Judge Mitchell Hattaway suspects that this movie turned Anne Rice off to vampires and toward Jesus.
Paris, the night, the evil that burns from within…
I bet you saw "Paris" and "burns from within" and assumed this movie would be about that Hilton chick, huh? Well, thankfully, it's not.
Facts of the Case
Here is all you really need to know about Love Bites:
• In what is easily the best scene in the movie, Asia Argento gets bare-assed naked and conjures up two bare-assed naked doppelgangers of herself.
• A fantastic Peter Gabriel song plays over the end credits.
• The rest of the movie blows.
That's the short of it, and here is the long, beginning with a brief summary of the plot:
A young hustler named Antoine (Guillaume Canet) is hired by a mysterious Swiss millionaire named Abraham van Bulow (Jean-Marie Winling) to track down the club-hopping Charlier siblings. Despite several warnings to mind his own business, Antoine, who desperately needs the cash, perseveres in his quest. He eventually tracks down Violaine Charlier (Asia Argento, Land of the Dead), and immediately falls under her spell. Following what is undoubtedly the most exciting (not to mention bizarre) sexual experience of his life, Antoine is rebuffed by Violaine, but he refuses to leave her be until she leads him to her brother Jordan (Orazio Massaro), who may or may not be a vampire with a penchant for biting the necks of saxophonists.
Love Bites is an aimless movie about an aimless man. Antoine hustles people out of money, uses his best friend's connections to get into parties and clubs, and sleeps beside a pool in a health club (his wife got their flat in the divorce). He has no purpose in life until he finds Violaine Charlier, and after that his only purpose in life is to find her again (not that I can blame him, especially given what she can do in the sack). Problem is, his quest to find (and then re-find) Violaine is tedious and repetitive. Antoine simply wanders from club to club, bar to bar, and party to party in hopes of finding his quarry; I would venture at least three-fourths of this movie is nothing more than footage of Antoine wandering around the streets, ducking into bars, and asking strangers if they have seen Violaine and her brother.
There are detours along the way, of course. Antoine delivers a stuffed squirrel to the owner of an S&M club and almost gets his ass kicked. Antoine ticks off a bouncer, gets roughed up, and later has his revenge by setting the bouncer's car on fire. Antoine is abducted by a group of thugs who plan to sexually assault him until they realize no one brought any condoms (they're forced to settle for simply beating him to a pulp and pissing on him). Unfortunately, the scenes in which Antoine isn't shown ambling around are just as pointless as the scenes in which he is shown ambling around (with the exception of the aforementioned scene in which Violaine replicates herself and has a foursome with Antoine, but that goes without saying).
Up until the last couple of minutes, the movie is coy about Violaine and Jordan's true nature. At times we're supposed believe they actually are vampires, but we're also led to believe that perhaps they are just a couple of screwed up kids playacting at being vampires. Thing is, if you're paying attention, it's obvious they really are vampires. You know any hot, non-supernatural French chicks who can replicate themselves before having sex? (If you do, let me know.) Sure, Violaine slips something into Antoine's drink before they get it on, so I guess we are supposed to wonder if he's hallucinating, but it's clear Antoine blacks out before things get interesting (and the fact that he doesn't run screaming through the streets of Paris telling everyone he was pleasured by the Argento triplets is a dead giveaway he has no idea what went on). And a character named Abraham van Bulow? I'm sorry, you give a character that name and put him in a vampire flick (or even a pseudo-vampire flick), there's no doubt who he really is or what he is up to. Oh, about the last couple of minutes of the film…well, let's just say I never knew vampires had such a love for televised tennis matches and leave it at that. (This last scene also negates everything we've learned about Jordan up until that point. Maybe it's just me, but would a guy who never comes out until night really go to a Wimbledon match, sit there in broad daylight and wait for the camera to get a close-up of him so he can scare the living hell out of the sister who believed him to be dead? I can understand the filmmakers' desire to have a kicker at the end, but come on.)
Shriek Show has performed an excellent job on the transfer (even if they did mislabel it as 1.85:1 on the packaging). Color saturation (for what little color there actually is) is excellent, grain never becomes an issue, blacks are deep, and shadow detail in outstanding (good thing given how dark most of the film is). The 5.1 audio track is not quite as impressive; except for a scene during a rainstorm and a scene during a rave, there is very little in the way of surround or sub action. Given what could have been done with the track, I'd rate this as somewhat of a missed opportunity. Extras include a couple of trailers for Love Bites, as well as previews for four other Media Blasters releases. (In case you were wondering, Media Blasters is the parent company of Shriek Show.) The last bonus item is A's Enigma, a short documentary about the making of Scarlet Diva, Asia Argento's directorial debut. This documentary manages to be both pretentious and inept, and I am not even sure why it's included here. It has absolutely nothing to do with Love Bites, and Media Blasters has released Scarlet Diva on DVD, so you'd think it would have been more at home on that disc. (One of the previews included on Love Bites is for Scarlet Diva; the film looks to be a self-indulgent mess, but I nevertheless need to get my hands on it.)
No movie in which Asia Argento gets bare-assed naked and conjures up two bare-ass naked doppelgangers of herself can be all bad, but damn if this one doesn't come close.
It almost hurts me to say it, but it's definitely guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Media Blasters
• A's Enigma Documentary
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