Vampirella chases an evil vampire to earth to avenge her stepfather's death on the planet Drakulon.
Directors: Jim Wynorski
Producers: Roger Corman, Jim Wynorski, Paul Hertzberg and Angela Baynes
Writers: Glen Gerani
Features: Feature-Length Audio Commentary By Jim Wynorski, Original Restored Version(Director's Cut), Digitally Remastered, Original Trailer, Cast Biographies, Scene Index, Preview Attractions And Widescreen
Adam Van Helsing...Richard Joseph Hall
Lt. Walsh...Lee de Broux
With all the money being funnelled into the superhero movies, thanks to the success of 1998's "Blade," starring Wesley Snipes as a superhuman vampire hunter, today's audiences have come to expect decent acting and great special effects. Unfortunately, "Vampirella," a movie about a vampire-like heroine, was made a few years too early. This movie, written by Gary Gerani, was made in 1996 and went straight to video. Now out on DVD, in a director's cut with audio commentary by the director, Jim Wynorski, the lack of a big budget is very apparent.
The "Vampirella" DVD begins 3,000 years ago on the planet Drakulon where an evil vampire named Vlad, played by Roger Daltry("Tommy") is being tried in a cheap looking court, for feeding on his own race of vampires to prolong his youth. There are rivers of blood on Drakulon that will sustain a normal existence, but Vlad had discovered that blood from a living organism would keep him from aging. Suddenly, the court is attacked by Vlad's cronies, two men and a woman carrying weapons who kill everybody. The villians run off to a spaceship, just as Ella, played by Talisa Soto("Mortal Kombat"), comes around a corner and runs to the head judge, who as it turns out is her stepfather. She vows vengeange and sets out after the bad guys, but not before receiving micro-sized blood vials from her stepmother. These vials contain blood from the planet's rivers to sustain her.
Using a suspended animation tank in her spaceship, Vampirella runs into space storms that ground her ship on Mars for almost 3,000 years. An earth spaceship brings her to earth where she escapes after robbing the two astronauts(one played by John Landis, the director of "Animal House") of their memories. She soon meets a computer nerd who helps her track down one of the vampires, Traxx, who having split from the other three is now a professor at an university. After dispatching him she sees a poster of a rock idol named Jamie Blood, who looks exactly like Vlad. Through the centuries Vlad had started the Dracula legends by taking blood to sustain his youth, but was now hiding out as a rock star. Vampirella is not the only one searching for Vlad; there is a government organization called PURGE that an Adam Van Helsing, played by Richard Joseph Hall, is a member of. He is a direct descendant of the Van Helsings that had plagued Vlad when he was called Dracula. At first, PURGE thinks Vampirella is in league with Vlad, but eventually they form an uneasy alliance. Together they try to stop Vlad's plan of having orbiting satellites plunge the earth into darkness so vampires can hunt at will.
This movie is the director's cut as opposed to the copy on tape. The outer cover of the DVD never mentions this, only that it is the restored version. It is only in the audio commentary by the director, Jim Wynorski, that it comes out. He mentions that one of the changes is that Roger Daltry's rendition of "Bleed For Me, is now full length. It had been shortened in the original, but Wynorski screws up and says that Daltry wrote the song when the credits show a Gerard McMahon did. Also, there is a scene in the DVD which shows Forest Ackerman(the publisher of the original "Vampirella" comic and other horror magazines from the 60's), as part of Daltry's audience that was not in the original. Wynorski also explains that Roger Daltry took the role because one of his bandmates in the rock group, The Who; the deceased Keith Moon, was a "Vampirella" comic book fan. Later in the commentary, Wynorski tells how he had to have Daltry stand on an apple crate to equal Talisa Soto's height(she was originally a model) as they confronted each other in a dungeon. However, earlier in the film when Daltry and Soto first meet on a cliff, Wynorski allows Daltry to walk by her side, plainly showing the height difference. Wynorski admits the film had problems due to its' budget, but that he is still proud at what he had acheived. I think Wynorski was careless and that, in addition to the budget, hurt the movie.
There were other problems. He employed some actors from Las Vegas, where the film was shot, that gave wooden performances. The costume for Vampirella has too many safety straps because the actress was worried about falling out of the original costume. I think she could have used the original comic book costume in the Drakulon scenes and maybe as she piloted her spacecraft. Later Vampirella could have switched to the other and called it her battle suit. Special effects were very similar to the movies of the 30's and 40's--when the actors change to bats. It is almost like someone had hand drawn the bat image on the frames. A hologram image of a satellite suffers the same fate. Wynorski claims he did not know what it would turn out like until after the print returned from the special effects company.
On the positive side, it is not the worst movie ever made. The audio commentary is usefull for aspiring film students to learn cost cutting methods when your budget is not all it could be. There is a topless scene by Corrine Harney, a former Playmate now living in Las Vegas.
If this movie had been made today, I'm sure the outcome and budget would have been different. At the end of credits of the "Vampirella" movie, there is an admonishment that Vampirella will return in "Death's Dark Avenger." Anything is possible in Hollywood.
I would give this DVD one star out of five.