Monday, April 19, 2010

The Lair – season 3 – review

Director: Fred Olen Ray

First aired: 2009

Contains spoilers

So the supernatural soap opera from gay TV channel “Here!” gets a third season. It has also increased in length. The first season was just six episodes and the second season nine episodes in length. This third series increased to thirteen episodes.

Season 2 felt a little overfull with concepts and confused, throwing ghosts – in the form of Frankie (Brian Nolan), werewolves and triffid like orchids into the mix. This series we get magic rings, the cursed head of a sorcerer and a gorgon (we’ll get to all that later). But somehow it didn’t feel as diluted or scattergun as season 2. Fred Olen Ray actually held the plots quite tautly together comparatively.

Ron Jeremy cameos
For the lair is written and directed by the aforementioned Fred Olen Ray, who we have met several times on the blog. Also we have been meeting up with Ron Jeremy quite a bit of late and he continues his incursion into the horror field (not that the lair is that horrific) by cameoing in this as a delivery man.

potentially a mystic pendant
At the end of the last series Thom (David Moretti) had rescued vampire leader Damian (Peter Stickles) from being walled up and the evil vampire Colin (Dylan Vox) had been dealt with in a rather final manner. Thom’s ex-lover Richie (Bobby Rice) had ended up as the vampires’ slave and, at the beginning of this series, we see him find and pocket Colin’s amulet (that might or might not represent their power, the series is still vague) and collect up his dusty remains.

Colin returns from the dead
Now, this is a soap opera and so when Richie starts claiming that he is getting phone calls from Colin on an old fashioned, not to mention disconnected, telephone you’d have thought they’d have paid attention for the very same sort of thing happened during the soap opera Dark Shadows. As it is Richie helps one of Colin’s henchmen resurrect the bad vampire, in a rather effective throat slitting scene. Colin immediately… goes on to take over a rival business.

Thom and his magic ring
However, Thom is having problems. Loving Damian is literally killing him and he also wonders whether he is being mind controlled into loving the vampire, so the ghost of Frankie comes up with a plan. A recently released book on island legends talks of the disembodied head of a sorcerer that was buried with a magic ring. The ring grants immunity from magic and should Thom wear it and his feelings not change then they are truly his own. The head – incidentally – is able to grant one wish.

shame about the snakes
Unfortunately a mysterious man called Athan (Steven Hirschi) has turned up on the island and is being so stoic behind his shades that the Terminator would seem animated. Why the shades? Athan is a two thousand year old Greek who was cursed by the Gods and so is possessed by the spirit of Nanas – the only male gorgon. A brave and unusual monster choice but, truthfully, plastic snakes killed the effect.

turned to stone; make your own jokes...
Occasionally Nanas takes over Athan and kills – by turning the victim to stone. Athan wants the head for the wish, to rid himself of the curse, and his presence has left Sheriff Trout (Colton Ford) with the problem of stone bodies – that have fingerprints matching those of missing persons and (inside) have perfect replica stone organs. Trout actually reaches a gorgon conclusion rather quickly. The good sheriff has other problems as well. Someone is lurking round his house and he has been remembering a lost love who we never heard of for two prior seasons – one who was murdered and his suspected killer is back on the island.

a female vampire and she's right royally pissed
Finally, if Damian didn’t have enough problems with Colin and his slightly too camp to be menacing persona, more trouble comes looking for him. So far the island seems to have had a total of two women connected with it (and the mainstay character of that gender, Laura, has left this season). Suddenly there is a new woman on the island, and she’s a lesbian vampire (Sybil Danning, Pale Blood) pissed at Damian.

even the ghost gets some this season, off screen
As I said, the actual stories are much tauter this season. The acting isn’t brilliant, dangling around the overtly melodramatic and soap opera but, hey, that is what this is. There is a sex scene per episode that did nothing for me, but it is nice to see a little bit of balance in the genre when it comes to such things, especially from the very director who just loves his nudie bar movies.

trapping a vampire
Lore wise we get a very definitive answer in respect of religious items. We also get a definitive reason why some vampires dust and some don’t – those that don’t have just had sex. Okay, it’s not a brilliant answer but it is an answer nonetheless. Also, that damned painting of Damian actually has a real part to play in this series – but I won’t spoil how. Colin also seems to be able to phase or move faster than sight or vanish – it isn’t really clear which.

We even get left with a real, honest to goodness cliff hanger. Okay, the series is not perfect but it remains a guilty pleasure. By design, one of the campest genre things out there at the moment the show revels in it, knows what it is and has managed to escape taking itself too seriously. 4.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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