Monday, June 01, 2020

Verotika – review

Director: Glenn Danzig

Release date: 2019

Contain spoilers

The feature directorial debut of Glenn Danzig, best known for his musical work with the Misfits, Samhein and Danzig, this is an anthology movie based on stories from his Verotik comics. The vampire section will seem oh so very familiar when we get to it. However, let us touch on the other stories.

The anthology has a wraparound, not narrative enough to class it as a portmanteau, where Morella (Kayden Kross) – a demon – introduces the stories. The segment "The Albino Spider of Dajette" sees the tears of model (with eyes in her breasts) Dajette (Ashley Wisdom) create a spider creature (Scotch Hopkins) that kills when she sleeps and segment "Change of Face" sees a mystery girl (Rachel Alig) stealing faces. We are concerned with the segment "Drukija Contessa of Blood".

smeared blood
My immediate thought was the Drukija (Alice Tate under the name Alice Haig) sounds like a poor corruption of Dracula. It quickly becomes clear that we are actually watching a retelling of the story of Countess Erzsébet Báthory. We see her, at the beginning, walk into a dungeon room, bodies strung from the ceiling and rendered in cgi. She wears a spiked crown with a fanged bat adornment. She rubs blood on her face, smearing it into her skin.

riding into the village
We then see her riding, flanked by two mounted guards. She is watched with apprehension by the peasantry. She enters a hovel where a woman stands with her daughter. She tells the Contessa that her daughter is a good girl, pure. She’d better be she responds. The guards take the daughter with them after throwing money at the mother. Back in the castle the girl is handed to the Contessa’s trusted servant Sheska (Natalia Borowsky). Later the Contessa chooses a girl from those she currently has in the castle.

sprayed in blood
We see the chosen girl chained to a hideously ornate bath; her wrists cut. The Contessa gets into the bath, luxuriating in the blood that fills it and licking and suckling at the girl’s wrists – giving us blood drinking as well as bathing. During this sequence another girl is brought in, to the edge of the bath, her throat slit the spray showering the Contessa. I have to say that the blood/injury effects were rather well done for the most part. I was not convinced by the Contessa’s primary outfit – not just the melodramatic crown but also the sheer dress/gloves/stockings combo that looked like they contained a spandex weave in a setting that stretched for medieval.

convinced she's younger
The other thing that needs noting on this was the fact that the story went nowhere. After a scene where the Contessa looks at herself in the mirror and Sheska suggests that she looks younger and more beautiful – which might just be a lie on the servant’s part and a delusion on the Contessa’s part – we essentially we get scene after scene of bloodletting. Cutting a heart out, beheading or slitting the throat of someone suspended, it is just murder and bloodletting. There is no real story and no outcome by the end, no comeuppance or fight back.

can you spot the crew?
The one scene that I would like to touch on as interesting was one where the Contessa rides into the woods. She leaves her horse and starts to move through the trees – I’ll mention the errant (I assume) crew member unfortunately in shot – And then comes to a point where there is a tree grown into almost a seat. Whilst sat there, a wolf approaches and she feeds it bits of virgin meat before asking it to hunt a virgin girl and bring her to her, the throat ripped out so she might bathe. There is no suggestion that this then happens.

with wolf
The reason I mention the scene is down to the connecting of Báthory with mythological monsters (assuming the wolf is more than just a beast). Ask most people and they will connect the historic countess with vampires due to her alleged bathing in blood to maintain her youth and, in a media sense, this connection was drawn prominently together by Countess Dracula (remembering that she was mentioned in Vampire: A Wild Story in Scraps and Colors (1921) by Hanns Heinz Ewers but purely as a serial killer). However she was mentioned in Sabine Baring-Gould’s The Book of Were-Wolves (1865) and so I liked this drawing her together with a wolf.

amongst the bodies
But an interesting moment like that doesn’t help the segment develop story or point. This goes nowhere in a story sense and the heavily accented performance does not strike one as anything more than average. The occasional cgi use feels empty, whilst most of the gore effects are good, we can see the joins when it comes to the opening of a chest and anachronisms like the outfit and modern renditions of torch sconces are apt to take one out of the film. Marking solely for the Drukija section; 3.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On Demand @ Amazon US

On Demand @ Amazon UK

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