Archive for the ‘Low-budget horror movies’ Tag

Nazis, Vampires and Lesbians Brawl in “BloodRayne: The Third Reich.”   Leave a comment

BUTT-KICKING vampire slayer Rayne carves up Nazi bloodsuckers.

BUTT-KICKING vampire slayer Rayne carves up Nazi bloodsuckers.


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.

STAR Natassia Malthe brings two big things to the role of Rayne.

STAR Natassia Malthe brings two big things to the role of Rayne.

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.

SCIENCE PROJECT: Dr. Manger (Clint Howard) delights in experimenting on vampires.

SCIENCE PROJECT: Dr. Mangler (get it?) delights in experimenting on vampires.

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.

ZEIG HELL! Nazi Commandant Brand (Michael Mare) is consumed by bloodlust.

Zeig HELL! Nazi Commandant Brand (Michael Mare) is consumed by bloodlust.

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.

RAYNE takes out time from vamire slaying to enjoy a steamy massage.

RAYNE takes out time from vamire slaying to enjoy a steamy massage.

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.

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Vampires run amok in a women’s prison in the gorgeously illustrated, 80-page graphic novel Night Cage. When a newly made vampire is sentenced to an escape-proof, underground slammer, she quickly begins to spread the contagion.


In horror movies, when women are being chased they ALWAYS fall down, as actress Stacie Burmeister ably demonstrates.

By Michael Forsyth

When the Marketing Director of Freedom’s Hammer Books suggested that it would be a terrific idea for me to create a YouTube video to promote my new horror novel Hour of the Beast I was thrilled — until of course he told me I’d be given a budget of just $500 to do it! But, after all, back in my days as a film student  in NYU’s prestigious graduate program in the ’80s (alongside Spike Lee) I routinely shot short movies for peanuts, so I said, “No problem.”

The goal was simple: A 2-to-5-minute video showing a girl running for her life through the woods, screaming her head off, clad in a blood-stained wedding dress as in the opening scene of the book. I’d set the scene in daylight, rather than under moonlight, though, because there was no way I could adequately light a night shoot on my budget. (Hey, my werewolf buffs who haunt the Werewolf Cafe website assure me that the whole moon thing is malarky anyway). Simple, huh? What could possibly go wrong?

First step was to hire a camerman. The videographer I’d used for a quickie project for the Greenville Family Partnership was unavailable, so I figured the easiest thing would be to recruit an up and comer from the local film school. The head honcho smugly assured me that  none of his of students would work for the measly $200 I was willing to pay. When I explained that it was an under-five- minute movie that would require about a half a day’s time, he sternly lectured me that NO five-minute movie was simple. True, but the guy’s tone irked me — since I was directing and editing films  when he was still in diapers. That night I happened to attend a street fair and ran into a camerman with a professional video camera, recording a band’s performance. We chatted, he was available, and he was hired.

Next step: Hire an actress. With no budget for a newspaper ad, I posted an ad on Craig’slist for an attractive blonde (like on the book cover) with a Playboy playmate figure who could scream like a banshee. Bad move. Not only did I not get a SINGLE response, I was bombarded by spam for months! So I turned to the many wonderful theater companies here in Greenville, SC and asked the directors to recommend actresses that fit the bill. One lady denied her actresses a shot at the gig, warning me that heading into the woods with strange men is something she would warn them to be very leery of.  Other directors promised to  brainstorm and get back to me, but never did. Luckily, one director suggested two great actresses and ONE of them got in touch with me.

Amazingly, the  single girl I “auditioned” looked perfect for the role — blonde, curvy with loads of experience — and the good-natured gal was game for the project. Best of all, her mom was seamstress, who could make any alterations needed for the wedding dress I had to buy.  She got the job.

At my wife’s suggestion, I went online to shop for a wedding dress and found one that looked sensational — for under $150.  Other props like fake blood, muddy-face makeup and werewolf gear were easy to get at a local costume shop. Halloween was around the corner and it was vital to shoot soon because  even the toasty South Carolina weather would be cooling soon and my star was going to have to run around in skimpy lingerie.  Paris Mountain State Park was the ideal location and the head ranger okayed the shoot.

Well, the wedding dress didn’t arrive in time. It turned out it was made in China and when I tracked it down it was in the back of a truck somewhere in Qinghai Province! The shoot had to be postponed and the actress  was unavailable on the days the park allowed. I needed a new star immediately. The camerman, Hunter Moss, told me his girlfriend was an actress and totally gorgeous. I was a bit skeptical, since (sorry Hunter) the guy is — ahem — no Brad Pitt. “Love is blind,” I recalled, holding my breath as I waited to meet  her. But miraculously she really was a knockout — actually prettier than the original actress, with the kind of chest that makes teenage boys drool. The wedding dress sized for the other girl finally arrived and, again, in a stroke of luck, it fit her with a few alterations. She was a brunette, but with a wig she was a convincing blonde.

On the scheduled shooting day it rained cats and dogs. When I tried to reschedule, the ranger wouldn’t let us. All the postponements apparently pissed him off. I scouted some smaller parks and found a remote one, Timmons Park. It wasn’t exactly untamed wilderness, but had virtually no visitors, featured plenty of wooded places and even a bubbling brook for the actress to hop over, a sequence I hadn’t envisioned. Fantastic!

The day of the shoot, Hunter and the stunning actress, Stacie Burmeister, had only only four hours available, but I figured that was just enough time.

It had been warm all week, but that morning the temperature dropped precipitously — the coldest on that date in decades, I later learned. I knew that even spunky Stacie wouldn’t be able to hang too long, particulary after the dress gets torn off and she has to run barefoot in a barely-there slip. (Good thing I didn’t go with my original idea, which was to have the leading lady strip to a THONG to better elude the werewolf!)

My cast and crew of two got delayed enroute, cutting the shoot time to just 3 hours. Then when we got to the location, I saw that the parking lot was so packed there were cars parked on the grass. To my horror, little-known Timmons Park was teeming with people. There were even vendors selling hotdogs and T-shirts.  I snagged the nearest passerby, who informed me “Today is the Annual Frisbee Tournament.” Once a freaking year — what were the odds?!!

But there were a few pockets of unpopulated woods. And while I had carefully handpicked the spots for each sequence, Hunter and I were quickly able to find substitutes that were fine — as long as you kept the nearby homes up on the hills out of frame. So we went for it.

What saved us were three things: One, I was totally prepared, something I’d learned from film school. An amateur cartoonist, I’d drawn a storyboard detailing each shot, so I knew EXACTLY what I wanted. Two, Hunter turned out to be an able, rough and ready camerman who could compose shots matching that storyboard quickly. And three, Stacie was a pro who could hit her mark and get action right on the first take (even making stuff like falling down believable). And what a trouper! By the last shot, she was freezing her buns off, covered in dirt and fake blood, scratched up and exhausted, but she didn’t once complain. We pulled it off, with ten minutes to spare.

There were some technical  hitches. Converting the footage from mini-DV to DVD to a file format editable on a computer proved to be a herculean task. Coming to the rescue was my old NYU pal Bill Pace — now a film professor at the New School — who guided me through the tricky steps.  I had to teach myself linear editing. When I edited in the dinosaur era we cut apart film  frames, rearranged them by hand and taped them back together. But the program I used on my PC, Adobe Premiere 9, turned out to be very user-friendly, so easy a caveman could do it you might say.

After all that, when I initially posted the video on YouTube, it streamed terribly — pausing every few seconds. I almost wept. But again an old buddy saved the day. My friend John J. Stevens of Bullfrog Communications up in Long Island, who I labored alongside doing industrials years ago and last saw at my bachelor party in 1997 — told me what to do and now it plays just fine.

The result is below. If you like it, please share it. I’ve been telling friends I want this YouTube video to become the most viral thing since herpes. (See, if I’d said ‘the most viral thing since AIDS,’ that would have been in poor taste). After viewing it, YOU get to be the critic for a change. Offer your honest opinon in the poll.


I created another version that included an alternate ending. Which do you prefer?




In the graphic novel Night Cage, vampires overrun a women’s prison–and to escape, four surviving inmates must fight their way through an army of the undead. Picture ‘Salem’s Lot meets Orange is the New Black.

Vampires take over a women’s prison in the spooky, steamy graphic novel Night Cage, Volume 2


Copyright C. Michael Forsyth

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