Every week, I scour Netflix for a movie rated at one star and put it in my queue, suffering through it for your entertainment so that you don’t have to. In the past, I’ve taken on anime cancer demons, softcore Iraq War porn and racist ventriloquism, and this week, it’s a cartoon straight from the side of a custom van.
LADY DEATH (2004)
Starring: The notebook drawings of a teenage Slayer fan, brought to life through the magic of terrible animation.
It’s finally gotten to the point where it’s not the sure thing that it used to be, but let’s be honest here, folks: the vast majority of movies based on comic books have been absolutely terrible. The great ones are out there, but for every Dark Knight there are four or five Batman Forevers and X-Men 3s tripping over themselves to be as bad as they possibly can. And yet, none of them have managed to reach the lows of Lady Death.
For those of you unfamiliar with the character, Lady Death rose to prominence in the ’90s during an era when the only requirements for a comic book to succeed were 22 pages and two staples. After first appearing in the genuinely godawful “Evil Ernie” from the now-defunct Eternity Comics, Lady Death became the flagship character of the uniformly terrible Chaos! Comics, achieving success based entirely around her big hair and gigantic rack. Eventually, the fact that Lady Death was only read by total creeps and kids that were too young to buy real porn caught up with Chaos! and their exclamation point and drove them out of business a short time after the 9/11 tribute issue (yes, really), although she remains a popular subject for regrettable tattoos to this day.
Released by the now-defunct ADV Films a good ten years after Lady Death’s popularity peaked, the animated movie was an attempt to capitalize on the popularity the character enjoyed before the ill-fated revamp by the now-defunct CrossGen Comics, and–huh. That’s the third time I’ve typed “now-defunct” in this article. Starting to sense a pattern here.
The one constant throughout Lady Death’s unchecked spree of driving companies out of business has been creator Brian Pulido, who gets a story credit for the movie, which I assume means he was the one who transcribed a Manowar album into a notebook whose margins were filled with freehand pentagrams and Slayer logos before handing it off to the actual screenwriter.
As it opens, Lady Death and her nipples are leading an army of guys who look exactly like Eddie from Iron Maiden in a battle against Satan, and while this scene doesn’t even come close to making the viewer want things explained, the movie decides to go ahead and spend the next hour on a flashback anyway. Thus, we cut to 16th century Sweden, and this is where the filmmakers’ research really shows through. Unfortunately, they chose to conduct this research at the Charlotte Renaissance Faire, which explains why all the medieval Swedes have Southern accents.
Back in Sweden, Lady Death’s name was Hope, and if you don’t think this is going to lead to multiple lines like “Hope is dead,” and “Hope is lost,” then brother, you are severely overestimating Brian Pulido’s familiarity with the concept of subtlety. Unfortunately for Hope and her One True Love, who – purely by coincidence, I’m sure – looks an awful lot like Pulido, it turns out that her old man is Satan, who has been living in Sweden for reasons that are never even addressed, let alone explained. He’s eventually found out (probably because he’s eight feet tall, wears bright red armor and subsists on a Pac-Manish diet of ghosts), and Hope gets burned at the stake as a witch.
Once her skin starts boiling off, which is rendered in loving detail, she calls the old man for help and ends up being dragged off alive to Hell. But don’t worry, fans of torture! That’s just the first of many scenes of abuse thrown in to capture the elusive creep demographic.
Seriously. Once she’s in Hell, she’s immediately tossed into a mud pit and horsewhipped. The scene feels like it goes on for eight or nine hours, but as the movie itself is only 76 minutes long, it was probably only uncomfortably long by a matter of minutes.
Once her schedule frees up a little, Hope decides to kill Satan, develops super-powers for no particular reason, and starts hanging out with Cremator, another failed Chaos! property who teaches her how to use a sword. This has the additional (and again, completely unexplained) side effects of turning her hair and skin white and giving her an even larger rack and an affinity for roaming around in a bikini, and she renames herself Lady Death, because hey, why not?
At this point, the movie turns into your kid brother’s D&D campaign, as Lady Death hunts down “the sword named… Darkness” so that she can get super-powers. Really. The sword named Darkness. And if that wasn’t metal enough, then wait for her to get her mighty steed: Forget unicorns, Lady Death’s got an Octocorn.
Someone drew a horse with six horns, and then decided they’d better add another two just to make sure it wasn’t too girly.
Eventually, Satan tries to stop her rebellion by stealing the sword named… Darkness, but Lady Death learns that it was never the sword, and that the power was inside her all along.
I am not kidding. That is what happens. And if that doesn’t put it in the running to be the most awful comic book movie of all time, I don’t know what does. So congratulations, 1996 Direct-To-Video Vampirella movie: You may finally lay down your burden.
|Chris Sims is a freelance comedy writer from South Carolina. He briefly attended USC before he dropped out to spend more time with Grand Theft Auto, and his career subsequently took the path that you might expect from someone who makes that sort of decision. He blogs at http://www.the-isb.com and creates comics at http://www.actionagecomics.com.|