VAMPIRELLA (1996) Reviews of so-bad-it’s-good sci-fi fantasy movie

  

Vampirella is a 1996 American sci-fi fantasy film about the titular character who travels to Earth to seek revenge for her murdered father

Directed and co-produced by Jim Wynorski (CobragatorSharkansas Women’s Prison MassacreGila!PiranhacondaCamel SpidersDinocroc vs. SupergatorGhoulies IVSorceressThe Wasp Woman 1995; Transylvania TwistNot of This Earth 1988; Chopping Mall) from a screenplay written by Gary Gerani based on the comic book by Frank Frazetta and Trina Robbins and the character created by Forrest J. Ackerman. Produced by Paul Hertzberg and Angela Baynes. Executive produced by Roger Corman.

The Concorde/Sunset International Films co-production stars Talisa Soto, Roger Daltrey (The Legacy; Tommy), Richard Joseph Paul, Brian Bloom, Corinna Jones [Harney], Rusty Meyers, Lee de Broux, Tom Deters, Jack Zavorak and Lenny Juliano.

A new movie adaptation of the comic book is apparently in development.

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Reviews:

“Daltrey, who allegedly took the role because the late Keith Moon was a big Vampi fan, is among the least impressive screen Draculas and, even sadder, comes across in his Jamie Blood act as a sub-Austin Powers caricature of himself. Full of bizarre concepts (a gun that projects artificial sunlight, hypodermic injections of holy water, vampires in protective suits modelled on Planet of the Vampires), this is still too makeshift to qualify even as camp.” The Kim Newman Web Site

” …relies on occasional salaciousness in attempts to overcome its stereotypical low budget mid-nineties look and feel. Sometimes it succeeds but more often than not the movie feels like the cheap quickie that it is. There’s potential that it rarely cashes in on but you could do worse – there’s eye candy aplenty here and the whole thing is goofy enough to provide for some mindless amusement.” Rock! Shock! Pop!

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” …a procession of delicious, bubblegum card-esque images and robustly staged set-pieces. And while trim ex-Bond girl Talisa Soto might not fit Vampirella’s costume with the sort of Amazonian curves required of her […] she unloads a quality performance poised somewhere between pathos, tough as nails @rse-kicking, and comedic, fish-out-of-water bemusement as her extraterrestrial neck-biter tries to get to grips with life on earth.” The Schlock Pit

“It fails to make its protagonist stoic and seductive, and its villains threatening. I’m not one to complain about sexy outfits, but this one is beyond distracting. More importantly, Talisa Soto doesn’t look comfortable in it. She doesn’t appear at ease with this role either. She isn’t a great actress.” Tales of Terror

“The plot seems to consist of a string of scenes from the comic book series, with no thought given to whether or not they would work cinematically. Cheap, shoddy and self-consciously campy without being either amusing or interesting, Vampirella is pushed that extra mile into the zone of pain by Daltrey…” TV Guide

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“So-so viewing if you’re able to put your brain in check, though it suffers from a lame finale (that has Daltrey running around in a Dracula cape). While Soto is nice to look at, despite her ugly loose-fitting latex costume, if not much of an actress. Nothing special.” The Video Graveyard

Plot synopsis [contains spoilers]:
Thirty centuries ago, on a distant planet called Drákulon, there is a civilised vampire society that drinks synthetic blood that flows through rivers across the planet. Harmony is interrupted when Vlad Tepish (Roger Daltrey), a rebel vampire who prefers the traditional practice of sucking the blood of others, ends, along with his accomplices, with all the members of the council of elders who govern Drákulon and flees to Earth in order to create a race of vampires with their own ideals. Among the murdered elders was Ella’s father, who, with a desire for revenge, decides to follow Vlad’s trail to Earth.

During her journey, she is forced to stay on Mars for a while and, meanwhile, remains in deep lethargy. A long time later, she is found by astronauts and is taken to Earth. Upon arrival, she immediately begins to do everything possible to reach Vlad, who is now in Las Vegas and pretends to be a singer named Jamie Blood. In her eagerness, she coincides with a special police unit responsible for trapping extraterrestrial beings that intend to damage the Earth.

At first, Ella, who now calls herself Vampirella, intends to continue with her revenge plan, but then allies with the special unit and must fight against Vlad and his vampires to save humanity from being turned into a horde of vampires, although this implies that she violates her own principles of not drinking blood from other beings.

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Choice dialogue:
Vlad [Roger Daltrey]: “And so, as my old friend William Shakespeare once said: ‘Goodnight, sweet prince.'”

Cast and characters:
Talisa Soto … Vampirella
Roger Daltrey … Vlad/Jamie Blood
Richard Joseph Paul … Adam Van Helsing
Brian Bloom … Demos
Corinna Jones [Harney] … Sallah
Rusty Meyers … Quinn
Lee de Broux … Lt. Walsh
Tom Deters … Traxx
Jack Zavorak … Captain Stryker
Lenny Juliano … Carlos
Anne Howard … Stepmother
Angus Scrimm … High Elder
Tyde Kierney … Adam’s Father
David B. Katz … Forry Ackerman
Robert Clotworthy … Professor Steinman
John Landis … Astronaut #1 (Beard)
John Terlesky … Astronaut #2 (Stubble)
Toru Nagai … Mr Nakamuchi
Jay Kessler … Remirez
Jeff Jay … Archie
Eric Randell … Matheson
Peggy Trentini … Vampire Girl #1
Antonia Dorian … Vampire Girl #2
Bret Davidson … Mr Maurice
Patrick J. Statham … Drakulon Guard
Scott Stevensen … Purge Operative
John Oshima … Purge Operative
Anthony Hansen … Big Vampire
Thomas Case … Dark Vampire
Michael Harris … Drakulon Elder
Hilary Halbert … Red-Headed Vampire

Background:
In 2013, director Jim Wynorksi said it was the one film of his he regretted making. “I can look back on it today and just say ‘Oh well’, but back when the memories were fresh and the blood on the floor was yet to dry, it was painful to even edit”, he said. “What went wrong??? Wrong choice for the star, massive union problems in Vegas, studio interference, theft, accidents, 112-degree heat, you name it, we had it happen. But at least I got to see Soupy Sales perform.”

Film facts:
A Vampirella film project had been in development for many years. Hammer Films had planned to make a movie in the late 1970s with actresses such as Caroline Munro and Valerie Leon being considered for the title role. Hammer apparently came close to making the film again in 1978 starring Barbara Leigh; Christopher Wicking wrote a script and John Hough was hired to direct. The film was going to be a co-production with American International Pictures but the deal fell through.

The Forry Ackerman character has a poster for the Australian film Harlequin (1980) in his apartment.

Trailer:

Fight clip:

Currently unavailable on DVD or even VHS but on YouTube in poor quality

Suggested double-bill:
Lifeforce (1985)

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