Lady Death: The Motion Picture (2004)

When Chaos Comics first introduced the character of Lady Death back in the original Evil Ernie comic book miniseries, she seemed like a pretty cool character at the time. A buxom blonde with a bust that would make Russ Meyer proud clad in nothing but some thigh-high black boots and a black leather bikini outfit that used her obvious male fantasy sex appeal to get impressionable, mentally unstable teenagers to go on killing sprees for her. Despite originating as a supporting player in what amounted to a slasher comic, the Lady Death character ended up becoming more popular than Evil Ernie, most likely due to the fact her male fantasy sex appeal got the attention of a lot of impressionable comic book fanboys too. She was soon branched off into her own comic series, but somewhere along the way creator Brian Pulido proceeded to change the character from being an evil supernatural vixen that manipulated others with her infernal feminine wiles to being a gothic sword and sorcery heroine. Think Red Sonja in Hell. This was about the point where I lost interest. Nonetheless, the combination of her sex goddess looks and the comic book’s ultraviolence helped give Lady Death a cult following.

When I first heard ADV Films was involved with the making of an animated Lady Death movie, I was both intrigued and bewildered. Intrigued by the prospect of how the hell they were going to pull this off and bewildered by the fact that someone was actually going to try and pull it off. After being in the works for several years, the movie finally arrived and I ended up getting my question answered exactly as I suspected it would be – they failed. Oh, did they ever fail.

There’s really no way to beat around the bush in saying this; Lady Death: The Motion Picture just plain sucks. Aside from the fact that the main character is a well-endowed blonde running around Hell in a leather bikini with occasional spurts of graphic violence, the movie seems to have been made with the mentality of a 1980’s cartoon based on a line of action figures. The bad guy himself even talks like a Skeletor wannabe, has the obligatory inept henchman, and lives in a lair that looks to have been patterned after the domain of the villain from the old Saturday morning “Blackstar” cartoon. At times it feels like the kind of anime tale better suited to hentai; yet, there is no sex, no tentacle rape (thank goodness!), and very little sex appeal — despite the physical appearance of the title character. There is simply no adult edge to this material unless you count the half-naked heroine and bloody deaths. Essentially, what we have here is a feature length episode of She-Ra, Princess of Power, but with skimpier clothes and more gore.

And there isn’t a trace of humor to be found either unless you count the atrocious dialogue that is often howlingly bad.

“There is no freedom in Hell.”

“You’ve learned much in your time in Hell, but I sense your spirit seems troubled.”

Good grief! It’s Hell, for crying out loud! We’re not exactly talking about a place known for its civil liberties and tranquil settings. Worst of all, Hell looks more like the part of Eternia where Skeletor lives or the bad part of town in Middle Earth. A barren wasteland, yes. A place of eternal damnation, no! It’s just another fantasy setting and a decidedly uninteresting one as it is portrayed here.

As for the story itself, it goes a little something like this:

Girl loves boy. Girl’s evil dad kidnaps boy and sacrifices his soul as part of his evil plot to conquer Hell. Evil dad goes to Hell, leaving girl behind to pay the price for his sins. Girl is burned at the stake and tricked into going to Hell by evil dad’s evil minion. Evil dad is now Lucifer, who tries to convince girl to join him in his conquest of Hell. Girl refuses and evil dad now Lucifer banishes her to the stark landscape of Hell. Girl begins developing supernatural powers and vows to kill evil dad now Lucifer, which in turn should save her soul, her boyfriend’s soul, and her mother’s soul, all of which are trapped there in Hell for eternity. Vengeance-minded girl with magic powers meets up with good-natured satanic blacksmith, who proceeds to act as her Obi-wan. Girl quickly transforms into pale-skinned, big breasted, scantily clad Lady Death warrior sorceress, who sets out to claim Asmodeus’ Sword, which it seems is the only weapon that can destroy evil dad turned Lucifer. Girl gets sword and recruits an army of demons that choose to follow her on her quest for reasons never really explained. Evil dad turned Lucifer does nothing the whole time but sit on his throne barking orders and insults at his seemingly only minion, who himself doesn’t do a whole lot other than spy on our heroine from time to time. In the end, the forces of the lesser of two evils defeat the forces of really bad, do-nothing evil; and Lady Death declares that she has succeeded in “bringing Hell back into alignment,” whatever the bloody hell that means.

What a mess! Have I stressed enough just how lame this movie is?

Despite being the ultimate evil, Lucifer does nothing, and his ultimate goal is never really defined. He constantly says that getting his daughter to join him is the final part of his plan to conquer Hell. But other than saying that repeatedly, he never bothers to give us much explanation as to what the rest of his plan is or, for that matter, what more there is in Hell to conquer. Skeletor and even Metlar from the “Inhumanoids” cartoon came across as more of a demonic threat than this lame retread of Legend’s Darkness. And Lady Death herself has also been reduced to a bland, one-dimensional character. And there’s nothing in this movie that can compensate for the mediocrity of the story and characters.

As for the animation itself, it’s not bad but not terribly impressive either. It has that standard mid-to-late nineties OVA quality to it. Nobody is going to confuse this with Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, but given the quality of the material, the animation is still better than it deserves.

Aside from really diehard fans of Lady Death, I can’t imagine anyone needing to waste their time watching this movie. In fact, I have a hard time imagining that even the diehard fans will be satisfied with this dreck. Maybe Brian Pulido should have bothered to write the script for the movie himself because the guy that did gave it the Spawn treatment, if you catch my drift? Even as mindless fluff, this is inexcusably weak.

½ out of 5

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Jon Condit

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