If you've always wanted to see a cinematic combo of Conan The Barbarian, Elektra, and Dracula's Daughter, your prayers have been answered: BloodRayne is out on DVD on May 23, 2006.
In eighteenth century Romania, a foxy redheaded dhampir (half-human/half-vampire) called Rayne (an emotive Kristanna Loken) escapes from the freakshow where she's been forced to work, and heads out to find her father… to kill him. Kagan (a badly-wigged Ben Kingsley) is the King of Vampires, so he won't be easy to dispatch.
To get luck on her side, Rayne resolves to gather the three magical talismans (in the shapes of an eye, a rib, and a heart) that will make her truly invincible. Along the way, she joins forces with three taciturn members of The Brimstone Society (a mumbling Michael Madsen, a snarling Michelle Rodriguez, and a cardboard Matthew Davis).
BloodRayne is a cheesy movie, but it's not amongst director Uwe Boll's worst. The problem with it is unevenness — the actors go from horribly over-the-top (Meat Loaf Aday) to reasonably believable (Geraldine Chaplin); the costumes go from cool (Kingley's vampire attire is top-drawer) to cruddy (Lokken's black and red outfit looks as though it's right off the 50% discount rack at Hot Topic); and the story teeters between fun quest-fantasy/horror and sappy "finding myself"/romance.
The best things about the movie are the stirring score (by Henning Lohner, who also did The Ring Two), the luscious locations (one of which is Bran Castle, Transylvania, Romania), and the creative, competent cinematography by Mathias Neumann. The camera angles, colors, use of light and shadow, and the segues (a tarot card that morphs to a "real" scene is really fun, for example) are all above-par for a movie of this ilk.
If you're looking for fast-food horror, you could do a lot worse than BloodRayne — it is, after all, based on a videogame. There are plenty of gory deaths (neck bites, sword-rammings, bi-sections, beheadings, and much, much more) and Lokken's male fans will enjoy seeing her ravage a willing victim of her lusty shenanigans.
This version of Bloodrayne is the Unrated Director's Cut (widescreen), which also includes a DVD ROM of the game.
The additional release material is pretty schlocky, yet oddly entertaining. The worst/best featurette is called "Dinner With Uwe Boll" and it's a nearly hour-long chat between the film's director and two unidentified people (hello, editor: textual captions ARE an option on your Avid!). I actually recognized the hungry reporter from IGN.com so I had an advantage there, and I later figured out that the woman with bad posture is in the videogame business (I think).
The idea here was to replicate Jon Favreau's "Dinner for Five" or "Dinner with the Masters of Horror" I guess, but rather than going to an nice, atmospheric little restaurant or café, the dinner is staged on a card table that's against a bare, blank wall. The acoustics in the room are terrible. Still, for fans or foes of the director, it's interesting to listen to him talk about everything from the first movie that got his attention (The Bounty, when he was 10), to the financing and making of BloodRayne, to his many Internet detractors (he's talking to you, Harry Knowles!).
"CGI Making of the Film" is a compilation of before-and-after clips showing how computer graphics were added to create the effects (ranging from burnt vampire skin to dark storm clouds in the sky). At first, I thought there was something wrong with the disc or my player, but actually there is NO SOUND on this featurette. Not even background music.
"Storyboards" shows a scene in a black and white sketch.
"Director's Commentary" is actually the director joined by stars Kristanna Loken and Will Sanderson, first A.D. Brian Knight, and producer Shawn Williamson. They talk about everything from the opening title sequence (inspired by Bosch and Goya, it really is noteworthy), to the training for the action sequences, the CGI, and the gaming tie-in.
"Theatrical Trailer", is so bad it's good — this one will age like fine vinegar (watch it 10 years from now and see if I'm not right).
DVD-ROM disc for computers running Windows XP. You can play Bloodrayne 2 and slay some vampires.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson