Take a close look at the DVD case. Look familiar? Well, it should, because Sony Home Entertainment is hoping you'll mistake the hilariously inept Blood of Beasts for something akin to the Lord of the Rings movies -- instead of the Halloween-costumed lunatic combination of Beauty and the Beast and The 13th Warrior that it so painfully is.
Jane March stars as Freya, princess to a Viking clan of about 12 people. Freya is coveted by burly bo-hunk Sven, but she simply isn't having any of his "betrothal" talk. But when King Thorsson decides that he must take rid a nearby island of a terrible beast, Freya makes ol' Svennie a promise: Bring the king back home safely, and she'll "make him a good wife." (I assume she meant out of wicker.)
So off go King Thorsson and Sven to destroy this rampaging beast, and along for the chintzy crusade are Olaf, Erik, Ragnar, Jart, Kogla, and Heindall. Because these vikings are very, very stupid, most of them get killed by the beast -- yet Sven and Erik are able to escape. The sickly old king, for his part, ends up in the beast's makeshift prison.
So Sven (the bastard) and Erik (the good guy) make it back home to their hovel and announce that, sorry, everyone else is dead but whoever's still alive is invited to mine and Freya's wedding. Angst-y beyond all compare, Freya decides to trek out to the island to see what's up: A freaky beast and a king in a cage. So I assume you can all fill in the remaining blanks by now...
Beast lets the king go IF Freya agrees to stay with him. She says OK. Back at the hovel, Sven's all sorts of angry and plans another attack on the beast (because the first one went so well), but Erik's been mouthing off and telling everyone that Sven's really a big coward, etc., etc.
This is a terrible movie. Seriously. You could pick any single aspect of filmmaking (like, out of a hat) and you'll find that in Blood of Beasts, it's horribly lacking. The screenplay is an oozing and ungainly combination of generic platitudes, predictable blather, and outright howlers. No lie, Blood of Beasts made me laugh more often than most comedies do.
The set design, the costumes, the confused-looking background vikings, the special effects, the action sequences, the while damn thing, well, it looks like it was shot in someone's backyard over the course of three uneventful weekends. Oh, and the beast. Dear lord, it's a big bulky guy wearing jittery rubber claws and hairy rubber feet, with a lot of red make-up on his face and a grungy old bear-skin rug draped across his head and back. I totally know what I'm being for Halloween this year.
And the acting. Holy macaroni, Strasberg, you just cannot believe how ripe these performances are. Literally everyone onscreen looks as if they're reading their bloated banter off of huge, phonetically-spelled cue cards. Leading lady Jane March, in all her expressionless and botoxed wonder, delivers a performance for the ages. Her robotic line deliveries trickle out of her frozen lips with the grace and character of a discarded mannequin. (Not to be cruel, but Ms. March has never been known as, well, a good actress. For further supporting evidence, feel free to grit your teeth for a marathon consisting of Color of Night, Tarzan and the Lost City, and Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula.)
Originally titled Beauty and the Beast and left to ripen in a vault somewhere for two years, Blood of Beasts is as stupid a "Viking Beauty and the Bear-Rug Beast" concept as you could ever imagine. It's the sort of flick that the lovable old MST3K boys would have dismissed as "way too easy."
Video: It's a Fullscreen presentation, and ... it ain't all that pretty. Much of the unpleasantness stems from the resoundingly low-budget trappings, but the transfer itself is fairly fuzzy, grainy, and beast-y.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, with optional subtitles in English and French. The subtitles will come in handy when you're inspired to transcribe the brilliantly awful dialogue into your snarky little movie blog.
Audio: Extras: Just a bunch of trailers for Blood of Beasts, Augustus, Nero, and Stephen King Presents Kingdom Hospital.
Bad, bad, bad. Indeed, Blood of Beasts does manage to transcend that invisible wall of "so bad it's good." But don't mistake that opinion for a hearty recommendation. Should the flick pop up on cable one boring night, give it about 15 minutes and I bet it makes you chuckle like a pothead.