Tag Archives: vampires

Byzantium

byzantiumI didn’t see this when it came out at the cinema earlier in the year but remember middling reviews for it – it’s currently at 61% on Rotten Tomatoes – with reviewers highlighting the lack of scariness, but also commending it for not being a usual vampire film. However, not knowing much about it I thought I’d give it a go and I was strangely taken in.

Gemma Arterton, who I last saw marching about in leather and firing stakes like bullets in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, is still marching about in leather but this time she’s a 200 year old vampire called Clara on the run with her vampire daughter Eleanor, played by Saoirse Ronan. Tom Hollander, who was in the fantastic Hanna with Ronan also turns up in this as a college teacher, and Johnny Lee Miller staggers in and out as a whoring, thieving officer in the British army in Clara’s youth.

Clara and Eleanor are constantly on the move, and this time get washed up on the shinglebyzantium 3 beach of a dying English coastal town – full of retirement homes, drug addict prostitutes and desolate concrete boulevards. Byzantium is the old hotel they end up in, which Clara quickly turns into a brothel to make money, but Eleanor – forever protected by Clara and eternally 16 years old – lives a half life. Unable to settle down and unable to tell anybody her real story, she struggles to define herself and resorts to writing her story down on paper and throwing it into the wind for somebody, somewhere to read.

These vampires do not sink their fangs into their victims – instead they have this strange extendable thumbnail, which they stab into their victims’ necks to feed. Clara feeds on the powerful men who have done others wrong, whilst Eleanor is a merciful angel of death, bringing peace to those in pain. Everything comes to a head however, when their past catches up with them.

Byzantium 2I say that I was strangely taken in, and I think that’s because there are three separate strands to the film, each with a different feel. We have Eleanor’s aimless drifting and scribbling, telling us her story in voice over, and her budding relationship with a young waiter she meets, then we have the harder world of Clara who uses her body to get by and slaughters those who get in her way, and then we have the flashbacks to 200 years previously where we find out how they both became vampires. For me the flashback bits didn’t really work as well as they did in Interview With The Vampire, which Neil Jordan also directed, and the iffy CGI of spiralling birds and blood red waterfalls on the mysterious island which can only be found with a certain map didn’t quite match up with the more dreamy quality of Eleanor’s limbo.

I liked the contrast of Clara and Eleanor – one hard and vengeful and the other kinder andbyzantium 4 yearning for something more, but a deeper focus on how human they felt they were and what purpose they felt they had would have been more interesting for me. There is blood sucking in it, and lots of other blood, but I like that it went off on its own route a little where the vampirism wasn’t just what they were – they don’t seem particularly hampered by it in any way though you would think that after 200 years they would have learned how to get rid of a body rather than just leaving it on a beach. You only get a flash of hunger for blood occasionally, and for me this was more a symbol of Eleanor longing for intimacy with somebody else and sharing her story with them, whereas Clara uses it as a punishment.

Yes, it wasn’t perfect by a long way, but I thought it was interesting and in some parts touching, but the heavy-handed chasing of the two women by the Brotherhood who consider them to be abominations and Clara’s murdering of men left, right and centre thins out the more sensitive aspects. I was intrigued by the method of how one becomes a vampire – they enter a circular stone shrine on the mysterious island and are seemingly killed by themselves. An allegory of having to master yourself if you are to achieve what you want to achieve perhaps?

BloodRayne III: The Third Reich

I found this random DVD in the back room so thought I’d give it a go. Having never played the games, I don’t have the same blood-boiling reaction as a lot of gamers have had when confronted with Uwe Boll’s efforts, which have included Far Cry and the snappily-titled In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, where Jason Statham gets to pretend to be a farmer, but I see this leaving me free to assess BloodRayne III: The Third Reich’s merits purely as a film rather than as a piece of blatent cashing in on the gamer market. It’s safe to say that he’s got a lot of bad form in this vein of film making, but he’s clearly not bothered because he keeps going, with him recently trying to get his hands on the directorship of a World of Warcraft film. Can you image that? Clearly Blizzard could because they refused to sell him the rights.

Anyway, back to BloodRayne III. The back story is that Rayne is a half vampire, half human, otherwise known as a  dhamphir. She is on a mission to kill her vampire father, and any other undead that cross her path, but in this film she’s apparently taking a stand against Nazis but there are vampires wanding around as well so she mixes and matches as appropriate. The main villain is another half vampire that she accidentally created who turns out to be the kind of guy who screams ‘I am the devil incarnate!’.

Sporting a rather fetching red and black leather outfit and red extensions, Rayne, played in the second and third of this series by Natassia Malthe, cuts a swathe through a bunch of Nazis taking a cargo load of Jewish prisoners to a camp, and joins a resistance group, but not before accidentally bleeding on a German commander, turning him into a half vampire.

A German doctor, Dr Mangler, has been experimenting on vampires to work out how they work and is brought in to solve the mystery of the day walker. Played in a husky and completely un-German fashion by Clint Howard (interestingly, apparently quite the WoW fan, wonder what he thought), there’s actually quite a surprising lack of Germans or East European accents, despite the director himself being German. Surely he’s got some mates he could bring in to run around shouting things in German before being shot, it’s not exactly Shakespeare, despite a character quoting Henry V at one point. As well as a disappointing lack of comedy German accents, there’s also a couple of random modernisms thrown in for good measure such as Rayne describing a guy she’s just skewered as being ‘shish kebabed’.

The vampire German is now hunting Rayne, who apart from only having one set of clothes also inexplicably wanders into a bordello for a massage and a bit of raunchy girl on girl action before ending up in a firefight where the German doctor manages to get some of her blood.

Her aim now is to kill the vampire, taking out a couple of other strangely dressed undead along the way, who for some reason also fight with swords and look like they’ve wandered out of Lost Boys.

A lot of it just doesn’t make sense. There’s a Nazi who feels compassion for a vampire being tortured, yet says nothing about all of the Jewish people being carted off to camps. And how does every person who gets turned into a vampire suddenly know how to kung fu their way around? And for a supposedly underground resistance, they do a lot of bellowing at one another in Nazi-controlled areas.

Rayne and the resistance team need to find out what the Germans are up to, and accidentally walk into a trap. Rayne and Nathaniel, the resistance leader, are then bundled in the back of a truck to be transported to Berlin to meet Hitler and make him immortal. In a scene appropriate to the level of horror they must both be feeling, Nathaniel decides he might as well give her breast a bit of a grope whilst she’s unconscious, and then they suddenly start going at it hammer and tongs in the back of the moving truck, with the guy sexily keeping his woolly hat on.

Then they escape. She is the key to making Hitler immortal, and she’s a half vampire with superior strength and fighting skills, and she’s just popped in the back with her friend, not tied down, with no guards watching them. It’s ridiculous, but convenient because the remaining resistance get them out and she crushes the vampire German. However, ‘there’s still a lot of work to be done’, which consists of turning up at a camp, booting the back door of the truck open and finishing the film with the immortal line ‘Guten Tag, motherfuckers’.

Overall, it’s just lacking in all areas. There’s nothing different about any of it, and a lot makes absolutely no sense. Basically, it’s a trashy film for people who want a bit of bonking, blood and neck sucking.