Decadent Evil (2005)
Starring Phil Fondacaro, Debra Mayer, Raelyn Hennessee, Daniel Lennox, Jill Michelle
Directed by Charles Band
When B-movie mega producer Charles Band announced the formation of his latest production company, Wizard Entertainment, earlier this year, my first thought was to wonder whether this would be the return of the Charles Band from the past that provided us with many a choice B-movie or the Charles Band of recent years that didn’t seem to take any pride in the films he was churning out so long as they made a quick buck. That question was answered the moment Decadent Evil began. The movie clocks in at barely over 70 minutes in length and yet the first 10 minutes consisted of a gratuitous prologue composed entirely of footage from Band's earlier film The Vampire Journals with an occasional voiceover trying desperately to justify all this by very loosely tying it into this movie by claiming it explains the history of the vampire clan featured in the film. What a crock. It smells of Band knowing his movie came in too short so he recycled one of his previous movies by chopping it down to ten minutes in order to pad the film.
This prologue is followed up with an rather stretched out opening credits sequence, then what appears to be cityscape stock footage taken from another Band film, Shrunken Heads, that then leads to a long scene set in a strip club that has little dialogue and is filmed so dark you can barely see the naked dancers. It takes over 20+ minutes for the actual story to begin in a movie that lasts only 70+ minutes.
Decadent Evil continues a disturbing trend I'm increasingly noticing in direct-to-video B-movies. Like far too many films I've seen of late, Decadent Evil barely has any plot at all. It's another one that seems like the filmmaker came up with a concept and filmed that without bothering to develop a script that fleshes out the idea into an actual story. Instead, characters are left to inexplicably recite plot details out of thin air, and that’s only on those rare occasions when there are plot details. Most of the film just consists of the various characters doing whatever to kill some time between those few plot-centric moments. I'm really getting fed up with crap like this.
The story of Decadent Evil - what little there is - tells the tale of an evil vampiress named Morella that runs a strip club/brothel as a cover for her and her fellow female vampires (All two of them!) to drain the blood of the living. Morella is on a quest to become the supreme ruler of her particular line of vampires, which can be accomplished by acquiring the souls of 10,000 victims...or was it 100,000? I forget exactly what the magic number was, but the important thing is that she’s only three away.
This whole deal about acquiring the souls of victims to become this ruling vampire is so poorly explained it makes virtually no sense. Somehow, the first spray of blood from a fatal vampire attack contains the very essence of a person’s soul or something like that. So getting bit by a vampire is now instant death? I know; I’m over thinking this, but still, it’s such a poorly conceived idea that’s so poorly explained you only have a vague idea what the actual concept is supposed to be.
Enter Ivan, who at 3'6" is easily the world’s shortest vampire hunter. Played by Phil Fondacaro, a Band movie regular last seen briefly as "Chihuahua" in Land of the Dead, and dressed like Hugh Jackman’s Van Helsing, Ivan’s got a personal beef with Morella, the subject of which is brought up a few times in conversation but without benefit of getting a real explanation that’s greatly needed. He and Morella will make reference to this backstory but we’re left to piece it all together, and for us to give a damn it really needed more fleshing out. Fondacaro is amusing and he’s a capable enough actor to hit the right notes for such a part, but Band doesn’t give him anything to do but spout off some vampire factoids, few of which ever actually come into play. Even when he confronts the vampires it still plays out in the least imaginative ways possible. It’s hard to believe that two screenwriters are credited and yet neither one could come up with anything amusing to do with a concept as campy as a midget vampire hunter.
The majority of the film consists of the good guys sneaking about Morella’s house plotting to do her in and Morella feeding on victims and gloating about how she will soon rule her line of vampires without ever giving us any indication as to what that ultimately means for her, vampires, and the human race. Ivan keeps telling us it would be really bad but again, no details.
To further pound home just how little thought went into the plot, Morella has those two female vamps working for her. The evil one is named Spice. She looks like Kristanna Loken’s Bloodrayne after shopping at Hot Topic. The other is named Sugar. You know you’re in the land of no imagination when a pair of female characters are named Sugar & Spice. Sugar is so sweet, so nice, and so down to earth you have to wonder how she ever became a vampire stripper/hooker working for someone as evil as Morella. Yet another backstory that never even gets brought up. Sugar is in love with a mortal dork named Dex, and they both end up joining forces with Ivan. All three of these supporting characters contribute next to nothing to the film. Spice exists solely as Morella’s henchwoman to give Ivan someone to kill as warm-up and Sugar appears to only exist in order to give Dex a reason to exist because without Dex there would be nobody for Ivan to explain the rules to vampire hunting to.
Now because this is a Charles Band film there has to be some sort of pint-sized puppet creature. Band’s newest creation is "Marvin, the Horny Homunculus", a deformed humanoid creature that Morella keeps locked in a cage. It spends almost the entire film in the cage except for the one moment when it gets loose and licks a naked woman’s breast.
Band has already formed a toy company with plans to release a "Marvin" figure. He must have lost his mind if he thinks this is a marketable character. It’s barely in the movie and it barely does anything. It isn't even a particularly neat looking character. "Marvin" looks like Danny Trejo if he were a foot tall and had his flesh ripped off in a Hellraiser flick. Big whoop!
The final scene of the film with "Marvin, the Horny Homunculus" living up to his name convinced me that Band came up with that punchline first and everything that came before it was just filler he had the screenwriters come up with to build up to that one final moment. Problem is, that punchline isn't funny. It's not even an original idea. It only reinforced what a waste of time the movie was.
Charles Band has always been a better producer than a director and lord knows he’s produced his fair share of stinkers, but this is one of the worst films he has ever made. Back in the days of Full Moon you’d watch one of those "Videozone" features after the film and even if the movie was terrible you still got a sense that they were at least trying. The Decadent Evil DVD features a brief featurette of Band sitting in a chair reciting the Wizard Entertainment mission statement, all of which rings hollow after watching the pitiful feature. He talks of reaching out to the fans by putting on these roadshows in 20 cities around the country and I honestly wonder if he really believes that crap like Decadent Evil is going to inspire the sort of fanbase that his Puppet Master, Trancers, and Subspecies movies have. Despite his claims to the contrary, I honestly wonder if Band just doesn't care anymore or if he's just lost it. The next two films from his Wizard Entertainment, Doll Graveyard and The Gingerdeadman, both look vastly superior to this one so perhaps there is still hope. Nonetheless, a film as pitiful as Decadent Evil is quite an auspicious start for his newest production company.