Saturday, November 22, 2008

Relic Hunter – Possessed – review (TV Episode)

Director: Jean-Pierre Prévost

First Aired: 2000

Contains spoilers

When I looked at the season 3 episode of Relic Hunter, Vampire’s Kiss I hadn’t realised there was also a Season 1 vampire episode. For those not familiar with the show, as I said at the head of the previous review, “Relic Hunter itself was a take-your brain out mix of Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider. Fluff television in the grand scheme of things but entertaining enough to while away 45 minutes, plus it had Tia Carrere as Sydney Fox – the eponymous relic hunter – and that was in no way a bad thing.”

This episode involves female vampires, but unusually we are not looking at you’re a-typical Eastern European styled undead. Rather we are looking at lamiae, and specifically the followers of a cult dedicated to the original Lamia. However things start off in Libya in the 1300s. A man enters a tent, obviously intent on taking a sundial (the sundial of Zeus we discover). A woman, Emmanuel (Zeta Graff) enters and he seems frozen. She bites him.

Modern day and Claudia (Lindy Booth), secretary to Sydney and Syd’s assistant Nigel (Christien Anholt), seems more distracted than usual. When Nigel asks why she states that she dreamt of men, white faced and black clothed, they were vampires. Nigel is dismissive of the dream but she shows him the hickeys on her neck. Further discussion reveals that she was at a rave the last night – the time she attended a rave before that she didn’t remember losing her dress!

Syd arrives and asks Claudia if she had done the research she’s asked for with regards vampires. Now the entire Claudia thing bibbles along in the background with Claudia falling for a Goth guy, it is comedy relief – but only in name as it is clear they didn’t really know what to do with the character this time around. Nevertheless the reason Syd had the research done is because her friend Eric (Jonathon Firth) has contacted her. He is dying, the doctor’s don’t know why, but he is convinced that his partner Suzanne (Jane March) is a Lamia. It is off to Brussels for Syd and Nigel.

They reach the hospital but Suzanne, who sports a harridan attitude, tells them he has vanished. Syd, however, knows which bar he will be in. She finds her friend and he tells her of a women’s art retreat – that seems to be Lamia central – he snuck in there and saw the leader Emmanuel with the sundial of Zeus – the only thing that can break the Lamia’s spell and save his life.

They get Eric back to the hospital, where a nurse, Anna (Coralie Revel) catches Nigel’s eye. Nigel had already seen her in the bar, though he doesn’t realise. She enters Eric’s room and places her hand on his forehead – leaving behind the symbol of the Lamia. Meanwhile Syd and Nigel are going to break into the retreat, though Nigel scoffs at the idea of vampires.

In the grounds of the retreat they witness some form of rite. All the women wear robes (and are referred to in the credits as Vestal – which would be Roman based not Greek) and they have the sundial. They spot the relic hunters and follow them, Nigel is mesmerised by Anna and goes with the cult woman. Syd has to devise a way to get the sundial and rescue Nigel.

The base myth used is that Lamia was seduced by Zeus and then the jealous Hera killed all Lamia’s children and turned her into a snake. The Lamiae in this are seductresses who open the full potential within the man before draining his life. Each Lamia has a coffin, with the husk of their first victim.

Emmanuel decides that Syd will be a perfect Lamia and intends to convert her. This seems to involve drugging, tying to a pentagram and then waving a snake at her – the rest of the ritual is not shown as Syd breaks free. What is truly evil about Emmanuel is that her Lamiae are innocent, at first. The first kill is done without them knowing it is them, so Suzanne is unaware that she is killing Eric and is truly in love with him. After they kill their first they are initiated. When she discovers this Suzanne becomes Syd’s ally.

For the most part this is psychic vampirism. However Emmanuel does have fangs and can bite in the standard vampire way. It sounds as though she is not the original Lamia but an inheritor of the cult – though this isn’t clear. A simple stab can kill and she crumbles to dust. The question becomes, of course, given that Syd is aware that these are women who can mesmerise men and seduce their senses – why would she take Nigel with her to the retreat? The answer, to create the additional peril and for what amounts to an additional comedy aspect (Nigel painting, then punched, knocked out and carried off by Syd).

This isn’t a great episode of Relic Hunter – not that the series was anything more than fluff generally – but it doesn’t really seem to find its way. The lore isn’t explained well, the psychic vampire who suddenly looks like a standard vampire seemed more tying the imagery into expectation. The fact that the episode offers a bevy of seductive vampires and then we only get one seducing Nigel and there isn’t really that much flouncing – not even from Syd – makes this feel a bit flat. 3.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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