Wednesday, November 25, 2009

'Decadent Evil' is neither decadent nor evil enough to be interesting

Decadent Evil (2005)
Starring: Debra Mayer, Phil Fondacaro, Daniel Lennox, Jill Michelle and Raelyn Hennessee
Director: Charles Band
Producer: Charles Band
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

A master vampire (Mayer) on the verge of becoming a demi-god finds her life complicated by a defiant fledgelings (Hennessee and Michelle), a love-struck mortal (Lennox) and a midget vampire hunter (Fondacaro).

That summary makes "Decadent Evil" sound like it might be a lot of fun if you're into Charles Band-style movies. Don't be misled... this is a film you can safely skip.

It seems to me that the quality of Charles Band's films reached a lowpoint in the first part of this decade. While recent films have been better, "Decadent Evil" is a craptacular film that isn't even a pale shadow of Band's earlier directorial efforts... it's shocking to think that this film is even from the same guy who brought us "The Creeps" and "Blood Dolls", let alone "Head of the Family" or "Hideous!".

That's not to say there aren't some halfway decent ideas here, it's just that they're badly implemented.

Everything about the script says half-baked. From a lame attempt to tie the film to previous Full Moon vampire films with an overlong prologue, through a a wavering sense as to the vampire queen being ancient or not, and to a fuzzy sense of how much time passes between various scenes in the film, it's clear that either the script needed more work or the production had issues. This sense is strengthened by the fact that this film feels heavily padded--with the aforementioned prologue and a drawn-out strip club scene/seduction scene that ends up having very little to do with anything that follows adding 10-15 minutes of pointless running time--despite barely being over an hour long.

And then there is the neigh-obligatory Charles Band puppet creature/toy tie-in, here embodied by Marvin the Horny Homunculus. I think Marvin was supposed to be the source of comic relief in the film, but the jokes are unfunny and the puppet is so badly made that it's almost sad that it was even included. Marvin is a superfluous element in the film and since there clearly wasn't enough in the budget to make him properly animated it would have been better to simply leave him out. As it stands, Marvin serves primarily to make the experienced Charles Band viewer remark, "Well... I guess the puppets in 'Blood Dolls' weren't so bad after all." (The one positive thing about Marvin is the eyes... the sculptor did a great job on the eyes, and they help bring a little life to the creature but nowhere near enough.)

The film is saved from a 2-rating, however, by a cast of talented actors who do their best with the material they're given. Debra Mayer is a little miscast as the haughty, bitchy vampire queen (she does bitchy quite well, as we saw in the Band's far superior effort "Blood Dolls", but haughty not so much) and Phil Fondacaro wasn't particularly believable as a vampire hunter, but they weren't bad. The rest of the cast of small-time, young newcomers accounted nicely for themselves, although they really didn't have much to do; this film is virtually free of anything resembling character development.