Saturday, June 06, 2015

Arise of the Snake Woman – review

Director: David Palmieri

Release date: 2013

Contains spoilers

One of the issues with reviewing films – and I’ve been at this a long time now – is that it is difficult to turn your critical faculties off and just enjoy a film for what it is. However, when a film jolts you out with plot holes, continuity issues and improbabilities aplenty then it is a worry… Perhaps not always though, such can lead to a “so bad its good” discovery. Was it the case with this… read on…

Lamia coin
The film centres itself around the legend of Lamia and we get an intertitle at the head of the film that tells us, “Lamia: (mythology) Folkloric monsters similar to vampires and succubi that feed on the blood of humans, often displaying the appearance of something snake-like.” And that was all we really needed and so the badly voiced voice-over that then expanded on this was mostly unnecessary. As this is tying into the myth, relaying the idea that Lamia feeds on children was probably extraneous but importantly we do discover that her lifeforce is in a statue and male blood can revive her. The Greek-esque music over the credits was fun.

stolen statue
We begin proper in a museum and (I can’t believe I am going to complain about this, as photography being too dark is normally the issue, but) the place was over-lit. One guard hears glass smashing – and so radios his partner to ask if he heard anything. He ends up knocked out. A robber (Brenton Jones) legs it from the scene (and the camera jiggling on his face as he ran was absolutely unnecessary) followed by a cop, Eddie Gun (Randy Oppenheimer, Blood Moon Rising), who shoots him. Let us see what happens here; the impact causes the runner to hop and yet he is still able to outrun and lose the cop. Improbable. Later we see that the entry wound (as the bullet is still inside him there is no exit wound) is on the front of his body… yet he was shot from behind… continuity!

bring on the dancing girls
He rests a moment, getting the statue out to look at and touching it with his bloodied hand – that can’t be good... He then manages to get to a strip/lapdance joint called Eden (the smallest strip club in LA, I’d wager) and enters through the backdoor. This is significant because when he is tracked by his blood to the club the trail leads to the never approached front door! In the club (after being treated to a prolonged series of pole dance moments) we discover that it is the first night for new stripper Crystal (Nina Kate). The owner, Daryl (played with sleazy gusto by Robert Rhine), is informed that one of the customers is bleeding and goes to throw him out as bouncer Joe (Wilfred Gelin) is late for work. The robber (for it is he) tells him everything and asks for help, offering to give Daryl half of the £20k he has been promised for stealing the statue – Daryl agrees and gets stripper and veterinary student Summer (Arsee Hahn) to dig the bullet out and sew him up.

cgi blood splatter
Meanwhile a snake has crawled out of the sack with the statue in (a sack just missing the word swag on it), turned into green smoke and entered star stripper Trinity (Veronica Ricci). She feels unwell but quickly develops strange eyes and the ugliest looking fangs I’ve seen in a while (and, actually, kudos for that). She immediately eats the robber. Her next meal is Joe, just in to work, and I mention it because of two things. If you have had your man bits ripped off (even off screen) you are unlikely to explain that is what has happened to you and, filmmakers, stop it with cgi blood (see screenshot) it looks rubbish and there is then (more often than not) no equivalent physical soaking of the characters in blood.

the brothers
So, let’s cut to the chase. Two brothers, Simon (Andrew J McGuinness) and Jacob (Cuyle Carvin), hired the robber. They are caught, as they search for him, by the cop. Said cop is going to arrest them until they pretend an ectoplasm detector is a bomb, get his gun and then admit they set the robbery up (as you do). His answer to that is to go for a beer at their place, listen to their story (Lamia’s spirit possessed their aunt and killed their parents) and decides to work with them – we really have hit the heights of improbable now! They tells us that the statue can be destroyed once a century (spookily the next night). Lamia can also be physically killed, and returned to the statue, in the one minute after midnight on the night revived if killed before killing a man (presumably in that minute, kills pre-midnight mustn’t count). It’s all quite bobbins really.

snake mode
Meanwhile Lamia (possessing Trinity) is killing men and turning the strippers into her snake vampire slaves (they are meant to represent the witches who served her but have no witchy powers, but do have fangs and a thirst for blood). However the girls have to ask to be turned (and do so because Trinity’s dancing is now phenomenal, apparently. I saw little difference and, to be fair, none of the dancing was that erotic). Of course dancers and vampires, with snake aspects, brings From Dusk till Dawn to mind and the end of film makeup is full on Santanico Pandemonium. I have covered the lore I think and some of the film issues, though I have to admit that the inability of a couple of characters to escape a locked room was probably not helped by them pushing the pull door!

It's rubbish, it really is, and the issues in continuity and improbability just do not help. However, I have seen a damn sight worse and the cast seem to be having fun. I think a 3 out of 10 would be fair and I appreciate the fact that they went for a take on Lamia rather than going down the straight vampire line.

The imdb page is here.

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