Sunday, January 16, 2011

Killer Love – review

Director: Lloyd A Simandl

Release date: 2002

Contains spoilers

Lloyd A Simandl obviously has a thing for the Báthory legend as this is the third film by him, which we have looked at, that uses the Countess in one way or another; the other two being Blood Countess and Demon’s Claw.

In this case Báthory is a background to the story and not a character herself. It also nearly became a ‘Vamp or Not?’ rather than a review as there isn’t really a vampire in this, nor someone who uses blood to bathe in ala Báthory. Rather we have bad science and serial killing.

the mask
The credits are interspersed with images that have been videoed, scenes that look like vacations, auctions of girls via the internet (yes, before the Hostel films Simandl had something a little similar, certainly some of the girls our serial killer gets are from the internet) and other sources. Watching is a masked figure and, to be fair, the mask offered a tad of atmosphere though it wasn’t worn by the killer but another of his victims, strapped to a chair and being initiated into the killer’s demented world.

David O'Kelly as Raymond
The killer is a man called Raymond (David O’Kelly) and I will say we have a cornucopia of accents from Eastern European (we are meant to be in Bohemia) to English with our killer and the cop we later meet, Karlion (Noel Le Bon), and American thrown in with the film’s main heroine, Danielle (Kari Wuhrer) – who at least is meant to be American. Raymond looks a little like a demented Phillip Schofield (sorry that’s a UK reference) who has taken to wearing satin shirts and leather trousers.

funny kind of love
During his speech to the unnamed victim he tells her that Elizabeth (Báthory) knew that blood was the source of fulfilment but never knew the love that he feels for all his girls. He suggests that one of the girls reached enlightenment and is still with him – that suggested an accomplice but is actually a red herring; the girl is not mentioned again and, though he has an accomplice, the relationship between him and his accomplice is more familial. He suggests that he will make her, the victim, live forever – the inference being through her blood in his veins.

Teresa and Danielle
Meanwhile Danielle is being driven through the Bohemian countryside by Teresa (Tereza Duchková). Danielle is working on a thesis on Báthory (making her a student, though it is strange that they don’t mention the fact that she is a mature student as Kari Wuhrer is three years older than me and was mid-thirties when this was made… I’m just saying). They are staying in a cabin, suggested by Teresa’s university – and we see hidden cameras within. That night Danielle has a prophetic dream of running through the woods, chased by Raymond as he stands above her with a knife in hand and weaves around like a moron (having planted some drugs where they will be found by the girls).

about Báthory
The next day the two girls go look at a sign about Báthory and, honestly, that’s about all they do. There is a scripted moment where Danielle feels guilty because they are sat around looking at the landscape rather than researching and then she turns round and suggests that she has all the research she needs. A few photos of the signpost, one wonders if the trip from the US was worth her effort! Incidentally the post sets off a psychic reaction that is not followed up on.

Teresa plays Dracula
They decide to stay overnight and then head back to civilisation in the morning.They find the drugs (in a Venetian snuffbox cast in the shape of a mask), get stoned and Teresa does her Dracula impression as they talk smutty. However, the appearance of Raymond soon puts a dampener on their fun and games. Danielle wakes in a cell, Teresa is masked and watching video feeds of girl collection and both are being drugged (as are the other girls he has in cells). However, being a spunky American, she has the wherewithal to knee him between the legs and escape his underground lair. She ends up in hospital where she has to convince the cop and a doctor, Dr Cook (Elin Spidlová), that she is telling the truth and isn’t just a mad junky (due to the track marks he left in her arm).

I mentioned bad science… Raymond bleeds the girls through tubing into jars. These he transfuses into his own veins, so it is a blessed miracle that he isn’t dead yet. Why is he doing this? Because he suffers, we later hear, from porphyria. Yes it is more bunkum based on Dolphin’s discredited theorem of vampirism… Báthory, the film claims, was also a sufferer (not that we know of) and there was a sufferer in England who was known as the Vampire Killer as he took blood (not actually likely, porphyria sufferers do not crave blood). It also claims sunlight aversion (forgetting the media source of vampires and sunlight, Murnau having invented the destructive connection in Nosferatu) and garlic aversion. He keeps cramping due to ulcers.

Renfield Syndrome?
Actually, given the obvious joy in which he revels in rolling in the blood (despite supposedly collecting it to alleviate his condition) and thus murdering the girls to achieve that end, the likelihood is he has an underlying Renfield syndrome – though this isn’t mentioned. He ties the blood into love so one wonders whether there was a sexual element to this also – Simandl ain’t saying.

Danielle imprisoned
Which is the odd thing about this film, Simandl does not throw in the softcore sexploitation for which we know him well and which probably would have raised the score slightly! The acting is good enough for what the film is, but the film isn’t really anything to write home about. Bad science, confusing cuts back and forth through time (in the film timeline and via Danielle’s mysterious psychic flashes) that seemed to be more filler than anything else. Implausible coincidences (in respect of the accomplice) and some of the worst police procedure ever. Not a great movie; 2.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


RoseOfTransylvania said...

This could have been interesting - Bathory legend, Bohemian setting etc - but execution seems to be lousy. Excellent points about bad science and Nosferatu/sun connection. About Hostel... plot summaries and trailers to those films yell total dreck, but Bathory scene sounds interesting in horrific way.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi there... yes, the Dolphin hypothesis annoys me intensley as it was just really bad science.

Re Hostel, I admit that I have only seen part 2 (because of the Bathpry connection) but it actually did have more plot than I expected! (not that it had a huge amount but there was some)