WARNING: spoilers ahead
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First, I’ll recap all that has happened so far up to the point at which I decided to start with the “live” commentary.
Recap: time code 0:00:00 to time code 0:08:45 :
The film opens with a night-time scene at some 19th century Thai village. The village is raided by some bandits, but we neither learn why, or who they are. In fact, it is quite difficult to tell who’s who and what’s what – with the exception that, thankfully, the bandits all wear white shirts while the villagers are all shirtless, so at least we can vaguely sort them into two opposing camps.
In the next scene, we see two of the white-shirted guys drag a young woman into the lair of some sort of mad scientist/landowner, who just that second had a sip of some green concoction and – by way of monologue – told us: “immortality makes me thirsty”. So much for exposition. The mad scientist is trying to convince the woman (yet again, it seems) that she should become his mistress. And she refuses repeatedly, saying she loves her husband. Then his father (??) barges into the room and locks his mad son (??) into a dungeon. But the mad guy manages to pass orders to his followers to pursue the girl and torture her to death. Maybe this happens in the same village as before? Maybe she was initially taken from that village? Maybe the guy who fled the scene in the initial combat and who seemed somehow important was her husband? Nothing of that is explained on any way; I am just guessing here. The older guy is pretty miffed about that whole torturing-a-girl-to-death thing and gives instructions to keep this scientist imprisoned. I still think that he may be the scientist’s father, but I cannot be sure, because there is absolutely no information given on that guy. Nothing of that seems to matter anyhow, because suddenly, at minute 0:08:45, we jump forward to the present day, but not before the film-makers offer us some sort of montage of the scientist in his cell that is supposed to show us that he is indeed mad (as if we did not know that already), followed by a scene in which he beds down inside a water-filled glass sarcophagus (which is clearly not part of his cell, so where the hell is he?) that combusts into smoke and white foam and vanishes with him inside. Huh?
Recap Summary: Now that the time has progressed to the present, I am not sure if any of those people from the past (save for the apparently immortal scientist) will ever turn up again. So I have no idea what to make of the guy that I vaguely assume to be the dead girl’s husband. The first scene seemed to suggest that he is somehow important for the plot, because it seemed that the attackers were mainly after him, and because the other villagers helped him to escape. But that now seems odd for someone who was basically on screen for only about a minute.
Now, between that initial fight scene and the girl’s torture/death scene, the film sets a pretty gruesome standard in the gore department, and I dread that more of the same is to follow.
Now, I’ll begin my “live”-commentary, two eyes on the screen, one finger at the ‘pause’ button:
0:08:45 – OK, that house (some sort of Thai version of a manor house) looks quite impressive from the outside (in a sugary kind of way). Think Brighton Pavilion, just less camp.
0:09:00 – A young couple is led into the house by an old guy with a flash light; he describes the house like a real estate broker and talks about the past like a local historian. Unfortunately, nothing he says makes much sense, and it does not help to shed any light on the past nine minutes of this film. But at least we now know the name of the mad scientist: Tevarak (??). The old guy refers to him as an alchemist, adding that some people back in the day thought of him as a sort of warlock, which he says is nonsense.
0:09:30 – OK, I had to rewind that bit: that Alchemist has apparently sold the house to the grandfather of the young guy? And the grandfather forbade his heirs to sell the place, and even put a curse to that effect into place? So, more characters we do know nothing about, and more back story that is not explained in any way. Great.
The house looks great from the inside as well, by the way, at least the little bits that we get to see of it.
0:10:10 – Now the old guy is about to fix some dinner, and suggests that in the meantime the young folks check out the dungeons for a laugh. And the young nitwit thinks this is a good idea, in spite of his girlfriend’s protest, so they go down into the basement.
0:11:40 – Well, you may call me a big girl’s blouse, but when I come across a perfectly vertical “living wall”, made up of hundreds of live rats, I usually turn around and leave whatever dungeon I am in at the time. Not so this brave lot, they just soldier on. Dungeon looks okay, by the way, a bit styrofoamy, but not bad.
0:12:50 – OK, so the girlfriend, who did not want to be there in the first place and thinks it is all pretty spooky, just opened a mysterious wooden cabinet purely on a whim, and now is completely covered in roaches, or some other sort of bug.
0:13:10 – Uugh! So, apparently, after getting rid of all the bugs, she notices that there is one still left inside her pants and for some reason she can’t get it out but needs her boy-friend to do that for her. A sure-fire candidate for the best original screenplay category, if ever I saw one.
0:13:40 – D’oh! So only now do they realise that the floor of the room in which they have been walking around for the past two minutes is completely covered in giant snakes. This is a whole new kind of dumb.
0:15:10 – OK, in the past 90 seconds the two geniuses ran back up the stairs, only to see the door fall shut in front of them. Now, remember, the older guy is fixing dinner, and he knows that they have gone to the dungeon. So the intelligent thing to do would be to stay put and wait for him to find them. Instead, these two prize-goofs turn around, go back down to where the rats, the bugs, and the snakes are, and enter deeper and deeper into the dungeon. Unfazed by the swarms of bats coming their way. Two minutes ago I started to hate them enough to wish they would die soon so that I am spared more of this “plot”, and now I am seriously considering that their death would also benefit humanity. Two people that stupid should not be allowed to breed.
When the guy tried to pry the door at the top of the stairs open, he hurt his fingers and there is a bit of blood dripping on the floor. I wonder if that’s going to become relevant later – ooh, look, there is an unusually large rat coming into contact with his blood, and its eyes are glowing red.
By the way, while this borderline-retarded Yuppie couple enters deeper and deeper into the dungeon and sees another door fall shut behind them (nice work, guys!), we hear the girl refer to the old guy as “Uncle Yannick”, so he may be neither a real estate guy, nor a caretaker or servant, as I assumed.
0:15:30 – Dead body alert!
0:16:10 – Right. Now I am seriously pissed off. Another dungeon door just opened, and a further three young nitwits appear out of nowhere, apparently friends of the couple. Friends we did not know existed, did not know were also coming to the house, and did not hear anyone mention or reference in any way.
Aaaaaand now they are all upstairs having dinner. WTH?
Some expository dialogue: apparently the house is far away from civilisation; even the need for a helicopter ride is mentioned just in order to get anywhere. And apparently, the young Yuppie nitwit has found some ancient text and translated it from Tibetan into Thai. Riiiiight. And he says he would like to know what the past was like, and his girlfriend says he should be careful, he might turn into Dracula. What? Where did that come from?
0:18:10 – OK, cancel the helicopter. Apparently, dinner is already over, and the three friends of the couple are on their way home. By car. On a road that looks pretty bloody decent to me.
0:19:10 – The girl in that group just had a gory flashback – no explanation given – and because of her panic attack the driver almost crashed the car. Which, thankfully, is nearly impossibly as this road far away from civilisation is perfectly straight, smooth and even, and it is also as wide as an airport landing strip.
0:19:55 – And now we find ourselves in a night club. Apparently, the Yuppie-guy who may or may not be an heir to the manor house (still not sure about that) is the owner of the night club? And somehow also an expert in translating Tibetan texts, remember? Anyway, we learn that it is still the same evening, and the manor house is referred to here as “the palace”. There had been one or two small funny bits thrown into this film so far, but is was difficult to say if they were supposed to be funny, or only unintentionally so. But here we have – for the first time, I believe – a scene that is actually meant to be funny. It is not.
It is Halloween, by the way, and there are some themed decorations at the club.
0:23:20 – OK, this is getting more ridiculous by the minute. There was a zombie-attack, but it turned out to be just a dream. And now there is a young, pretty, seductive girl in Yuppie-guy’s bed (where the hell is his girl-friend?) saying her father sent her to bring him some milk. But her father can only possibly be “Uncle Yannick”, and if he is his uncle (which I am still not sure about), then she is his cousin… urgh!
0:25:00 – Right, so apparently, some of the actors from the opening scenes are appearing again, but sort of as different people, by the way of reincarnations? I guess? And just now that I have typed that, they mention reincarnation in the film. One of Yuppie-guy’s friends saves an old man (reincarnated from the village scene of minute one) from some thieves, and as reward receives an ancient Buddhist ring.
0:28:30 – More creepy dreams and stuff.
0:29:30 – Oh, great, a dream-within-dream. *sigh*
0:30:00 – Complete change of scene. Middle-aged creep accosts a young woman, who sits at a bus stop at night having seemingly drunken herself into a stage of unconsciousness. As he talks to her, she slides over to one side and we realise that she has vampire bite-marks on her neck, as well as some blood.
0:30:40 – OK, so this film is definitely supposed to have comedic moments in it. They are not really funny, mind you, but still… It is the thought that counts, isn’t it?
0:34:00 – So, to recap the past three minutes: Yuppie-guy is renovating the palace, and for the party he has had some sort of coffin brought into the palace, which he has stored in the dungeons. His girlfriend has not been with him the past few days, but now comes to the palace and confronts him about the coffin. She is getting on his nerves, so he locks her up in a cell in the dungeon for a while. But two of their friends (including the ring-receiving dude) free her.
0:38:00 – With his girl-friend gone for only a few minutes, Yuppie-guy is moving on and wants to console himself with the girl we have to assume is his cousin? But the Alchemist, who has re-materialised out of some sort of swamp-thing/marshmallow-y goo, interrupts them to feed on the girl.
Seconds earlier, he and Yuppie-guy (who seems to be under his spell) had had a conversation in the dungeon. Apparently, the two friends of the Yuppie-guy are reincarnations of people the Alchemist had hated in the past (the dead girl and her husband, most likely?).
0:41:00 – the cousin-girl is now a vampire ghoul and is confronted by a magician/slayer – no idea where he is coming from or what his story is. The Alchemist saves her at the last minute – so apparently he still needs her for something.
0:44:00 – A big party is going down at the palace (now referred to at times as “the castle”). But we only hear about it, and do not see it.
0:45:00 – Ring-dude is telling “Uncle Yannick” about some missing girls, who he says he has seen at the club before, and is somehow sure were at the party at the palace. He also says he suspects Yuppie-guy; and he says that he has talked to some Llama; and that he has to get the Tibetan manuscript; and that he has to reverse the curse. There is no explanation, no connection. It seems clear to me that several scenes are missing in this film.
00:48:30 – It is Halloween, and everybody is in fancy dress. The Alchemist confronts the woman who is the reincarnation of the girl whose death he ordered a century earlier. And while ring-dude is breaking into the palace to steal some manuscripts, there are apparently also two comic-relief burglars loose in the grounds.
00:56:00 …and more gore.
00:57:00 – Ring-dude and his companions (some of whom I have never seen before) have acquired the manuscript, and are now testing it by bringing a decomposed cat back to life. The they try to reverse the spell and succeed in that as well. So since that spell is, apparently, what gave the Alchemist eternal life, they have now a way to fight him. There are still 38 minutes running time left, so now I fear a far too long, bloody, and ultimately pointless showdown.
00:58:00 – The Alchemist and the Yuppie-guy are driving in their car – and it seems they are driving towards the place where our heroes are, in order to confront them. But as they are still chanting the reversal spell, the Alchemist starts to wither away, so they quickly turn around an drive away from the spell (which, apparently, works stronger close to the chanters, and stops working when you are far enough away from them). So, driving in the opposite direction, the Alchemist becomes young and handsome again.
00:59:00 – Our heroes decide they are going to use the chant again the following night (when the moon is full and the chant will be stronger, apparently), and they plan to do so at the palace to be closer to the Alchemist and his coffin, etc. They call this a suicide mission. I call this 100 minutes of my life I am never going to get back.
01:01:00 – OK, so the Yuppie-guy enters a room where some of the chanters are and takes the manuscript from them (nobody in this film ever makes a copy of anything, it seems), without anyone really making an attempt to stop him, even though he is alone. We learn that the Buddhist ring that the ring-dude has, is able to hurt vampires pretty badly.
01:02:00 – The Alchemist destroys the manuscript. Meanwhile we see that the house of the ring-dude has been ransacked – possibly by the Yuppie looking for the manuscript at a time before the previous scenes took place? Anyway, there follows an entirely pointless and apparently not plot-related conversation between the ring-dude and a girl that apparently is a cousin of the Yuppie. She is off to a night club, and the Yuppie and the Alchemist follow her
01:07:00 – I hate these people. Ring-dude, who now knows how important his ring can be in the fight against the vampires (which he knows is heading towards a climax soon), GIVES AWAY THE RING TO HIS GIRLFRIEND. We also learn about his theory that she is the reincarnation of the girl who has been tortured to death a century earlier, while we are probably meant to infer that he is the reincarnation of her husband.
01:07:30 – The Alchemist decides that he wants to feed off the Yuppie’s girlfriend as well, and the Yuppie-guy is barely protesting.
01:08:00 à 01:11:30 – Now reincarnation-girl (girlfriend of ring-dude) allows her friend (the Yuppie’s cousin who has apparently been turned into a vampire off screen) to lure her into the woods, where her handbag containing the ring is stolen by a biker gang paid by the Alchemist’s three main henchwomen: the Yuppie’s girlfriend, the Yuppie’s cousin, and Uncle Yannick’s daughter (who may or may not also be a cousin of the Yuppie). They encourage the bikers to throw the ring into a shallow lake, promising them sex in return, and then they kill the bikers. Meanwhile, ring-dude’s girlfriend, who is alone in the woods and now without the ring, is falling under the Alchemist’s spell and follows him. One of the bikers, by the way, is not as easily killed off as the others and is jumping into the water to retrieve the ring, because it must have somehow dawned on him that that may be a way to save his life; but they kill him before he can succeed.
01:12:30 – The Alchemist tries to woo the reincarnation girl (ring-dude’s girlfriend), who is chained to a pillar (just like a century earlier), but without success; meanwhile, his followers try to lure young people at the night club into his scheme, but only those who were born on a full moon – I assume their blood is especially tasty?
01:13:15 – There is a semi-naked fellow with a partially blackened face, an old-timey lantern and a bow and arrow. I have no idea if we have ever seen him before, but he looks like he has just escaped from a bad version of *Peter Pan*. He finds the dead biker, who apparently had clutched the ring in his hand the very moment he died. There follows a montage (free of dialogue) in which this guy fences the ring in a pawn-shop, where it is bought by a lady who then promptly loses it in a taxi-cab, where ring-dude finds it.
I now officially hate everybody in this film and want all of them to be killed by the vampires. But let’s not limit ourselves to these characters – I hope the vampires kill the writers first.
If you are still reading this by this point, you may suffer from a severe form of masochism.
This montage wasted another two minutes of film, and apparently all this happens within a few hours. The cab driver, by the way, is the very same man who gave ring-dude the ring in the first place, and he grins knowingly, so all of this is about karma and stuff, I guess.
It’s too bad that only seconds later ring-dude smashes the ring in a bad slap-stick move. That thing falls apart not like metal and precious stone, but rather like plastic and more plastic.
Aaaaaaaaaaaah +++stop press+++ the guy who found the ring in the cab only to smash it seconds later was not ring-dude but one of his friends. They are all so bland, I can’t tell them apart. Earlier, ring-dude had often been wearing a cream-coloured shirt, but now his friend is wearing a cream-coloured shirt.
Anyway, the friend shows him the bits and pieces of broken ring he scraped up from the floor. He then sets out to repair the ring.
As for the “plot”, we are told that more girls have gone missing (which we already knew).
01:17:30 – Meanwhile, at the night club, the police is confronting a large horde of zombies (?), but the police apparently believe this is a bad joke (like a flash mob or something).
01:18:00 – we can also see that the Alchemist, by whatever means, is now raising the dead all over the area. There are lots of shots of zombies walking around (neat makeup and costumes). We also see that the zombies at the night-club have overpowered the police and broken through the barricades.
01:19:00 – Hey! The vampire slayer who we still know absolutely nothing about is back. After his previous scene in minute 41, he had vanished as suddenly as he had appeared; and apparently he could not be bothered to actually do something useful until now. There follows a conversation between him and Uncle Yannick that doesn’t make much sense. And the slayer seems to make little distinction in use between the word “zombie” and the word “vampire”.
01:20:00 – More shots of zombie-parades. Apparently, they are all congregating towards the palace.
Ring-dude and his friends arrive there, too, at this moment. They start to fight the zombies and the vampires, teaming up with the slayer and Uncle Yannick who have also just arrived. By the way: the ring is apparently able to turn an umbrella into a sword, simply by touching it.
We now have the showdown and final battle, which all comes much later than I had expected.
Yuppie-guy is killed way too quickly and easily, by the way. Not used effectively in the showdown; no dramatic effect.
The slayer gets hurt fighting the Alchemist, while zombies are entering the palace and are trying to eat the girl that is still tied to the pillars. If these zombies are under the control of the Alchemist, why is he not able to tell them to keep their hands (and teeth) off his dream girl?
In the meantime, the police and the military arrive, but are pretty useless, of course.
More zombies and still more zombies.
I am still not quite sure how the filmmakers managed to morph a vampire film into a zombie apocalypse, but that could not do this film any more harm at this stage. It hit rock bottom ages ago.
01:29:00 Our heroes have freed the chained-up reincarnation-girl and now they flee from the zombies into the dungeons, where they are confronted by the Alchemist. The fight is a bit lame, but has some nice ideas. Ring-dude hacks into the Alchemist’s leg with a sword, then touches the sword with his ring afterwards, turning it pretty painful for the Alchemist. The Alchemist is then shot with a bullet that is apparently a fragment of the ring’s stone (the guy who repaired the smashed ring had also been fiddling with bullets at times in this film).
What follows is a CG death scene that looks far worse than anything you remember from late 1990s computer games.
Following the death of the Alchemist, his coffin explodes and the whole palace starts to crumble. The zombies start running into the building and are all getting burried underneath the rubble. Our heroes have escaped alive, and even Uncle Yannick and the slayer are still breathing.
01:33:00 Just before the end credits start to roll, we see some of the grey ex-Alchemist/marshmallow-goo creeping out of the sewers somewhere in the city. Yay, sequel!!!
I hope you enjoyed the ride. I am off now, looking for a wall to bang my head against…