In 1998, Lady Death creator Brian Pulido announced that the character would make the transition to the screen in the form of an animated feature film. Six years later, the “Lady Death” film finally arrives on video shelves for the perusal of those so inclined. While not exactly worth the long wait, it’s still a decent depiction of the cult comic book character and should satisfy devotees of Chaos! Comics.
“Lady Death” whisks us to medieval times, where we meet a young woman named Hope whose father just happens to be the Devil himself. The locals frown on this to the point of burning her at the stakes, where she is sent to Hell for an awkward family reunion. She refuses to join dad, and is cast out into the wastelands of Hell where she meets a mysterious rebel. Under the rebel’s guidance, she trains to overthrow Lucifer, and is transformed from a fair-haired blonde woman into a hardened warrior named Lady Death. But can her newfound abilities overcome the Prince of Darkness?
One glaring problem with the Lady Death film is the length — it’s a scant 80 minutes, which isn’t enough to adequately cover the ambitious storyline. As a result, the film mostly feels rushed, as if the filmmakers knew they only had a short time to work with and tried to cram everything they could into the allotted time. After making us wait over six years for this, couldn’t they have found it in their hearts to give us fifteen minutes more? It’s fortunate for the film that the plot is intriguing, and does a good job of condensing the comic series into a feature film. Writer Carl Macek does an excellent job of crafting a script to satisfy fans of the character, while making it accessible to those unfamiliar with the Lady Death mythos.
Unfortunately the animation is a bit unremarkable, and if it weren’t for the graphic gore, you’d think you were watching a Saturday morning cartoon. The character rendering is flat and at times the whole thing seems hastily drawn, as if they wanted to get it out before the film got shelved for another six years. Luckily Lady Death herself stands out from the mediocrity, and looks as beautiful onscreen as she does on the comic book page.
Another glaring problem is the title itself. Why call it “Lady Death: The Movie”? It’s rather redundant, as anyone can see that it’s a film, and not likely to be confused with “Lady Death: The Game Show” or “Lady Death: The Biblical Discussion Group”. It lends an air of grandiosity to a production that’s not needed and sounds pretty silly as a result.
Overall, “Lady Death” is a good film for fans of the series, who’ll no doubt be thrilled to finally see their beloved heroine in her own film. But for the rest of us, the production falls short. It has a good plot and fair animation, but crams way too much into a short running time to be enjoyable.
Andrew Orjuela (director) / Carl Macek (screenplay)
CAST: Christine M. Auten …. Lady Death/Hope
Dwight Clark …. Father Orbec
Mike Kleinhenz …. Lucifer