems and, for a film shot when it was, the film seems to have been recorded to tape, rather than digitally. A glitch within film seems to say that to me, at least. I guess I could watch the feature length ‘making of’ to find out for definite, but the film was painful enough.

lots of stock footage is usedThere is more use of stock footage than the average Edward D Wood Jr film – though in main it is in context, which is a bonus. When Satanya gets jetted around the world stock footage is used to indicate where they might be before cutting to pokey 3 foot by three ‘stages’ for the ‘acting’. Acting is in inverted commas because there really isn’t a good performance in the film. Plot holes, when you can spot the plot, and anachronisms litter the film, but ultimately it is so poor, who cares? The director/writer apparently didn’t.

I can’t really think of a good thing to say about this – other than the Christian vampire was interesting – and so I’ll shut up now. Avoid. 0.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

No comments: