Monday, November 09, 2009

Wolvesbayne – review


Director: Griff Furst

Release date: 2009

Contains spoilers

This is a film that was aired, Stateside, on TV (as a sci-fi original) recently and a friend in the US, Suzi, mailed me to tell me about this cheesy B flick. As it was the film is also out on DVD – in Thailand – and so I got opportunity to watch this and the first thing to point out is that it is actually a (loose) sequel.

Rhett Giles as Jacob Van HelsingSome time ago we looked at a flick called Dracula’s Curse. That was written and directed by Leigh Scott and this was written by Scott. Rhett Giles reprises his role as Jacob Van Helsing – though most of the cast in this has changed. Now, the reason I suggest that this is a loose sequel is because whilst it is set in the same universe it has little connection story wise. The sequel nature of this is where the film does allow itself to fall down as I will later explain.

Yancy Butler as LilithThe head of the film explains that the Van Helsings have chronicled the battles against creatures of the night through the centuries and recorded details of how the vampire Lilith (Yancy Butler) once controlled the vampires but the vampires rebelled and tried to destroy her. She was too powerful to be utterly destroyed and so her essence was captured into an amulet that was split and scattered through the world.

Jeremy London as Russel BayneWe then see a security guard being left for the night by a co-worker. The co-worker is killed at his car by a fanged gentleman, for his keys, who then breaks into the building and steals one of the amulets of Lilith from a display. The first guard is taken as well. Cut to daytime and we see a man, Russel Bayne (Jeremy London), enter a shop. He is a developer (and somewhat of an a-hole) and he is trying to persuade Alex Layton (Christy Carlson Romano) to sell her shop. She refuses. As he leaves she senses danger and tells him, he suspects a threat and then that she is a dippy new ager.

A woman drives down a road at night and hits a naked man (clearly to the audience a mid transform werewolf). She skids to a halt but he has gone and then her car won’t start. Bayne drives along and she flags him down – he calls roadside assistance for her and then continues on his way but then, in his rear view mirror, he sees her attacked by something hairy. He goes back, leaves his car to help her and is attacked for his trouble. He awakens in hospital 48 hours later. When the cops speak to him they tell him that tests have been inconclusive around physical evidence and, for no good reason, the word werewolf is mentioned.

Lilith's rebirth beginsThe security guard is tied up and a couple of vampire girls, Zafira (Stephanie Honore) and Xandrea (Sarah Ann Scultz) have their fun. Their master, Von Griem (Mark Dacascos), says the time has come and has the guard thrown to their pet werewolf Epoch (Jordan Turnage). He puts the stolen amulet into the crate containing the desiccated corpse of Lilith – she starts to reform. Meanwhile Van Helsing and his sidekick Sadie (Taylor Roppolo) turn up at Alex’s. They clearly know each other of old, though Alex is not a hunter, they ask her to keep an ear out for anything re the amulet.

the last part of the transformation is shown in shadowRussel is eating Sushi at home when he drops the plate and realises he is bleeding from the mouth. He looks in the mirror and has fangs. He panics but the transformation continues and he becomes a werewolf - the transformation is shot in such a way that the last part is in silhouette, thus avoiding too many effects. In the morning he awakens and his T-shirt is muddy and there is blood on his hands. In his living room is a butchered pig carcass. As the day goes on – and his sharper hearing drives him to distraction – he decides that source of this is Alex, and that she has cursed him. He confronts her but she kicks his ass. As he leaves the shop his words make her realise what has happened.

bad vampires r usHe is at a restaurant but it all goes wrong with his date. He is then approached by Zafira and Xandria, asking him to go 'party' with them, but is forceably rescued by Alex. As the movie progresses we discover that she is also a werewolf but can control her transformations – part transforming at will. She must train Russel, who the vampires want because he has (unbeknown to himself) one of the amulets – his Grandfather was a hunter. The bad vampires are taking over the vampire nation and Lilith wants to dominate the world.

tortured by blood from an immuneLore wise - for the werewolves we discover that lycanthropy is a retrovirus and, even when they learn to control it, the moon still makes them a little loopy. For the vampires all is fairly standard – and related in the first film – with one new piece of lore. Sadie is ‘an immune’ – as such her blood is poison to vampires. Van Helsing uses this to torture Zafira.

deeply drippyThis wasn’t that bad in the grand scheme of things, it was cheesy – but hey most of us like a little cheese. If it failed it was due to its sequel nature more than anything. Many of the characters – Van Helsing for instance – seemed like cardboard cut outs, and this was because there was no character development… in the case of Van Helsing this was because the character had been developed in the earlier flick. I watched this aware of Van Helsing's background, some of the vampires who were mentioned and the world they all inhabited. A viewer who had not seen Dracula’s Curse would feel this was more than a little flat, I am sure.

Mark Dacascos as Von GriemLikewise Von Griem is a two dimensional baddy – and whilst Dacascos hams it up wonderfully we know nothing of his background and motivation. Lilith is an atypical take over the world villain, with little nuance, though Yancy Butler does what she can with the role. The werewolves are better developed – but it still isn’t perfect.

typical blooming vampiresAnother problem is that the story, at its heart, is fairly simple and run of the mill. Compare this to Dracula’s Curse that had many a sub story and was carried by its story-telling and we have a problem. That’s not to say that I hated this but that it fell towards mediocrity because of it – it was fun, but there are more fun things out there, it was cheesy, but the cheese was not enough.

I say that and I probably got more out of this because I had seen the first film. A new viewer is likely to be left fairly cold. Can I suggest that you watch Dracula’s Curse first – perhaps even watch these back to back.

All in all (with knowledge of Dracula’s Curse) 5.5 out of 10 – it would probably have been lower without that background.

The imdb page is here.


Anthony Hogg said...

Wait a second...

"She was too powerful to be utterly destroyed and so her essence was captured into an amulet that was split and scattered through the world."

Someone's been watching Tales from the Crypt Presents Bordello of Blood!

Cheeky devils!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

It was rather similar, I have to admit