Friday, June 15, 2007

Bordello of Blood – review

Directed by: Gilbert Adler

Release Date: 1996

Contains spoilers

This was a tales from the crypt film that seems to have has a fair bit of budget thrown its way leading to sfx that aren’t too bad (though they are still a little on the cheap side) and some well known faces making an appearance.

The film starts off with Vincent Prather (Phil Fondacaro) travelling through the jungle with guides. Of course Fondacaro would go on to star in the awful Decadent Evil. He gets to the place he believes he is searching for, marked by corpses and claimed by the guides as cursed, and has them dig to reveal an underground chamber.

This chamber does not contain the treasure chest the guides expect; instead it contains a sarcophagus. Vincent declares that it contains the greatest treasure in the world and it is opened to reveal a desiccated corpse. This is Lillith (Angie Everhart), Vincent explains, and goes on to explain that he searched for ten years just to find her heart to return to her. He opens a box, which is quartered and each quarter contains a chamber of her heart. When allowed near each other they reform into a full, beating heart, which he places into the chest cavity. After a false start, Lillith awakens.

This leads to an interesting lore aspect for the film. Lillith is the ‘mother of all vampires’ and can only be killed by having her heart removed and quartered, though more traditional methods work on her children.

Lillith feeds on several of the guides when Vincent reveals a key that contains a vial of special blood (though we don’t really know what is so special about it) that keeps Lillith under control. He allows her to have the last guide, whom she spears with a rather long tongue.

We then cut to some cryptkeeper (voiced by John Kassir) malarkey before returning to the film proper.

The film itself is centred upon Katherine Verdoux (Erika Eleniak), a young lady who works for TV Evangelist, the Rev. J.C. Curran (Chris Sarandon; who played a vampire, of course, in Fright Night), and lives with her wild child brother Caleb (Corey Feldman). After an argument with Caleb he goes off with his friends to a local bar.

The disaffected youth are approached by a rather strange man, Jenkins (Kim Kondrashoff), who tells them of a local bordello and that they should ask for the Cunningham Wake. Caleb and a friend go to the bordello, which is a funeral home. They knock at the door and the rather weird McCutcheon (Aubrey Morris) answers. They are going to leave but he mentions the wake and they follow him in. They are led to a coffin, in front of an incinerator and he tells them to get in. Dubious they try to leave but he pulls a gun and soon they are being conveyed towards the fire.

The coffin continues past the flames, along a track, into the bordello itself, where the young men both find themselves girls. We see the fate of the friend first. He is with his girl when Lillith comes in, after some banter she kisses him and we see her extending tongue push down his oesophagus and push his heart out through his chest.

The film then cuts to Caleb, who has not noticed that his girl has puncture wounds on her neck, probably distracted by her tertiary nipple. Again Lillith interrupts the proceedings although we do not see Caleb’s actual fate.

A few days later, concerned that Caleb is missing, Katherine goes to the police but there is little they can do with a spate of missing persons ahead of her brother’s case. She is approached by PI Rafe Guttman (Dennis Miller) and agrees that he can look into her case – though he seems more concerned with her legs. Guttman uncovers more and more disturbing facts, realising eventually that the bordello is run by vampires, but neither the cops nor Katherine seem set to believe him. In the meantime we discover that Vincent works for J.C. – perhaps the Reverend knows more about the bordello than a man of God should.

The lore, other than that surrounding Lillith, is fairly standard as I say. Sunlight kills vampires, as does staking and holy water. One thing that irked was that they obviously fear the cross (except Lillith who stands below a giant cross in the televangelism centre during the films finale) and we know this as one vampire sees a chain Guttman wears and assumes it is a cross, thus turns in repulsion. She then realises it is a Star of David and so isn't bothered. The idea that one faith would work but another wouldn’t seemed a tad tactless.

The film works because it doesn’t take itself seriously at all. At one point Guttman says that he feels he is in a bad Tales from the Crypt episode. There is a marvellous slaughter of vampires with water pistols and super soakers (obviously filled with holy water) that, despite being very similar to From Dusk Till Dawn which was released in the same year, really works well probably due to the fact that the soundtrack cuts into Ballroom Blitz.

Part of the charm is also down to the acting. Miller works really well as the sleazy, ironic PI. Eleniak makes for a passable damsel in distress. Everhart vamps it up for all she is worth but the two performances that really must be mentioned are those of Sarandon and Morris.

Aubrey Morris is so odd and creepy it is disturbing on so many levels and Sarandon is having so much fun it is untrue, making him perfect as the televangelist. Also, watch out for a very brief cameo by Whoopi Goldberg.

This is not the greatest movie ever made, but it is fun – and you cannot ask for more than that. 4.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Chick Young said...

I saw this twice in the theater. Did I love it? No. Did I really like it? Not really. Did I love things ABOUT it? Absolutely. As you say, it works because it is a bit of fantasy that doesn't take itself too seriously. If you're partial to red-heads, and I am, then the mere presence of Angie Everhart makes this a must see. On a scale of 1 to 10 - Angie being a red head is an automatic plus two, give her fangs and that's another plus two. So, there you have it - she's at about a 12 by my calculations (I'm doing a post on this theory soon). Dennis Leary is having a good time and so is Chris Sarandon. Only the Feldman brings this film down a few notches. Ya gotta love the way the dude says. GAAAAWD DAMN. GAAAAWD DAMN is right!

Chick Young said...

Woops, I meant Dennis Miller (Not Leary!)

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Cheers Chick - look forward to your post on your theory...