Angels" (aka "Thralls") is a pretty funny movie if you
approach it in the right mood, and the second half has its tongue so
firmly entrenched in its cheek that you wonder why the movie wasn't sold
as a comedy instead of a B-grade take on "Charlie's
Angels". The script has nary an idea what it actually is,
although that doesn't stop it from being hilarious, especially at the hour
mark, when Lorenzo Lamas shows up to crack wise until the end credits
roll. As to the whole "Charlie's Angels" feel, I suppose
watching five attractive women in tight black leather faking martial arts
isn't any worst than watching Drew Barrymore faking it. At least these
women looks like they can actually run a few yards without the risk
of a stroke.
Before the film hits its
happy-go-lucky hour mark, much of "Angels" is played with a semi
straight face, as teen runaway Ashley (Siri Baruc) joins big sister Leslie
(Leah Cairns) at big sis' new gig -- running a late-night rave on the
night of the winter solstice with her black leather clad buddies. How
serious does it get? Well, we learn that Ashley was so unhappy at home
that she tried to kill herself by slicing her wrist. Not once, but twice.
How heavy can you get in a movie about hot vampire chicks running a
late-night rave to make ends meat? Fortunately these fruitless attempts at
pathos are broken up with wacky moments where the vampire chicks leap into
kung fu action, which is really quite hilarious, although I'm sure
director Ron Oliver intended them to be taken seriously.
What Leslie didn't tell Ashley is that the women are
all thralls -- that is, half-vampire/half-humans. The women are led by the
tough-talking Lean (Sonya Salomaa), who came up with a plan to escape the
clutches of Mr. Jones (Lamas), the vampire who captured, turned, and then
locked up the women in his personal harem in an upstairs room. (Which is
bathed in bright white fluorescent light for some reason -- probably
because it looks cool.) The women plan on using this particular night to
cast a spell from the Necronomicon, aka The Book of the Dead (not to be
confused with the Necronomicon that Ash and company used to summon
deadites in the "Evil
Dead" movies, mind you), and free themselves from Jones forever.
As it turns out, Mr. Jones isn't just a devious
bastard, he's also a smart bastard (although this last point is somewhat
questionable, but I digress), and he had been manipulating the women all
this time. You see, Jones wants to rule the world, and plans on using some
ancient demon from another dimension to give him the power to do so. To
that end, he's funded the thralls' club enterprise so he can use it for
the big night, much to Leslie and company's chagrin. Now why did he need
the club in the first place? Didn't he have these women locked up? If he
had the money to open the club in the first place, why didn't he just open
one himself? All of this seems rather illogically elaborate if you ask me.
Okay, so I spoiled the film's Big Reveal. Not that
you should feel betrayed, as the movie's plot is so slapdash, and much of
it has all the signs of being made up as production went along, that I
feel no remorse for having ruin the movie's big plot twist. (There are a
couple of more twists, including the revelation that one of the thralls is
working with Jones, just so you don't feel that I've ruined everything.)
In any case, "Blood Angels" should have been labeled a comedy in
the first place, as it works much better when you stop taking it even a
little bit seriously.
As low-budget semi-horror films go, "Blood
Angels" is actually a lot better than you would expect. The
performances are all generally acceptable, even if you end up confusing
the thralls for one another. Let's see, there's the Asiatic looking chick,
who does most of the action; Leslie is the big sister who serves drinks
for most of the movie; Lean is the tall blonde drink of water; and there's
the black girl who, naturally, DJs cause, you know, DJ'ing is a Black
Thang. There are some mild T&A, but for the most part the film teases
more than it reveals, which makes it something like the bar movie
"Coyote Ugly". The film's gratuitous violence and jokey
decapitations are probably the reasons for the "R" rating.
Otherwise this is a "PG-13" movie gussied up to look sluttier
than it really is.
Although most of "Blood Angels" works in a,
"Just go along with it" way, the first hour does tend to bog
down in unnecessary exposition, some of it manifested by individual
thralls flashing back to their unfortunate encounter with Jones. Without a
doubt, taking everything in with a chuckle and a smirk is the way to go.
After all, the film is so chock full of illogical plot details that, if
you tried to make sense of it, your head would probably explode. For
instance, why does getting bitten and turned into a thrall (or a vampire,
as is the case with one of the women later in the film), instantly mean
you know kung fu? I guess it's like in "The
Matrix", where characters learn kung fu through downloading. Only
here it's through, er, blood transfusions, I guess.
"Blood Angels" is full of moments that
don't really make a lot of sense. It's best to just go along with the
film's Tomfoolery, such as the funny Richard Cox, playing Rennie, Jones'
human/undead lackey. Cox liven things up quite a bit whenever he's
onscreen, and it's a shame he's not onscreen nearly enough. Kevan Ohtsji,
playing a poseur who finally gets laid, also delivers some laughs. Then
there's the thrall whose breasts turns out to be conduits for, well, two
CGI serpents. Where did the serpents come from, and do all the thralls
have snakes in their nipples? It's questions like that that keeps me up at
nights. Oh wait, no it doesn't. Moving on.
The best thing about "Blood Angels" -- and
I never thought I would say this about any movie -- is Lorenzo Lamas, who
seems to be having a ball cracking one joke after another. The film is so
in love with his wisecracking vampire that the filmmakers even set up a
sequel. And you know what? If it means Lamas' totally unserious vampire
will come back, and screenwriters Lisa Morton and Brett Thompson will go
the same loony, completely unexplainable route, I'm signing up to review