Monday, September 22, 2003


There are few things more egregiously indefensible than a boring action movie. I watched the new vampire vs. werewolf, goth-wanker flick Underworld in a fairly packed, Westwood Theatre on a Friday night and if you can't compel a room full of college students to get excited over your monster/bullet fest, you got problems. Somehow, Underworld takes a perfectly good premise - a 600 year vampire vs. werewolf blood war - and manages to turn it into a sloggy bore, complete with long, profoundly dull conversations about Immortal genealogy, biochemistry and vampiric political succession.

Did these people not watch the Blade movies? If you're going to have vampires busting out in black leather and automatic pistols (which apparently have 50 bullet clips - someone alert John Woo), they better be pumping out more lead per minute than an illegal paint factory. Instead Underworld spends more time driving around ambigious European cities (where most people seem to speak perfect vernacular American English) in fancy roadsters but not quite enough time shooting and slicing shit. The preview for Kill Bill had more thrills and that was about 60 seconds.

The long redeeming quality - and I loathe to call it that - with the film is that it sets up the premise of the werewolf/vampire tension over the fear of interracial - or, better said, interspecial - mixing, with the vampires taking a decidedly white, ruling class paranoia to the threat of miscegenating with the post-colonial werewolves (I'm serious - in the film, it's revelaed that werewolves were once slaves of the vampires, how's that for allegory?). And in the end, what might ultimately save the day is a vampire/werewolf hybrid that - in true hapa-love fashion - takes on the best of both cultures. If the movie weren't so otherwise god awful, I might have actually enjoyed this racial subtext but I was too busy being trying to figure out the Byzantine explanation of how vampiric/lycanthropic immortality is somehow descended from a Hungarian virus from the 5th century.

And by the way, I know vampires are more Goth than '80s Depeche Mode fans but I swear to god it'd be nice to see a movie that found a new angle to tackle than stony, vaguely early 20th century cities that seem to never stop being overcast and rainy. I know vampires fear the sun, but that doens't mean they wouldn't enjoy cloudness nights where they can walk under the moonlight along the Seine. I mean, don't they ruin all that black leather by getting it wet? Or maybe vampires spend the daytime, indoors, waterproofing.