Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Vampirella – review


Directed by: Jim Wynorski

Release Date: 1996

Contains spoilers

Satellite TV is great, in the plethora of channels available you are able to come across absolute pap that, otherwise, you’d have to buy in order to see just how bad the film is. So thanks to the Sci-Fi channel UK for putting this on and many thanks to Zombiepunk for contacting me and letting me know it was being aired.

First thing to mention is that this is based on the comic book series by Forrest J Ackerman (who cameos in the movie) and I have to admit that whilst I am aware of the series I have not read it. I have ascertained, however, that this movie adaptation bares little resemblance to the comic series.

We begin on the planet Drakulon 30 centuries ago. Vlad and his gangThe High Elder (Angus Scrimm) explains to his step-daughter Ella (Taliso Soto) that the cult of criminal Vlad (Roger Daltrey) has been acting the way that vampires used to behave, drinking from victims rather than drinking from the Blood Rivers or from synthetic sources. Vlad is held for judgement. However, before judgement is passed his gang, Demos (Brian Bloom), Sallah (Corinna Harney) and Traxx (Tom Deters) kill the high council and bust him out. In his dying breath the High Elder tells Ella not to let revenge consume her life.

The bad guys take a ship and escape to a primitive planet, Earth.

In the present Adam Van Helsing (Richard Joseph Paul) is a member of PURGE, an anti-vampire paramilitary organisation and with his partner, Lt. Walsh (Lee de Broux), they fight vampirism. Walsh has noticed a blur leaving a space shuttle that has returned from Mars, a bat shape. An ET vampire, surely not? No matter, they have other fish to fry - Demos is in a vampire turf war in fetching sun suitSouth America.

In South America, Demos has made a move against another vampire – during the day whilst wearing lovely rubber sun clothes! He is captured by PURGE who torture him to discover what identity Vlad has taken.

Taliso Soto as VampirellaMeanwhile Ella has finally come to Earth, having been trapped in a cryogenic freezer due to a crash-landing on Mars. She gains, early on, the nickname Vampirella from a geek she rescues. She is hunting those who killed her step-father, ignoring his plea that she not let revenge consume her. She finds Traxx first, kills him and then, through a poster in his kids’ room, discovers that Vlad is posing as Jamie Blood - a Vegas singer (cue a song from Mr Daltrey).

Under PURGE's lightsOf course she goes for Vlad at the same time as PURGE. PURGE captures both of them. He escapes, Vampirella and PURGE team up and Vlad is going to destroy the world… oh God, I can’t go on!

I suppose I ought to mention a couple of bits. We get a flashback to the Oh John, what did you do!Mars mission and Vampirella being found. Worth noting for the fact that the movie It! The Terror from Beyond Space is mentioned and that one of the astronauts is played by horror director John Landis – oh John, what did you do. Vampirella hypnotised the astronauts to prevent them from remembering her and then escaped from the landing shuttle as a bat. Guess the radio was out (or radio silence was the order of the day when you find an alien), what became of her cryogenic chamber is conveniently ignored.

the suit in all it's 'glory'I should also mention Vampirella’s costume, different from the comic books, cheap looking and amusing due to the bat motif that seems to point to her most intimate areas. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind that the outfit is not the same, nor as revealing, as the one from the comic – I just mind that it looks so awfully cheap.

Finally the lore. Vampirella can turn into a bat and has a synthetic blood supply. Daylight has no effect on her and she cannot turn others into vampires, she is also immune to holy objects. The reason that Vlad and Co. can make other vampires, are killed by the sun and hate both holy objects and garlic is due to the fact that something in Earth’s atmosphere mutated them when they landed (something no longer in the atmosphere 30 centuries on)! Oh, and for a laugh Vlad turned Adam’s father so he had to stake him.

There isn’t a stand-out performance in a good way. Soto looks great, even if a little waif-like compared to the comic character, but has little in the way of emotive performance so we really couldn’t care if she wins or looses. Lt Walsh seemed properly suspicious, unlike Van Helsing who bought her story straight away, but suddenly has a Road to Damascus conversion – though the problem with this is down to the script and not the acting. That said, it was Walsh who noticed the bat flying off the shuttle and yet won’t buy an extra-terrestrial source for vampirism.

Stand-out performance, in a bad way, has to go to Roger Daltrey who overacts with such gusto and yet takes everything so seriously it stops being camp and becomes crap – sorry there is no other way to describe the performance.

showing fangsEffects are below average. The sci-fi effects would have looked poor a decade earlier and the fangs, oh my, where did they get the ill-fitting fangs from? They’re so bad that they can’t even be described as comedy fangs… oh dear, oh dear.

One to avoid, but if you are curious try to catch it on TV. This film must have put the sci-fi vampire genre back at least three decades. 1 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Dante said...

Wow. Sounds terrible. And you're right, that outfit looks ridiculously cheap.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Dante, please believe me it is awful!

JaredMithrandir said...

The actress playing Vampirella looks like she's at least partly Asian. Which I like.

Haveing Vampires with Asian characteristics fit even into the Traditional Vampire lore better then people realize, the Turks and Huns both had a genetic influence in the Slavic regions. Stoker's Dracula bragged of descent form Attila The Hun, the historical Draucla had a little Turk in him, giving his hatred of the Turks some irony.