French-Canadian lesbian vampires are the subject of "Eternal," a thriller that puts that ever-present undercurrent of the vampire flick, edgy eroticism, up front.
By DAVID N. BUTTERWORTH
Here's something they don't always tell you in the travel guides: the bustling, affluent metropolis of Montreal is awash with blood-sucking lesbians!
And by "blood-sucking" I don't mean financially draining. I'm talking the real McCoy here: blood suckers as in vampires. Lesbian vampires. And Canadian lesbian vampires to boot!
|Written and directed by: Wilhelm Liebenberg, Federico Sanchez.|
Cast: Caroline NŽron, Victoria Sanchez, Conrad Pla, Nick Baillie, Liane Balaban.
Cinematography: Jamie Thompson.
Edited by: Isabelle LŽvesque, Denis Papillon.
Related links: Official site | All of David N. Butterworth's reviews at Rotten Tomatoes
Eternal is Canadian filmmakers Wilhelm Liebenberg and Federico Sanchez's modern-day take on the Countess Elizabeth Bathory legend. As the original story goes, ErzsŽbet B‡thory (1560-1614) was a Hungarian countess a mentally unstable bisexual Hungarian countess, to be more accurate who liked to bathe in the blood of some 650 virgins she had previously tortured and mutilated, believing such a practice to be the conduit to eternal youth. The juicy Bathory tale has been the basis for many a lusty horror fest over the years I for one remember Hammer's "Countess Dracula" from 1971 with Ingrid Pitt as the well-endowed bloodsucker.
In "Eternal," the mysterious Elizabeth "ErzsŽbet" Kane (Caroline NŽron) might just be the immortal countess in question. She owns a painting of Bathory for one thing and often asks her evil henchwoman-in-training Irina (Veronica Sanchez) to prepare her bath.
From her palatial QuŽbec mansion guarded by imposing iron gates and a rotten rottweiler, ErzsŽbet rules on high, welcoming in the sexually curious and emotionally confused. One such victim is Wildcat (Sarah Manninen), who draws up in her sleek Citro‘n Pallas as the film opens and is quickly and easily charmed by ErzsŽbet's duplicitous hospitality, with red wine the potable of choice.|
"I've never done this before," Wildcat informs ErzsŽbet nervously. She means "I've never had sex with a woman before" but what she might as well have said is "I've never had my throat slashed and blood drunk by a woman before," a prospect that ErzsŽbet kindly obliges.
Wildcat's philandering husband, detective Ray Pope (Conrad Pla), shows up to investigate his wife's sudden disappearance and is himself instantly seduced by the wicked beauty. The film eventually takes us to Venice, where Pope attends a titillating costume ball like the one in Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut," only this one seems more conducive to the plot (and the costumes are a lot better!).
Liebenberg and Sanchez's film benefits from lavish production values sumptuous interiors and elegant exteriors are de rigueur and solid performances by NŽron and Pla, who treat the otherwise hard-to-swallow screenplay simply as an extension of the latter-day detective thriller. Both actors are commanding screen presences, fine-featured individuals with grace and grit. NŽron exudes the same raw sexuality as Theresa Russell or Kathleen Turner in their heyday with a little Gallic intervention, and former kickboxer Pla has the look and cannibalistic tendencies of a Canadian Roland Gift.
There's also a sympathetic turn by Liane Balaban as Pope's babysitter cum auto mechanic.
Canadian horror films are few and far between, and Canadian vampire pictures an even rarer breed, so take the opportunity (if you can) to enjoy "Eternal," an erotic thriller that favors eroticism over thrills. It's sexy and seductive and it'll get deep beneath your skin.
|AUGUST 30, 2005|
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