“Death comes to all… but one.”
Directed by Michael Staininger
Starring Wes Bentley, Sofya Skya, Michael Madsen and Eric Roberts
So, I lined this one up for The Summer of Lovecraft, but it turns out this one isn’t based on Lovecraft’s ‘The Tomb’, but on, well…
The nameless narrator’s marriage to the beautiful, intelligent Ligeia ends with her tragic death. Sometime later, he marries the beautiful Lady Rowena, who also dies, then returns to life, but as Ligeia, who once told her husband that will could overcome death.
Jonathan Merrick (Bentley) is one of those independently wealthy English lit professors, with a beautiful fiancee named Rowena (Kaitlin Doubleday) and a promising career. But then in walks Ligeia (Skya), a sexy Ukrainian grad student researching the existence of the soul.
Spellbound, Jonathan pursues an affair with Ligeia, while she goes around murdering people with a syringe and sucking out their souls with Bane’s mask from The Dark Knight Rises. Heedless of the fact that she has done in his bestie, University Chancellor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (seriously, I missed his name,) Jonathan ditches Rowena for Ligeia and moves with her to Ukraine, buying her old family home, where she pursues her research into immortality until he is tipped off by the caretaker, Eric Roberts (again…).
Jonathan releases Tagawa’s soul and starts to drive away, but Ligeia leaps off the roof and kills herself. Jonathan marries Rowena, then Ligeia possesses the caretaker’s niece Loreli (Mackenzie Rosman), kills Eric Roberts and Rowena’s dad (Michael Madsen) within a matter of minutes, drugs Rowena and jumps bodies to her so she can be with Jonathan forever, or something. Then Rowena possesses Loreli, they drug Ligeia and switch Rowena back, but now Ligeia is back in Loreli (ooOeeEEeooOO!) and this thing is finally finished.
What’s wrong with it?
Eric Roberts and Michael Madsen are the stunt casting. Hell, even Tagawa is phoning it in, and he played Mortal Kombat dead straight.
Remember when Wes Bentley was a bright young thing? A bit like Toby Macguire but with slightly more range? Hold that thought; it might get you through.
Sofya Skya is a Russian ballerina. It shows in her English language acting.
By the time Ligeia jumps off the roof, I was just glad the film was ending. It was only about halfway through. The problem is that nothing happens, and it doesn’t happen really slowly, with lots of flash cuts to random snakes and spiders and female symbols with horns and shit.
Ligeia’s murderin’ needle is fucking huge, and yet she somehow sneaks it into the faculty party in a slinky cocktail dress.
In the denouement, Ligeia/Rowena mysteriously becomes super strong.
Did I mention, nothing happens.
What’s right with it?
Mackenzie Rosman is creepy as fuck as the possessed Loreli.
The juxtaposition of Rowena’s light, white house and Ligeia’s Goth-y loft apartment is trite, but decently carried off.
How bad is it really?
It’s just so, so dull, despite – or perhaps because of – its aspiration to be erotic.
Best bit (if such there is)?
What’s up with…?
- Ligeia’s super strength?
- The half-arsed erotica?
- Ligeia’s tomb, which is actually a fucking well? Loreli pushes her uncle down it and he’s falling forever.
Production values – A few glowy ‘soul’ lights and some black-eye possession effects are well enough done, but the flashy intercuts of alleged symbolism and the lighting in general are pretty poor. 14
Dialogue and performances – Oh gawd; Eric Roberts and Michael Madsen are the talent. 18
Plot and execution – Halfway through I got so bored I couldn’t believe I was only halfway through. It simultaneously felt like it was done, and that nothing had happened. 17
Randomness – Randomness would mean something, anything, was happening. Although I guess there’s the super-strength. And, you know, any of the plot, so called. 14
Waste of potential – I suspect that Corman’s version is better. Let that sink in. 15