Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Blood Angels

At a certain point in any bad movie you just know what you're watching is absolute garbage.  Maybe it's the first time Tara Reid opens her mouth in Alone In The Dark (if you haven't seen it, replace that with "anything Tara Reid has been in besides The Big Lebowski).  Maybe it's the first time bad CG effects show up.  Perhaps it's when you first realize how much they've diverted from the source material.

This is, I think, the first time I ever got a strong indication a movie was going to suck because of the DVD menu.

It's the lack of special features that's the biggest hint.  Not even a director commentary?
See, in the lower left, about a third of the screen is taken up with a small "screen within the screen" showing segments from the film.  While the scenes were playing, I did some research on this movie and found out two things.  First, the title Blood Angels isn't what it was called here in the United States.  In the United States, it was called Thralls.  Blood Angels is its Canadian name.

Second, the video clips being shown are just the trailer for the movie done on loop.  Plus, the rest of the screen is just the same video with bad CG clouds washing over it and weird light effects from the letters.

When your only option for a DVD menu image is the movie trailer for the movie someone is already going to watch, that's a really bad sign.

But let's get into it.

I'm 99% sure this isn't supposed to be porn shown on Cinemax back in the 90's.  Though, as one friend of mine pointed out, "it looks like it was made to be watched on USA Up All Night, which you might remember as "that program showing bad movies that kept Gilbert Gottfried's career alive."

The movie immediately takes us in to the bizarre with the first sentence: "In the beginning, there was the word.  And the word was "Belial."

It's in a book and everything, it must be legit.
Belial was a demon who would apparently strike down and lash out at anybody who used its name.  We also get a history of the Necronomicon, and how aside from all the really lame stuff (the movie's words, not mine), there was a spell in it so powerful that to even translate it would drive the reader insane.  More exposition, and we get to someone driving up to a large house in what's undoubtedly a gated community.  The movie seems to really want us to hate whoever this person is by having these two things be the first things we know about them:

First, they drive what must be the most environmentally unfriendly car that doesn't require you to have a special permit or career in "limo service" or "excavating/mining" as your job description.


Second, they wear a baggy white suit with brown shoes.

The strange guy walks into what appears to be an empty house (read: there was probably no budget for any decorations), and he heads upstairs to, well, this.

The storage unit for Kristen Stewart's body double?
A group of women dressed in white chained to a white pole.

Clearly this movie has no issues with women.

Aside from the women looking like the director forgot to tell them the camera was rolling and they're working on "who can make the most bored expression," we have the jerk arrive, offer the women a dead rat to eat (though it looks more like an opossum), and then realize that one of the chains holding the women is leading off to a...curtain?  Wall?  I'm not sure, exactly.

He gets an extremely panicked look on his face as he finds that there is still a foot attached to the chain, but it's been severed from the rest of the body.  Someone shoves a pole-like weapon through him from behind, and a woman (who may or may not be missing a foot?) shoves him down before saying "I hate rat."

The women make their escape, but in the midst of it one gets grabbed by a figure in the dark and pulled away.  The rest hop in the jerk's truck and drive off, leaving behind Lorenzo Lamas eating a rather fake-looking heart and muttering about "women."

Here's the next sign this movie was going to suck (aside from the terrible acting and cheap sets).  This is the start of the title sequence.

Reaaalllllly kinda limiting yourself on the variety of projects you can work on there, guys.
"A Vampire Productions Production."  That reeks of redundancy.

This is also a Ron Oliver movie, and IMDB is quick to tell me that he seems to be mostly known for TV movies and some episodes of Are You Afraid Of The Dark? and Goosebumps: The Series.

After a ridiculously long credits sequence, we cut to a bus stop where a young woman with actual pigtail braids is waiting.  According to the rules of terrible drama, she's accosted by a gang of "punks" who pretty much do everything but tell her "hey, we're going to rape you after we mock your fashion sense in sweaters for a bit."

Fortunately, the girl's sister (one of the women from before) shows up and promptly kicks the butts (and in one case kills) the gang for harassing her sister.   The fight scene is brief (and to her credit, the actress playing the older sister whose name I can't be bothered to look up) isn't at all bad in her scenes, it's just quick cuts and jumps and bad camera angles seriously diminish the effectiveness of what she's doing.

Alternate theory: it's those quick jumps and cuts that give me any impression she might actually be good, and she's actually terrible.

Once her sister has escaped, the older sibling tells the gang that now it's "no more Mrs. Nice Guy" (is that something people say?) and we pan the camera from the action as he hear a hiss, a scream, and then a solid mass of blood smacks against a nearby wall.

This is a snippet of the dialogue between the two sisters as they reconnect in the giant car the movie insists on keeping around:

"What about those guys?  Where did you learn to do that?"

"I've...been going through some changes since I left home."

This isn't martial arts puberty, lady.  I know you're trying to be vague, but that kind of response only serves to make the person asking the question ask more questions.

We cut to a club where we get the least "cool" guy in line attempting to act like he's at all impressive.  "Doughboy" (ugh) is there with his friend, a guy who still thinks denim jackets and trucker hats are things to wear in public in cities.  Clearly the country boy is meant to be the "nice guy" of the movie and his friend is comedy relief, but so far they aren't impressing me.

Leslie (fine, I looked up her name) leads Ashley (her little sister) into the club that it appears she's a part-owner of.  It looks a lot like every single rave club you might have seen in an episode of every CW teen drama.  You have scantily clad women, guys who seem to have "staying in shape" as their career aspirations, nobody who isn't attractive, flashing green lights, bubbles, glitter, and inexplicable Hunter S. Thompson references.

"I was somewhere in Iowa having just fired my agent when the drugs began to take hold."
The two women settle into a back room to talk about family drama (apparently Ashley's life at home was so bad she tried to cut her wrists a few times) while Leslie changes into her work clothes, which you can safely assume involves a lot of leather.

Ashley tries one more time to learn how her big sister became a vigilante superhero (without knowing about the blood) but Leslie dodges the issue again.  Instead, we get a flashback to when she first arrived at that strange house with Lorenzo Lamas

Lorenzo Lamas reads every line like he's in on a private joke, which is amusing at first, but after a while just makes him seem like a really smug prick.  He doesn't even try to enjoy any of the bad dialogue, he just says it as if he's repeating to himself "I'm getting paid for this, I'm getting paid for this" over and over again.

We learn that the jerk in the white suit's name is "Renny" (see what they did there?) and that apparently Leslie spent a bit of time as a street walker, being picked up on her "first night out at that corner."  He sinks his teeth into her neck pretty quickly, so it's not an extended flashback, and we cut back to the club scene so that Ashley can have her OWN flashback of her drunk father having a heart attack.

I kid you not, I heard her father's voice (they don't show him) and all I could think of was Lrrr from Futurama.

Ashley pokes around a bit, uncovering a mirror with a curtain draped over it (the mirror is immediately covered again in the next scene) and some bloody clothes in the hamper.  She rejoins the party and happens to wind up at the bar next to Jim and (ugh) Doughboy.  Doughboy tries to pass off a fake ID, but learns that bartenders (and women) really don't appreciate being talked down to.

It's...a pretty painful scene.

The woman operating the DJ station announces that, gee, shock and amazement everybody, this is all happening on the Winter Solstice (you can tell, because everybody outside was dressed lightly for winter in IOWA).  When Jim turns back to talk to Ashley some more, he finds she moved on and has been replaced with "Not Johnny Depp Being Hunter S. Thompson."

"Not Depp" just calmly asks Jim, "Have you seen the bats?" I'm not sure if I should hug you for at least trying to reference something indirectly connected to your movie in a somewhat clever way or if I should take the disc out and snap it in half for that kind of blasphemy.

Either way I need a few minutes to compose myself.

Ashley gets cornered by a guy who I'm willing to bet wasn't originally named "Cisco" at birth, and he starts to grind on her, but Jim attempts to save her, leading to Jim getting dropped by a single punch.  Cisco starts to push the fight forward when the blond woman from earlier steps in, kicks Cisco in the face, and then draws a sword and holds it to his neck shouting "who sent you?"

In a packed club.  Full of witnesses.

These women aren't great at hiding out.

Another woman whose name we haven't learned shows up to take care of Cisco, while Marlene ("Lene") lets Ashley take Jim to get some ice.  Cisco winds up almost naked in a room with an almost naked woman, and Ashley struggles to get to the bar to get some ice for Jim.

You know what?  Absolutely nothing is happening, so I'm just going to fast forward a bit.

Ashley, in the pursuit of a first aid kit, winds up being a total voyeur watching Cisco and the other woman, getting to see her sink her fangs into him.  The other woman starts stalking Ashley, feeling the need to do the whole thing in her underwear and with terrible CG make-up.

Ashley almost gets to her sister, but "no named Asian woman" (IMDB tells me it's Brigitte) intercepts her at the bar.  Fortunately Jim shows up again, and Ashley grabs him pretending she wants to go dance.  Instead, they head to a bathroom where Ashley tries to explain what she just saw.  Jim doesn't really believe it and walks out on Ashley.

Doughboy (UGH) is about to hook up with the woman in the DJ booth when Jim shows up and ruins it.  He tells Jeff (Doughboy's real name) what Ashley just told him, and then heads out.  Jeff (much better) tries to hook up with the DJ again, but she excuses herself, having heard the whole conversation.  With Ashley in the back room, Marlene, Roxie (the DJ, I think, according to IMDB), and Leslie decide to have a "talk" with Ashley.

We get another fl- you know what, I can't do it.  I can't finish this movie, it's just awful on every level.

Okay, here's the plot.  We discover that the reason the women stuck together was to keep Lorenzo Lamas from summoning Belial.  However, it turns out that Lene (Leane according to IMDB but I don't care) was in cahoots with Lamas the whole time and the club is going to be the focal point of the ceremony.  A bunch of characters die, Ashley gets turned into a full vampire, Jim decides to stay with Ashley, and honestly, I just saved you a lot of reading and myself a lot of pain.

Trust me, I fast forwarded to see if anything could grab my attention.  Nothing does, aside from some really bad CG leech monsters shooting out of a girl's chest to feed on a guy's neck.

No really, that's a thing that happens in this movie.

The nail in this bad movie's coffin?  It ends with a rap music video.  Not the characters at a concert, or the characters rapping, but an entirely different group of people doing a full on rap music video.

Tomorrow's post will be better.  Quite frankly, it has to be.  This movie is the equivalent of Little Caesar's Pretzel Pizza.  It's a lie given form, a mockery of things we love given shape to disguise itself for the unsuspecting.  This movie is a twisted life form, one that has observed human behavior but doesn't understand what it has just seen.  It's the only way I can explain how it manages to reference so many other films (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Coyote Ugly, etc) but absolutely fail at honoring the original material in any way.  It wears the skins of other movies like Leatherface wears dead teenagers, mangling and twisting them almost beyond recognition and stripping them of anything that once made them beautiful.

If I had to guess, this was a movie made by people who hate movies.  I can't imagine there was anybody present during filming who had any idea this would be anything more than "a way to make rent this month."  The acting is abysmally bad with a central cast who act like all of their acting lessons were to watch Pamela Anderson's filmography and were then told "if you can be .01% better than that, it'll be enough."

Looking at the cast list online, I know I've seen some of these people in other, better things.  Sonya Salomaa was in two episodes of Stargate: SG-1.   That by itself is better than this movie.  I couldn't for the life of me name what character she played in this film because I think my brain is already actively blocking the fact it exists from my memory.

So, maybe I can do a different movie tomorrow, I have a few here I've been meaning to watch.  What's next in the list?

Starring Gary Busey, Natalie Denise Speri....and Lorenzo Lamas.
Oh, hell, no.  Forget that.  We're doing something else.

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