By C. Michael Forsyth
How could I resist watching “BloodRayne: The Third Reich” when it popped up on Netflix? A sword-slinging Vampirella battling Nazis; steamy lesbian sex and Opie Taylor’s kid brother as a kooky Dr. Mengele-type makes for a C movie well worth a 3:00 a.m. viewing when you’re in the grip of insomnia.
Rayne, like Blade, is a dhampir – the offspring of a woman who was bitten by a vampire while pregnant. She has all the abilities of vampires, such as superhuman strength and speed, but none of their vulnerabilities. She’s immune to holy water, garlic, crucifixes, the insatiable thirst for human blood — and, most importantly, the “day walker” isn’t harmed by sunlight. She’s driven by a mission to wipe out the scourge of vampirism one bloodsucker at a time.
As this movie begins, however, the curvaceous heroine’s primary antagonists aren’t vampires. Instead she’s kicking the butts of Hitler’s stormtroopers in occupied Romania. Rayne is far from the first superhero to mix it up with the Nazis. Captain America and Superman duked it out with them decades ago. But it is novel to see a busty, fanged Xena-type taking on German soldiers with twin samurai swords. And Nazis are still the best villains of all time.
Rayne and her allies in the Resistance are put on the defensive after she inadvertently bites a German commandant. He inherits most of her unique traits and Rayne is horrified by having sired a vampire for the first time. She vows to put him down before he delivers to Adolf Hitler the power to spawn an invincible army.
The story is well written and although the low budget is clearly evident, the production values are good enough that you accept the time period and setting. The movie’s biggest flaw is the star Nastassia Malthe. The actress brings to role a pair of magnificent breasts and… well, that’s it. Her wooden performance is as awkward as an eighth grader auditioning for a school play. Making things even worse, she’s hampered by a ridiculous costume: an aviator-type leather hat with earflaps that looks like it belongs on a Peanuts character. Malthe takes over the part of Rayne from Kristina Loken, who appeared in the first two films in the series and presumably was more convincing.
On the plus side, you have former child actor Clint Howard as a Nazi doctor who conducts gruesome experiments on vampires. Ron Howard’s younger brother starred in the 1967-1969 TV show “Gentle Ben,” but he’s never had quite the squeaky clean, all-American looks and persona of Andy Griffith’s screen son. Here, he puts his rat-like teeth and raspy voice to good use in creating a very creepy and entertaining character.Michael Pare does not fare as well as Commandant Brand. I’ve always liked this actor, who appeared in “The Philadelphia Experiment,” and wonder why he wasn’t able to parlay his exceptional good looks and talent into a berth on the A-list. Here, however, he delivers a fairly bland performance. He acts pretty much the same before and after his conversion. Pare’s Brooklyn accent doesn’t help.
In the movie, we’re supposed to accept that the actors playing Germans and Romanians are speaking in their native languages, although we hear them speaking English with American accents. I understand the concept and it is totally logical. If we’re hearing characters speak as they sound to each other, why indeed should they have funny accents? The conceit was used in the classic commando flick “Where Eagles Dare” with mixed results. You could totally buy that when Richard Burton posing as a Nazi officer spoke in a clipped British accent, he was actually speaking German. When Clint Eastwood talked with an American accent it was harder to suspend disbelief.
The trouble with using this approach in a low-budget movie is that it risks the viewer thinking that the stars can’t act well enough to fake foreign accents.
Despite its flaws, the movie appears to be moving toward a rousing finale as a convoy led by the vampire commandant heads to Berlin to hand over the secret of immortality to Hitler. Unfortunately it ends rather abruptly. Darn! A scene of Rayne going toe to toe with a vampire Fuhrer would have elevated the film into a truly fun guilty pleasure. Instead, I’m afraid I can give it only a two out of five swastika rating.
I’m excited to announce the launch of my first graphic novel, Night Cage! The premise of the horror story is simple: Vampires take over a women’s prison. Just imagine Orange is the New Black meets Salem’s Lot.
The project is being funded through Kickstarter. Folks who jump on the bandwagon will get a boatload of goodies and rewards, ranging from advance copies of the book and exclusive art, posters and T-shirts to a chance to be drawn into the graphic novel as a character!
Please check out the video out HERE, and share the news with all your social media friends!
SPEAKING OF VAMPIRES…