Lionsgate // 2002 // 94 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Mitchell Hattaway (Retired) // October 14th, 2005
Evil has a new enemy.
Now how did they manage to screw this one up?
Mallory (the strangely appealing Olivia Bonamy) is the leader of an anti-paranormal commando unit working for the French government. What would lead an otherwise ordinary young woman to take up such a life? Well, Mallory unwittingly married a demon. Her husband attempted to sacrifice his new bride on what was supposed to be the first night of their honeymoon, but Mallory turned the tables on him and chopped him up with an ax. (By agreeing to marry the demon, Mallory also unwittingly allowed her blood to be tainted by his.) Mallory then devoted her life to hunting down zombies, vampires, and other assorted doers of Evil.
Aiding Mallory in her quest are a demolitions expert named Vena Cava (who just so happens to be a Goliath-esque transvestite) and a young, mute telepath named Talking Tina (who just so happens to have an IQ of 360). Together they make an unstoppable team of fighters-of-the-weird, tooling around the French countryside in their hot pink hearse. So, when Pope Hieronymus I is kidnapped by a bunch of undead thugs, Mallory and her pals are naturally the only ones who can solve the case.
In their quest to rescue the pontiff, our heroes cross paths with a succubus, a shape-shifter, a berserker, and a fallen angel who is pissed because God gave mankind dominion over the Earth. They also uncover the remains of a quaint French village which has been transported to the netherworld, fall into traps deadly enough to give Indiana Jones second thoughts, and battle a ghoul who dresses as if he is on his way to the masked ball from Eyes Wide Shut.
Yep, it's that kind of movie, folks.
I was expecting Bloody Mallory to be good, dumb fun, but it's not. Sure, it's dumb, but it's the fun part where the movie runs into trouble. In a way it reminded me of Underworld, another film about a leather-clad hot chick out to battle the undead. Both movies appear to have all the ingredients needed for a big stew of mindless entertainment, but both end up being a big pot of nothing. I have absolutely no problem watching a babe in tight clothes run around and get into fights, but I would rather see that sort of thing surrounded by a movie I can actually enjoy.
The budget for Bloody Mallory was obviously quite low, but I don't think that hampers the film. In fact, some of the makeup and creature effects (including one creation courtesy of Stan Winston's team) are nicely accomplished (I imagine this is where most of the budget went). The visual effects look more than a little cheap (the shots of the vistas in the netherworld contain some of the hoariest horizons this side of Damnation Alley), but I can live with that. No, the movie's major problem is its script, which too often wavers in tone. Bloody Mallory is nowhere near as dour as Underworld (thank God), but at times it does take itself a bit too seriously. Much of the movie is campy and more than a little absurd, but on occasion the tone shifts and things take a turn for the serious. There is a lot of nonsense about Mallory's greatest fear and her repeated refusals to tap into her true potential (something about her being afraid to employ the powers contained within her demon-tainted blood). There are some obvious digs at the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church (I just knew the transvestite would have a few things to say to the Pope), and then there's all that nonsense about mankind not being worthy enough to inhabit the Earth (I heard more than enough of that during At Dawn They Sleep). Although the campy bits outweigh the serious aspects, it is still an uncomfortable mix. Think about it -- does a movie in which the heroine prevents an ancient prophecy from coming to pass by eating the parchment on which said prophecy is written really need a climax in which the merits of letting go of the past and embracing your true self are discussed? I cannot speak for anyone else, but I don't think so. I wish the movie had gone for broke and ventured completely over the top, but, as it stands, it misses the mark.
As I mentioned earlier, Blood Mallory cost about a nickel to produce, and this is evident in the technical aspects of the disc. The anamorphic transfer does a respectable job of capturing the bright, hot, stylized look of the film, but a few of the darker shots are quite grainy and noisy. There is a healthy amount of surround action in the soundtrack (Tina telepathically talking through the minds of her various hosts sounds quite nice), but the lack of low end activity in the track is a bit of letdown; I was expecting a little more weight from a track featuring a few sword fights, more than a few exploding heads, and some gunplay. For those who don't care for the original French track, there is also an English dub option, but you really should avoid it; it is not as dynamic as the French track, the translation is a bit off, and the voice acting is just wrong (this is obvious from the opening narration, in which Mallory is made to sound like a valley girl; it manages to get even worse when Vena, who is made to sound like a sweet old lady, shows up). Extras include a selection of trailers for other Lions Gate releases (but not one for this movie), as well a making-of featurette. Running about 17 minutes in length, this featurette (which is presented in French with English subtitles) dwells primarily on the makeup and visual effects created for the movie, but it also delves into the casting and fight choreography. It's quite obvious the people behind Bloody Mallory had a grand old time working on the movie, which in turn makes this featurette quite enjoyable; in fact, it's a heck of a lot more enjoyable than the film it concerns.
I had high hopes (or should that be low hopes?) for this one. Alas.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* "The Making of Bloody Mallory" Featurette