Starring Dani Filth, David Vincent, Jill Janus
Directed by Tom Paton
Can you remember how many movies you’ve seen where they cast musicians who otherwise don’t act in roles that wound up seriously screwing up the movie? I know I’ve lost count. I understand the attraction: you fill a role, and get the fans of that musician to watch the movie.
You’d think, after decades of miscast roles filled with musicians who shouldn’t quit their day jobs, that filmmakers would learn.
The folks behind Realm Of The Damned certainly didn’t, and what might have been a decent semi-animated comic book adaptation is completely hosed by a bunch of talentless actors who sing in black metal bands.
Realm Of The Damned is a comic book that featured a plot drenched in the trappings of black metal and actually had several bands show up in the comic. This movie is a “motion comic” or a minimally-animated film with a full voiceover cast.
I’ll get one thing out of the way: the art is fantastic. The animation, limited though it is, works fine. Neither of those is a problem here.
The story is problematic, simply because it’s over-the-top and takes itself pretty damn seriously. Lord Balaur, an uber-vampire of sorts, is raised from the dead by a black metal band in Norway who desecrate a church and sacrifice one of their members. The surviving devotee remains to be the flunky of Balaur as the resurrected vamp seeks out his sister. His sister, Lady Athena, was responsible for Balaur’s death and now runs a part of the Vatican formerly devoted to hunting vampires. Alberic Van Helsing used to hunt vampires, but is now a broken man. He’s forced to unite with the vamps now running the show at the Vatican to stop Balaur before he consumes the hearts of three powerful beings that will make him unstoppable.
It’s full of over-dramatic dialogue, evil posturing, and a whole lot of cheese, but all of that can add up to a good time when presented properly.
What kills it here is the voice cast. Our hero, Van Helsing, is voiced by former Morbid Angel frontman David Vincent. Vincent is an American, Van Helsing is German or Dutch or something Germanic. I say that only because his lines are peppered with random exclamations of “mein gott” stated usually in a completely US accent. Vincent takes us on a grand tour of European accents by the time we’re done, though. A touch British here, some German there (though oddly rarely when he uses German words), some, hell, Australian? Finnish? Lithuanian? He’s all over the map. Almost everything is stated in a monotone without emotion other than “deep evil voice”. In short: he’s not an actor. That he’s the lead in a film is a problem.
Jill Janus of Huntress fairs better as Lady Athena, but she’s still just generic snarling evil. Luckily for her, that’s pretty much all Athena has to work with, so it fits okay, but definitely could have been better with someone trained in acting.
But the coup de grace, the absolute ruination of the project, is everyone’s favorite black metal midget:
Oh, Dani Dani Dani. You front a horrible band, you have a reputation of being a self-important asshole, and now you just tank this movie as the voice of Lord Balaur.
All Filth can do is howl a salivating, snarling shriek as every line read. The first time he shouts “CUUUUUUUNNNNNTTTTTTTT!!!!” at Athena, there were chuckles in the audience. The second time, there were belly laughs. The dialogue in Realm Of The Damned is already on that line where cheese becomes goofy, and Filth just rams it past that line and all the way into unintentional comedy. You can hear the froth as he barks every word into the microphone. If you ever wanted to watch a cartoon voiced by a caveman with rabies, you’ve got your chance thanks to the teeny Mr. Filth. You can tell he thinks he’s being oh-so-brutal, but it’s just laughable.
The project would be troubled without him. With him, it becomes a complete disaster.
It’s sad, as the people behind the comic were let down by the production of the film. Their work is good stuff: good art, clever references, and yes, some cheesy dialogue, but it fits the world of black metal perfectly. This is a genre that has bands like Goatwhore and Cattle Decapitation and songs like “Fucked With A Knife” without irony. You expect a little over-the-top cheese. But the performances just complete ruin it and turn this into a total parody. If you ran this without comment on Funny Or Die it’d go viral. I really doubt that’s what the comic creators intended.