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Bloody Mallory
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Got room in your heart for one more vampire flick? Sure you do."
4 stars

"Bloody Mallory" can best be described as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" on acid.

Its eponymous heroine (Olivia Bonamy, who resembles a young Demi Moore), once married to a man who turned out to be a demon, dyes her hair a fiery red (like the heroine of Run Lola Run) and tools around in a pink hearse, with the words "FUCK EVIL" emblazoned on the knuckles of her gloves. Her Scooby Gang includes a tall, blue-wigged drag queen named Vena Cava (Jeffrey Ribier) and a mute telepath named Talking Tina (Thylda Barès), a little girl who can also transmit her mind into the bodies of people and animals. Her mission is to save the newly selected Pope (Laurent Spielvogel) from hordes of demons led by the ab-fab vampire bitch Lady Valentine (Valentina Vargas).

I don't need to tell you this is a French movie, do I?

It never quite rises above the level of a well-done pilot episode for a series that would probably be cancelled after four weeks (for being too weird), but I enjoyed Bloody Mallory all the same. The few reviews I've found have been rather hostile and uncomprehending, as if director Julien Magnat and his co-writer Stéphane Kazandjian hadn't intended to make a cheerfully schlocky horror farce. For me, Bloody Mallory goes on a special shelf alongside Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter and Frankenhooker, two other movies that revel in the horror genre and in their own self-conscious cheesiness. Released in France in the summer of 2002, it was quietly issued onto Region 1 DVD in America three years later; I'd think any fan of loopy horror who doesn't mind subtitles would slurp it up as avidly as Lady Valentine drains one of her victims.

Mallory, who still has some of her demon hubby's blood in her veins and is often visited by him (Julien Boisselier plays him with a mix of insouciance and smitten affection that reminded me of Jean-Claude, the vamp lover of Laurell K. Hamilton's vamp-killer Anita Blake), grudgingly accepts her mission to rescue the Pope. (He's a dick anyway -- his first words upon ascending to the papacy are to condemn gay people as evil.) The mission is personal for Mallory anyway, since the same demons who absconded with the Pope also killed her former comrade Inspector Durand (Thierry Perkins-Lyautey) and put Talking Tina in a coma (from which she escapes by occupying various bodies throughout the film -- most amusingly when she inhabits a big, brainless bruiser les scoobées meet in a village overrun by demonic power). Along for the ride is a young priest, prankishly named Father Carras (Adriá Collado), who gets on Mallory's nerves but does get to use his self-defense papal-bodyguard training on occasion (like the famous priest in Peter Jackson's Dead Alive, he kicks arse for the Lord).

Bloody Mallory looks cheap (especially some of the demon make-up, which is sub-Buffy) yet ravishing -- Magnat puts together a colorful piece of eye candy, wedded to a propulsive techno beat by Kenji Kawai (who scored Ghost in the Shell and Ringu). The fight sequences are about on par with Buffy, sometimes pushed over the top by absurdist touches (such as Vena Cava's deadly boots or the head-exploding spray Mallory keeps in a cross on her belt -- you wonder why she doesn't use it more often, though). The narrative's big surprise is really no surprise to anyone who's seen a movie before, and the climax lacks a certain oomph (it's as if the filmmakers ran out of money).

Still, Bloody Mallory is worth seeing just for Olivia Bonamy, a fun addition to the growing roster of ass-kicking heroines, whose defining moment comes early, when she kisses the near-dead Durand and her voice-over informs us, "I never cared for him much, but how can I deny a man's final wish?"

Both cynical and sentimental -- she still wears her demon husband's ring -- Mallory may have been too much for the French and not enough for American viewers trained by Buffy, Xena, and "Alias". But she demands to be taken on her own terms or not at all, and so does the goofy, consistently amusing movie she's in.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14679&reviewer=416
originally posted: 05/24/06 23:15:44
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  13-Sep-2005 (R)
  DVD: 13-Sep-2005



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