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BloodRayne: The Third Reich (Blu-ray Review)

1 Jul, 2011 By: John Latchem

Street 7/5/11
Phase 4
Fantasy Action
$29.99 DVD or Blu-ray
Not rated.
Stars Natassia Malthe, Clint Howard, Michael Paré, Brendan Fletcher.

According to German director Uwe Boll, people watch vampire movies to see blood and sex. At least BloodRayne: The Third Reich delivers on that front.

Reich is the third film based on the “BloodRayne” video game franchise, and the latest video game adaptation for Boll, whose penchant for slickly produced schlock earned him a 2009 Razzie for Worst Career Achievement. To complete the honor, the Golden Raspberry Award Foundation dubbed him “Germany’s answer to Ed Wood.”

The franchise depicts the tale of Rayne, who is a dhampir, a special breed of vampire also known as a daywalker, with all the strengths of vampires (such as immortality) but none of the weaknesses (basically a female version of Blade). The first film (with Kristanna Loken in the title role) placed Rayne in the 1700s fighting the vampire king who created her, and the second (with Natassia Malthe replacing Loken) pitted Rayne against a vampire version of Billy the Kid in the Old West.

The lithesome Malthe returns as Rayne in the third film and actually gets naked this time around.

As the title suggests, the film features the intriguing combination of Nazis and vampires. In 1943, Rayne finds herself fighting a generic Nazi garrison on the eastern front of World War II, teaming with a resistance group to free Jews as they’re sent to concentration camps. During an attack that opens the film, she attempts to kill a Nazi commandant (Michael Paré, who has played a different character in each film) but accidentally mixes her blood with his, making him a dhampir as well.

As the commandant begins making his own army of vampires, a local Dr. Mengele-type hopes to capture Rayne to use her blood to create an immortality serum for Hitler. The doctor is played with relish by ‘B’-movie icon Clint Howard, who seems like he was born for the part.

One of the intriguing notions of supernatural fiction is the story potential for depicting fantasy or sci-fi elements affecting historical events. X-Men: First Class provides a good example of this by putting the mutants in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis. (And don’t overlook Transformers: Dark of the Moon with its alternate take on the lunar landing.)

Too much about Reich, however, is generic. None of the Nazis are actually named other than by their rank or title (a purposeful stylistic choice), and most of the dialogue seems like it could come from other vampire movies.

The movie is 80 minutes but feels longer, until it just kind of suddenly ends. There’s plenty of fighting, gun battles and swordplay, but what should be an epic final battle concludes way too quickly.

The fact that Rayne fights Nazis already makes it more faithful to the video game than its predecessors, although Boll comments that he always envisioned the “BloodRayne” movies as a trilogy, with the first two establishing more of the character’s history. (Viewers can decide for themselves how full of it they think Boll is.)

In addition to the commentary, the disc includes a half-hour making-of featurette that pads its running time with extended clips from the movie. There are plenty of interviews with Boll and castmembers, who defend Boll against the usual criticism he gets for his movies (from people who always line up to watch them anyway). We also learn Malthe named her dog Sookie, after the character on “True Blood.”

There’s also a five-minute interview with screenwriter Michael Nachoff, who is very honest about the production process not favoring writers. (As we hear in the making-of, about half the dialogue was improvised on set). After watching all the extras, there’s probably little the audience won’t know about the making of Reich.

Note: The DVD version comes with a digital copy, while the Blu-ray does not.

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