Sunday, September 27, 2015

Aleta: Vampire Mistress – review

Director: Phil Condit

First released: 2012

Contains spoilers

Originally entitled Empress Vampire, this film had been on my radar for quite some time – having stumbled some years back onto the film’s homepage. It has been a long old wait but it has now been released under the title Aleta: Vampire Mistress, but was the wait worth it?

In some respects no, not at all, and yet the film certainly has redeeming qualities as we will see as the review progresses. Unfortunately it does suffer through a lack of budget (IMDb estimates it at $250000) and that is reflected in the filming quality, which seems over-exposed throughout. This makes it easy to see in dark scenes but overall is unpleasing and very cheap looking.

dead robber
The film starts with a Halloween party and a man (Jake Girowski) arrives with a woman, Aleta (Ange Maya, Blood Scarab). An armed robber (Darren Lebrecht) comes in to the party and shoots to the ceiling, telling everyone to stay still whilst his accomplice (Marcus Johnson) collects their valuables. A cloaked and veiled woman approaches the robber and he shoots her to no avail. She picks him up by the neck and breaks it. The accomplice runs but the woman leaps the swimming pool and brings him down. We see his reaction when he sees her face but we see nothing of her (at this point), though we do see the aftermath. 

a vampire
In another part of town a group of girls are having a slumber party with Trish(Megan Renee Kim). One suggests that she’ll “shock the Hell out of Trish” by suggesting they play strip poker – an excuse by the filmmakers to get the girl who suggests it topless. After the first hand the lights all go out and they are attacked by vampires. When the cops subsequently arrive they remark how the killing of the three (Trish is missing) is like the one at the Halloween party. Elsewhere Aleta and her date are driving when she goes down on him and her groinal feed makes him crash his car.

caught on camera
The Secretary of Defence (Tom Cochran) is contacted and shown a video from the party. Realising he has a vampire on his hands he has FBI Agent Dan Higgins (Beau Nelson) attached to the case with orders to find the vampire and contact her – the thought is that they can harness her as a special operative. On his investigation Higgins discovers that a Russian, Ivor Helsing (Garrett Brawith, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), is also searching for Aleta. Around the same time Ivor – who comes from a line of vampire hunters – meets Ariana (Laura Cotenescu), who is a mystic tasked with hunting down the vampire. She knows the history of Aleta. Despite the differing agendas the three end up working together.

Ange Maya as Aleta
Aleta was originally the Empress Yang, mother of the next Emperor. Somehow she became a vampire – Ariana does not know how – but for 1000 years was protected by her son’s line. Eventually one of the Emperors arranged a marriage for her, to the King of Tibet, telling her that he expected her to eat the troublesome monarch. However he really expected the King and the Dowager Empress to kill each other. Just in case he summoned mystics from around the world to keep her out of China and hunt her down – that is where Ariana’s heritage comes from.

Aleta staked
As for Ivor, one of his ancestors – Joerg Von Helsing (Zachary Ryan Block) – found Aleta just over the border from Transylvania and tended to her. She fell in love with him and did not kill him and he seemed nonplussed by the fact that she sucked the blood out of a rabbit and was allergic to the sun (it making her develop boils, she says). That was until he is told that a vampire was hounded out of Transylvania and puts two and two together. He and his father (Britt Prentice) confront her and he ends up staking her – to no avail. She takes his eye and places it in the stake hole so he can mystically see her destroy his family over the centuries. We discover she killed Ivor’s wife (Sylvia Panacione) and unborn child.

energy worms
And this is where the film worked. It had a complex story that was interesting, though the way the US Government storyline was handled verged on the ridiculous at times and it was sometimes too complex for its own good leading to story short cuts to resolve things. The lore was also unusual in places – a fairly big spoiler is that two Chinese scientists created a device that could open a portal to another world and, through that, energy worms appeared and accidentally merged with the Empress turning her into a vampire. That leads to her near invulnerability – whereas other vampires can be staked and will die in the sun. She created all the other vampires and feels it if one dies.

musical number
Another aspect of the film that was bizarre (and didn’t work so brilliantly) was the use on two occasions of musical numbers (one of them being a song, with interpretive dance and nudity, the other a seduction scene). The acting was variable throughout – some not bad at all but other performances quite weak. There were some strange comedy moments (beyond the musical numbers). Aleta has a taste for virgins and sends her minions out to get some. Ivor saves one woman, staking the vampire that has mesmerised her (and alerting Aleta to his presence), and tells the girl to save herself by having sex with someone – so she immediately phones her boyfriend and says she is ready.

a vampire is staked
This is tough to call, when it comes to a score. I actually found myself enjoying the film, budgetary weaknesses and all, but it is fundamentally flawed. I’ll suggest 4 out of 10 and remain unsure as to whether I have been a tad too harsh or overly generous.

The imdb page is here.

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