Thursday, 15 January 2009

Blade: House of Chthon


Directed by: Peter O’Fallon
Written by: David S. Goyer
Starring: Kirk ‘Sticky Fingaz’ Jones, Jill Wagner, Jessica Gower & Nelson Lee

Blade and Blade 2 are still two of the finest Marvel comic books to movie adaptations. Fusing horror, blistering action and the distinctive style of directors Stephen Norrington and Guillermo del Toro, they made comic book movies adult and didn’t hold back on violence and gore. Both instalments were penned by David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, The Unborn and, yes, Kickboxer 2) and much of the success of the films is down to his writing. Unfortunately, he couldn’t quite make it a hat trick with the third instalment, Blade Trinity, which he also directed. It started off well but after introducing too many new characters, killing of one of the best: again (Whistler) and finally descending into campness, Blade Trinity didn’t live up to expectations. So when star Wesley Snipes jumped ship the progression of the Blade franchise morphed into a short lived TV series. House of Chthon was the pilot episode and it’s certainly entertaining and well made for a TV movie but it unfortunately doesn’t continue the greatness of the first two films and comes across more as a Buffy/Angel spin off that a continuation of the Blade universe.

Written once again by Goyer, House of Chthon spends a little too much time rehashing who Blade is, why he does what he does and setting him up with a new helper/weapons manufacturer. This is all good and well for those first discovering Blade through the TV series but us movie fans have to sift through what we all ready know. This time Blade is up against some ancient house of vampires who are slowly gaining control of the city. This is the first big mistake: the bad guys just aren’t that threatening and fall into the slightly camp, new wave, pseudo Goth approach to vampires: all swanning around in frilly dresses, velvet suits and various forms of silly leather. They don’t come across as threatening, don’t seem like a formidable enemy for Blade and, as mentioned, feel like they have walked in off an episode of Angel. Not good. In the original Blade, Stephen Dorff was surprisingly good as the bad guy dressed in nothing but a suit, wielding a sword and surrounded by scuzzy goons. Likewise, Blade 2 had the awesome Novak (played by Luke Goss) a down and dirty vampire who actually looked like he could kick Blade’s ass. Trinity did have Parker Posey and wrestling's HHH who made for good bad guys until they were squandered away on some camp, pseudo Goth Dracula. Unfortunately, House of Chthon doesn’t quite have the bite or grit of the first two Blades and if it weren’t for the Blade character actually appearing would feel just like any other fantasy/horror TV show.

However, House of Chthon isn’t a complete waste of time. The main cast are pretty decent and Jones does a commendable job of filling Snipes’ boots (though can’t quite get his menacing growl down). For a TV movie it is also satisfyingly packed with gore and decent action. The gore is surprisingly bloody for a TV movie and there are plenty of fights and scraps featuring Blade hacking and slashing vampires. The action is refreshingly acrobatic but a little stunted by TV editing: obviously toning down the violent impact for TV. Still, a big shootout cum fight in the vampire’s hideout and a nifty opening sequence showing Blade hunting down a bad vamp showcase some solid action and choreography.

The Blade franchise unfortunately lost its teeth when unnecessary secondary characters were introduced, darkness was replaced somewhat by campness and the main man himself was pushed to the sidelines. House of Chthon is by no means a disaster and certainly worth a watch but will probably be favoured more by the Angel and Buffy crowd.

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