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Case Number 19606: Small Claims Court

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MTI // 2007 // 105 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Maurice Cobbs (Retired) // September 3rd, 2010

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All Rise...

Judge Maurice Cobbs advises you to never go necking with a vampire.

The Charge

What lurks on the other side of mortality?

The Case

So I'm sitting there with the wife watching this screwy vampire movie Metamorphosis, and I'm thinking to myself, do vampires really even matter anymore? They don't, do they? I mean, don't get me wrong, they've had a pretty good run, but vampires have lost all the primal terror and exotic mystique that they oozed when old Varney first burst onto the pop culture scene over hundred and fifty years or so ago. They used to be dark and mysterious undead predators, parasitic creatures of darkness and evil with a sinister, manipulative sexuality. They used to be scary. Now they're really quite harmless; they drink fake blood and really deep down inside just want a stable relationship with a plucky and resourceful Hip Modern Woman who Understands them (preferably while wearing a leather bustier and Doc Martens). They're little more than the literary equivalent of Fabio, fantasy objects for girls in black lipstick who listen to depressing music that sounds like somebody accidentally left some change in the dryer. These days, they sparkle in the sun. Are you telling me that the vampire in popular culture has become so mainstream, so impotent, so sexually non-threatening that the most popular one out there right now looks like a Lisa Frank Ultimate Fun Kit exploded on him? Honestly. It's regod-damneddiculous.

But nowhere in the modern world has the vampire suffered quite so much as in film. They just don't make good vampire movies anymore. Not like they used to. Not since it was all full moons and bats on wires and spooky fog and that thing Bela Lugosi used to do with his hand. And run-down castles and crucifixes, too, and lurid, bright red blood and Ingrid Pitt running around with a mouthful of fangs and her boobs half-out of a low-cut scoop-neck peasant blouse. I mean, sure, every once in a while somebody will buck the trend with something awesome like Let the Right One In, but let's be honest here…in the past fifteen years alone they must've made about six hundred billion vampire movies—mostly direct-to-video—and about 599,999,999,993 of 'em stunk on ice.

Well, let me introduce you to number six hundred billion and one, Metamorphosis, which looks and feels like somebody's film-school graduation project (C minus, see me after class, please). Though there's a couple of pretty good ideas at the core of the movie, a high-brow musing on the nature of the afterlife and immortality, the execution of the idea is just awful, and director Jeno Hodi never misses a chance to undercut the possibility of making this a half-way decent film. I suppose that expecting anything but questionable direction from the guy who brought us such classic cinematic gems as American Kickboxer 2 and Black Sea Raid would be optimism bordering on the delusional. But you know, I remember one of the director's previous efforts with fondness—ever hear of a low-rent bit of B-movie trash hysteria called Guns and Lipstick, starring Sally Kirkland? Tag line is, 'Payback is a bitch…and her name is Danielle Roberts, P.I.'? Well, check it out if you ever get the chance.

Metamorphosis, however, you might want to avoid like leptospirosis. It's not good enough to be rewarding, and it's not bad enough to be entertaining…not even the disc itself is particularly remarkable, as the video is adequate at best and the sound clear, but lifeless. From the 'Making Of' featurette included on the disc, I gather that the intent was to make a fresh, original fairy tale that was also a deconstruction of vampire films. What they actually made was a mess. It just makes you shake your head every five minutes in dismay, and in the end, the only thing you're left with is a stack of missed chances and lost opportunities. The film starts as an angry mob of 12 people wielding torches and led by a guy with a dust mop on his head storm the castle of Elizabeth Bathory, kidnap her daughter, and lock the Bloody Countess in the tower. Then we shift to the modern day, where Constantine Thurzo (Christopher Lambert, Mortal Kombat) has a dramatic introduction into the story that promises much. Sadly, he is absent from the film after his first brief scenes, and his return to the story, as a villainous vampire, just doesn't deliver…especially when forced to mumble lame dialogue in his trademark cockamamie accent, such as, "Blood is so much tastier when it's warm." There's a smokin' hot female lead in the form of Irena Hoffman (recently seen in the equally dismal Transylmania), who plays Elizabeth, the ethereal mystery woman at the center of the action. She appears out of nowhere, dressed in a diaphanous white outfit that makes her look like she took a wrong turn on her way to the Enya concert. Alas she, too, is undone by the dialogue; is there any possible way to deliver a line like, "Sorry—I hate evil people" without looking like a complete retard?

Elizabeth falls in with a trio of American students traveling through Hungary, and it's not long before she's bumping uglies with boy-band reject Keith (Corey Sevier of Decoys, whose on-screen personality and acting ability promise a long career in Syfy Original Movies). Keith has a bit of an obsession with Countess Bathory; regarded by history as a sadistic murderess, Keith believes the Countess was abused and misunderstood, and plans to do something scholarly on her behalf. I have no idea what Keith's friends J.J. (Charlie Hollway, Burlesque Fairytales) and Kim (the too-cute Jennifer Higham, from Ella Enchanted) are doing, other than being extremely annoying 'comic relief' and serving as convenient plot devices or fang fodder when needed. In point of fact, it's worth mentioning that the Hungarian supporting cast comes off much better than any of the principals. At one point, the vampiric Lambert howls with frustration: "That just pisses me off!" Is he talking about the ridiculous script? The amateurish special effects? Or had he noticed that they'd misspelled his name on the DVD cover? By the time Elizabeth challenges Thurzo to Mortal Kombat, who even cares anymore?

Metamorphosis was made in 2007, but has only just managed to find it's way to the United States…the strongest proof yet that we really need to secure our borders. Oh well. At least the vampires don't sparkle in the sun. So it's got that going for it. And you know, even if you don't feel like staying around for the wanna-be Twilight Zone ending, you should at least stick around for the mind-boggling Hungarian hip-hop that plays over the final scene. 'Cause that's what I'm talkin' 'bout. But only if what I'm talkin' 'bout happens to be "Things That Are Unbelievably Awful." If that's not enough of an enticement to get you to sit through to the end, don't worry…they've thoughtfully included the music video as a special feature for your viewing pleasure.

The Verdict

Guilty. Feed them to the Sharkticons.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 65

Perp Profile

Studio: MTI
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Spanish
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Foreign
• Horror
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurette
• Music Video


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• Official Site

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