Monday, January 10, 2011

BloodRayne (2005)

For those who somehow aren't familiar with him, Uwe Boll makes bad movies about video games. By 2005, Boll had already made Alone in the Dark and House of the Dead, two horrendously bad films based on incredibly irrelevant video game franchises.

So it should come as no surprise that BloodRayne, a video-game adaptation about a half-vampire in leather who fights Nazis, is significantly worse than it sounds. Boll changed the setting to 17th Century Romania so he could shoot scenes in Dracula's castle, thus annoying both fans of the franchise and fans of Nazis getting messed up by super-powered beings. Then he assembled what must have seemed an A-List cast to Boll: the Terminatrix, Bud from Kill Bill, the angry chick from The Fast and the Furious... how could he go wrong?!

Sadly, nothing remotely this cool happens in the movie.

The film opens when Michael Madsen, Michelle Rodriguez and... someone else (Matthew Davis of the Vampire Diaries) enter a bar looking for information about a "dhampir," some sort of halfway vampire. We see a carnival that displays Rayne (T3's Kristanna Loken) as part of its freak show by pouring water on her to sear her flesh, then feeding her animal blood. Quite a show, eh? In a way, the freak show's suckiness parallels the film's suckiness and the paying customers are disappointed in the same way audiences of BloodRayne are disappointed. That's some quality folded narrative, people!

We also find out that lord of the vampires Kagan (Sir Ben Kingsley in an hilarious wig) is Rayne's father and has been looking for her for some reason. Rayne escapes from the carnival after a patron drunkenly forces himself on her. Madsen and his vampire hunters find the aftermath of the ruined carnival and heroically murder a young woman bitten by Rayne. Elsewhere, Billy Zane, a vampire (I guess) who is also Michelle Rodriguez's father, composes a letter to his daughter asking for help. His appearance in this movie remains shrouded in mystery.

Our heroes: Michael Madsen, Michelle Rodriguez, and professional Tom Brady impersonator Matthew Davis.
Rayne shows up in a city and meets a fortune-teller that gives her a ton of exposition about how she has to get a magic artifact to defeat her father. She heads to a monastery to collect this artifact from a room that features incredibly fake whirling CGI saw blades. Rayne somehow absorbs the artifact, eliminating her previous weakness to water. She gets another expository speech, this time from b-movie veteran Udo Kier. Before he can finish giving a speech about ancient evils, etc., vampires attack the monastery and engage in a painfully amateur fight scene with the monks featuring hilariously over-the-top gore and ridiculously dull weapons. Uwe, remember to have a set of weapons that actually look like swords for the master shot, then let the stunt people use the un-sharpened butter knives!

Maybe your sword wouldn't make such a mess if you'd sharpen it once a century, Rayne!

Rayne gets captured by being punched once by one Kagan's lackeys, played by Boll veteran Will Sanderson, who brings her to the den of a hedonistic vampire played by Meat Loaf. We get loads of female nudity here, as Meat Loaf keeps a collection of naked women around him. Even though we're in the 17-18th Century, these girls have somehow found a means of waxing. It must be one of the secret powers of vampires. Fun fact: it was apparently cheaper to hire actual Romanian prostitutes for this scene than actresses, so don't expect to imdb "Naked Woman #4."

Meat Loaf and a bunch of prostitutes.

Rayne teams up with Madsen and company, training with the human vampire hunters. She shares sob stories with Matthew Davis and proceeds to engage in an incredibly uncomfortable sex scene that is dangerously close to happening in real time. Which is to say it goes on for like a minute and 30 seconds. After Boll's complaints in the Alone in the Dark commentary regarding Tara Reid's prudishness, it's nice to see he found a lead willing to take her clothes off. The next morning, Rayne is lovey-dovey with her new boy-toy, but their love-in is interrupted by the rest of Madsen's group being murdered while they're away. Rayne goes off on her own after exchanging necklaces with Tom Brady.

You can stop stabbing him. His arms and torso have been cut off, and his bloody insides are all over the place. You win, okay? Uncle!

Finding massive plot holes in this movie isn't much of an accomplishment: in one scene Madsen says Rayne's ability to cross water "proves" she's not a true vampire. Yet later the bad guys are able to cross the water to kill Madsen's trainees. During a stereotypical "getting weapons" scene that is only tangentially related to the plot (it gives Davis a supply of holy water), characters marvel at "black powder from China." In the 17th Century. I mean two of the bad-guys wear powdered wigs and they don't recognize gunpowder?! Guns have been common for 200 years, guys.

There's also the fact that the cast, en masse, seem to realize this movie isn't for real so they can start phoning it in even more than they already were. I'm not sure Meat Loaf knew he was even in a movie. Billy Zane's trademark hamminess is severely under-utilized. And consider Michelle Rodriguez's costume:

Michelle Rodriguez's costume during an early fight scene.

Okay so it's not going to win any Oscars but at least they made an effort, right? And yet in Act 3, after she is seduced by the dark side, she trades in that look for something she bought at the Gap.

"Uh, Michelle, you wanna take off the jacket? We started shooting ten seconds ago!"

This lack of internal continuity spread throughout the picture, infecting the wig of an actor of Sir Ben Kingsley's stature!

Academy Award Winner Sir Ben Kingsley's Wig!

Also I mean, he's terrible in this movie to the point that the best use of your time is counting how many times they forgot to give him a wig.

Kingsley's character needs to telepathically reach Rayne, so obviously he needs to take off his wig.

After an extended fight scene, the film ends with a montage of the hilarious gore you've been watching for the past hour and a half, nominally as some sort of commentary, but mostly as a means to relive the highlights of the film's awful effects. The overall result is a hilarious mixture of heavy-handed Continental symbolism and amateur filmmaking.

The DeNiro to Boll's Martin Scorsese, Will Sanderson has appeared in five of Boll's films.

Not surprisingly, as anything but a camp exercise, the movie is a disaster. The obvious LoTR copy-catting is sad, from the helicopter shots of people on horseback to the big group of people wondering what they should doing when they aren't being cut in half ridiculously. The entire cast seems to have taken one lesson in the King's English and realized it was pointless; Michelle Rodriguez makes a real effort, but Madsen tries not to slur his words more than remembering an accent. BloodRayne was Boll's third full length film released in the United States, and while some naive folks still hoped that with a budget and the right property maybe he could turn things around, BloodRayne was a 20 million dollar budget disaster that solidified Boll, once and for all, as "that incompetent guy who makes awful video game movies."

Screenwriter Guinevere Turner, whose other credits include American Psycho and The Notorious Bettie Page, recounts her experience working with Uwe and compares BloodRayne to Showgirls, an especially apt comparison considering Boll is essentially a more inept version of Paul Verhoeven.

Arbitrary Rating:

2 Swords to the Eye


  1. I love Turner's thoughts at the end.

    1. Yeah, she's great. I wish people involved in the production of shitty movies came clean about this stuff more often.

  2. They should remake 1 and 2 completely to something more like the movie Catwoman except with raynes videogame smarttalk it would be quite the dimepiece