Retro Ramblings

Reports from the dusty corners of filmland

Earning his Knighthood the hard way

I’ve got a backlog of films I need to get onto the blog. It’s actually getting out of hand. As a result of this, and so I’m not playing catch up forever, I’m faced with two choices: wipe the slate clean and forget them all, or make the reviews shorter. I’m not very good at the latter, but am reluctant to do the former. I’ll try. Here goes.

Over the last few weeks I’ve had my own private Bad Film Festival, the results of which have been chronicled on here. It started with When Evil Calls, followed by Food of the Gods, Shark in Venice , Come Play With Me and Parting Shots. By coincidence during this masochistic festival I spotted that a film by none other than The World’s Worst Film Director was coming up on Zone Horror. I felt it would be a fitting end to this run of films, and have now finally, after watching it in small chunks, finally got to the end. The only way I have kept myself sane during this period has been to intersperse my viewing with some actual quality movies and some great TV. Otherwise I may have lost faith altogether and ran away screaming from my TV.

A certain corner of movie fandom has a lot of hate towards Uwe Boll. And the critics love to bash him, as though he has not only made some ropey films but also unleased new forms of disease upon the population. Boll’s answer to this constant tirade was to take on some of his most vociferous opponents in the ring. It’s pretty impressive that they were game enough to accept his challenge. They regretted it though. He hits pretty good for an old man.

This is the first film of his I’ve seen. A couple of years ago someone showed me extracts of House of the Dead, where he actually intercut clips from the video game into the fight scenes, presumably to save on actually doing the special effects for himself. It looked rubbish. This film however looks great. Say what you like about Boll, but at least he knows how to light a scene. The whole film has a “made for TV” look that remined me of Lexx or Xena: Warrior Princess.

I have to say a thing or two about the cast. Billy Zane: your guaranted seal of mediocrity. And what has happened to Michael Madsen? Looking at his bloated, corpulant frame and tired eyes in this film, it’s hard to imagine that sixteen years ago his psychotic turn as Mr Blond in Reservoir Dogs made him one of the coolest guys of the 1990’s. Staggering around in this film, wielding a bad mullett wig and spouting cod-medieval dialogue, you can almost sense his desperation for an early death. However the worst offender of all has to be Sir Ben Kingsley. How does Boll attract such good casts? He’s even got Geraldine Chaplin playing a gypsy for goodness sake! I can only assume they were lured by the thought of easy money and a week in Bulgaria. Kingsley, who once won an Oscar, has proven to me recently that he can ham it up as much as anybody. He’s truly awful in this film. It would make an amusing double bill with Parting Shots. It just goes to show that an Oscar-winning performance is just as much down to the director as it is the actor. Would Gandhi have been as good if Michael Winner would have been at the helm?

So in short, Bloodrayne was nowhere near as bad as I was expecting. It’s occasionally amusing, mostly unintentionally, and it’s got more nudity than I was expecting but it’s decidedly unerotic, clearly aiming for a teenage boy audience who wouldn’t care. It’s worth seeing for the odd casting. There’s a cameo appearance about halfway through from a larger-than-life rock star who’s identity I won’t spoil ’cause it will remove one of the only small pleasures to be found here. I’ve certainly not been put off Uwe Boll and would happily give another of his a go. So, any recommendations?

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