Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Witch's Hammer

The Witch's Hammer 2006
Director: James Eaves
Writer: James Eaves
Starring Stephanie Beacham, Claudia Coulter, Tom Dover, Harold Gasnier, Sally Reeve, Magda Rodriguez, Jon Sidgwick and Jason Tompkins

I am a sucker for vampire films and the idea of a vampire assassin was just too good to pass up. After viewing this film, I have to say it really delivered and was highly entertaining. It reminded me a lot of the late 90's vampire opus Razor Blade Smile, another film I have fondness for. This film has lots of action and some good martial arts fight sequence for such a low budget film. It has a capable cast that I mainly got into with the casting of Stephanie Beacham, who I have liked since her days as Hammer film beauty. She plays a credible bad guy in this film and as always is fun to watch, and still damn sexy to boot. The film combines different genre pieces like Blade with stuff like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It also leaves it open for a sequel which I would not be adverse to seeing. I watch a lot of low budget action films and this is one of the better ones I have seen come down the pipe line in quite some time. It also helps the film that Coulter is a credible and sexy heroine that you don;t mind seeing in sexy attire and kicking ass.
The plot basics are this, Rebecca (Coulter) is brought back fro near death by the top secret "Project 571". She is transformed into a vampire and trained in all sorts of lethal ways to kill as an assassin. The project has created her to kill other vampires, as they believe in the old adage "Fight fire with fire". Rebecca is then sent on a mission to find a book that has spells in it powerful enough to raise the dead. Rebecca is aided by two priests to hunt down master vampire Hugo Renoir. Hugo has the book and is well on his way to completing the ceremonies to open a portal through our world that will unleash hell itself. It will take all of Rebecca's skills to defeat all the vampires, demons and monsters between her and the book.
This is a well done film on a small budget. The direction by Eaves is very well done, he knows how to make a good action film with horror overtones. he stages the action sequences very well and they are very reminiscent of films like Blade, but just done on a smaller scale. The script is quite good too. It gives you just enough detail on Rebecca for the viewer to sympathize with her and to root for her through all the battles she must face in the story. The main villain, Madeline is written with enough ambiguity that you do not figure out till the end of the film what her true schemes and motivations are. The cast is excellent. Beacham as Madeline plays her very aloof and for quite awhile you really do not see what her full plans are. But when she does reveal them she really goes all out in playing an almost Bondian villain. Coulter as the vampire assassin, Rebecca is the anchor of the film and is made that way early on in the film. She is a capable actress and a excellent action hero that really carries all the fight scenes in the film. Her relationship with the priests in the film reminded me a lot of Jack Crow in Vampires relationship with the priest in that film. The SFX and effects in the film are low key and a little cheesy but the film works with the way they are used. The film really has a campy and comic book feel to it and that really makes the film all the more enjoyable. So, if you enjoy action/horror hybrids like Blade and Buffy, check this one out and you wont be disappointed.
This one gets 4 out of 5

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