Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Netflix Roulette: Bloody Mallory

The title character of Bloody Mallory (2002, directed by Julian Magnat) is a gothy anime-ish asskicking supernatural superhero whose team takes on demons and monsters. Assisting her are a statuesque transsexual named Vena Cava and a telepathic girl genius named Talking Tina. The team drives around in a hot pink hearse and dress like a cadre of cosplayers. The whole thing plays like a kids movie gone 'round the bend, or more probably like a post-modern update of a silent serial, though Mallory ain't got nothing on Irma Vep. Or Buffy, for that matter. From the description of our heroes, you can probably surmise that this is one of those "supposed to be campy" films. It's French, too, so it's shot through with a fair amount of Gallic theater of the absurd.

The story here finds the forces of the arch-demon Abaddon kidnapping the Pope during a visit to France. The secret service enlists Mallory and her team to find the missing pontiff, and our heroines follow the trail into hell. Hell provides them with a Legion of demonic minions barring their way. Mallory, for her part, is still haunted by her brief marriage to a man who turned out to be a demon. She chopped him up on her wedding night, but retains some measure of supernatural power from the co-mingling of their blood. Once Mallory's team finds the Pope, he turns out to be kind of disagreeable. He certainly resents being rescued by a group of degenerates. Abaddon's grand scheme is to destroy all of creation and return the fallen angels to mastery of the world. Our heroes must stop them.

I think the roulette wheel must love synchronicity. This is the second movie in a row it's provided me in which Valentina Vargas plays a demoness. She plays the vampire consort of Abaddon. This is also a pretty queer movie, given both the character of Vena Cava and the way it confronts the homophobia of the Catholic church head-on. Sure, the Pope in this movie is actually a demon, but the rhetoric is the same. I dig movies that take potshots at the church, even if this one equivocates with its warrior priest character.

This is a film that wears everything on its surface. Subtlety? Subtext? That's for other films. The central aim of this movie is watching a cute girl dress in leather and kick some demonic ass. In this, it's aided by the very appealing Olivia Bonamy in the title role. She's such a ridiculous character that it makes the drag persona of Jeffrey Ribier's Vena Cava seem not quite so outlandish, and, frankly, who DOESN'T want a pair of sky-high platforms with machine guns built into them? Seriously? I would wear those in a heartbeat. One wishes that the action scenes and special effects were worthy of the characters, but they're not and the movie suffers for it. This has a low budget, after all, and even making allowances for that, the movie isn't very successful in getting its ideas on screen. Still, I love the idea that heterosexism and cis-sexism are depicted as unequivocally evil, and I love that the movie ties this particular albatross around the neck of the church, where it SHOULD be tied. In that regard, I'm an ideal audience for this movie.

Like I say, this plays like a kids' movie, which in some ways is its undoing. On the one hand, there's an undeniable energy involved, but on the other, it has a tendency to shock the audience out of the movie with its sheer absurdity. Nor does the kid-vid element sit well with the more adult elements of the movie. It's a movie for arrested adolescents, and if you're not part of that demographic, I imagine that it would be a chore to sit through it. It certainly tried my patience.


Andrew said...

You know, I do believe you've got me sold on this one....
And it's on Netflix???

I'll queue it right now.

Caroline said...

I thought my girlfriend and I were the only ones who do the Netflix Roulette! This is why Netflix is so perfect: so many wonderful movies to watch, and so many very, very strange ones that you might otherwise never have heard of. Bloody Mallory sounds like a fun ride.

Vulnavia Morbius said...

...and so many very bad movies, too. Though there's a certain amount of charm in some really bad movies.