Weird Westerns: BloodRayne 2: Deliverance (2007)
Director Ewe Boll follows up his critically pilloried Vampire movie "BloodRayne" with a critically ignored sequel, which, for some reason, has decided that Billy the Kid was actually Dracula.
by Max Sparber
Uwe Boll directed "BloodRayne 2: Deliverance," just as he did the original "BloodRayne," and Uwe Boll is widely considered to be the worst director currently working, so there is a temptation just to make fun of the movie.
I can't say I won't poke fun at the movie —it is pretty silly — but Boll is far from the worst director in history. He is, at worst, slapdash and pulpy, and I think hostility toward him is rooted in critical embarrassment about the sorts of film he makes (many based on video games, as " BloodRayne" is), a snobby irritation about the way he financed many of his movies (some apparently involving tax loopholes that made the films feel more like an investment dodge than a work of art), and the director's own pugilistic personality, which rubs people the wrong way.
There is certainly a degree of incompetence that comes with Boll's slapdashedness. Characters will wear modern watches, props will disappear and reappear without explanation, vampires will have sun tans — the sort of thing a careful filmmaker looks for and a careless one doesn't. There are also lapses of taste, of a sort. Boll effectively transferred the aesthetics of a video game to the screen, especially the visual aesthetics, such as the taste for tight black leather, and it turns out the look is generally tacky.
But the truth is that I rather like this sort of thing. A picture can die from too much good taste, and continuity errors and the like make for amusing quibbles, but rarely impact the film as a whole. The issue with Boll is not that he's fast and cheap, but that he isn't always interesting. I can forgive almost anything in art, but I can't forgive when it is tedious.
"BloodRayne 2: Deliverance" is what I have come to call a Back to the West Western, in that it is a sequel to a non-Westen than inexplicably moved the story to the West. In most cases, this involves traveling back in time, but since the first BloodRayne film was set in Romania in the 18th Century, this film actually moves forward in time a half-century or so.
The originally "BloodRayne" had an inexplicably terrific cast, including Michael Madsen, Will Sanderson, Billy Zane, Udo Kier, Meat Loaf, Michelle Rodriguez, and Sir Ben Kingsley. None of them make the jump to the new movie. Indeed, the original BloodRayne, Kristanna Loken, doesn't return, replaced by Natassia Malthe, who is game but undistinguished. The only actor to carry over from the earlier film is Michael Pare, playing a new character. Here he plays Pat Garrett.
That's right, this is a Billy the Kid film. In one of the harder-to-understand decisions of the film, this is essentially "Billy the Kid Meets Dracula," but the twist is that Billy the Kid is Dracula. He's played by Zack Ward, an actor best-known as having played the bully Scut Farkus in "A Christmas Story," and still bullying. He has an inexplicable Romanian accent, so we must presume that Billy the Kid was actually a Romanian vampire who was just pretending to be an Irish-American gunslinger. He's generally vampiric, preferring to kill by chewing on people than by shooting them, so, while he has cowboy-style sidearms, he generally doesn't use them,
He's hunted by the titular BloodRayne, a half-Vampire with sword on her back, the ability to travel by day, and a minimum of tolerance for male horsepucky, so, basically, the White feminism version of Blade.
Billy the Dracula takes over a small Western town, holding the town's children hostage and occasionally snacking on one, apparently waiting for the railroad to arrive so he can eat pioneers. BloodRayne stumbles on this and assembles a posse of vampire hunters, and then the remainder of the film is a climactic showdown, including a lone journalist trying to convince the townspeople to take up arms.
I appreciate this, because it mashes together so many Western tropes, including one that doesn't seem to get much play anymore: The town in crisis because a railroad is coming. This is the storyline behind both "Johnny Guitar" and "7 Faces of Dr. Lao," and was the real story behind the founding of Omaha, where I lived for a decade. Frankly, the only way you could make the early history of Omaha wilder is by adding in a Dracula, so it's something that Ewe Boll got right.
Alas, the film isn't quite hysterical or baffling enough to be genuinely memorable, and it's a pity, as the very first moment of the film has a man standing before a Western village and declaring, and I am paraphrasing slightly, "Here I am in the West!"
For a moment it seemed the film might make use of some of the creaky techniques of the stage melodrama, which was frequently set in the West, and I'd love to see adapted to screen. But no, it was just bad writing.