SEPTEMBER 9, 2010
A hefty portion of my 1500+ reviews have been from DVDs, but I do believe Metamorphosis is the first one in which one of the most significant bonus features was a Hungarian rap video. At least, I think they’re Hungarian – neither the video nor the end credits gives them a name or any sort of information about their existence. The movie’s from Hungary, as is the director, and the song is so ill-fitting (and terrible) that I have to assume they are friends of the director or one of the producers.
Well, it doesn’t matter. What matters is this: Metamorphosis is nothing like I was expecting. Based on the box art and description, I figured it was the usual sort of crappy DTV vampire movie with a few young folks getting picked off one by one, and that Christopher Lambert would appear in 2-3 scenes that had little bearing on anything else. But it had more to it than that; too much, in fact. It’s a damn slow movie, but once Lambert shows up as a vampire and begins wreaking havoc around the castle, it’s pretty fun. Also, it’s not the first horror film to use the Elizabeth Bathory story as a backdrop, but it’s the rare (only?) one that actually paints them in a sympathetic light (Lambert’s character is actually the last descendant of the family that was responsible for Bathory’s death), which is pretty cool.
But all the goodwill earned by letting Lambert chew the scenery and kill annoying folks (I truly hated all three of the American heroes, due to their terrible acting and even worse dialogue) gets tossed out the window when we get a twist that sort of negates the purpose of all the Lambert stuff. Worse, the twist needs to be explained over and over to the main character, who doesn’t believe it at first and then just won’t accept it. Seriously, the movie drags on for another 15 minutes after he first finds out the true nature of everything that has happened during the movie. A good twist has to come, sock the audience in the gut, and then lead to an ending no more than 3 minutes later. Can you imagine if say, in the Sixth Sense, Bruce found out he was a ghost and then spent another half a reel talking to the kid about it? “I’m a ghost?” “Yes.” “No way, that’s impossible.” “No, trust me, you’re a ghost.” “Really? Like, REALLY, I’m dead?” “Afraid so.” That’s pretty much what happens here. That it’s a damned stupid twist doesn’t make things any easier to swallow. If the movie had just ended when the bad guy got killed and the remaining heroes reunited, it would have been a minor success, instead of an almost one.
They’re also pretty loose with the vampire rules, basically just using the ones they like and dismissing the others with no rhyme or reason. Sunlight’s OK, but they still don’t cast a reflection. Also, we get this line: “If you’re a vampire, you can move freely through time and space!” Uh... huh? Since when is that a ‘thing’? I guess it explains the 1920s vamp in Dracula 3000 though. I’m all for changing the mythology a bit, but there has to be some sort of explanation for it. Why doesn’t sunlight hurt them? They just say “don’t believe everything you read” and that’s the end of the discussion. You mean the same thing I read that said you had no reflections, which IS part of your nature?
But all problems I had with the movie are washed away whenever Lambert is on-screen. I’ve long been a fan of his, ever since I saw Fortress back in 1993 (which remains my favorite Stuart Gordon movie). He’s got a limited range, but he’s a very unique action hero. And this is the rare time I’ve seen him play a villain, and he seems to be having a grand old time. His outfit (and hair) makes him look like he’s dressed up as Steven Seagal, and he gets to do his little laugh 3-4 times – it’s the only time the movie really comes to life, but it’s so enjoyable it actually makes up for the slowness in the first 50 minutes or so.
Another thing I liked was that neither he nor Elena Hoffman played their respective ancestors in the film’s opening sequence, which is truly rare for this sort of thing. You ALWAYS see actors playing the ancestors of their main characters in these prologues, which I never got – I’ve seen photos of my ancestors, I don’t look much like them at all, let alone EXACTLY like them (if you think about it, it’s sort of a slap in the face to the other side of the family that produced the person – i.e. if I was playing my dad’s great great grandfather in a prologue, what about my mother’s side?). Another nice touch was that Lambert wasn’t really playing a villain in his first (pre-vampire) scenes. Given the usual nature of big stars (compared to the others anyway) in these things, I really thought he was done with the movie when his (serious, seemingly decent) character died 10 minutes in, making his 3rd act reappearance as a villain a nice surprise.
Also there’s an old guy who looked a bit like Bob Shaye, so that’s cool.
The movie was shot in 2005, and first premiered at a festival in 2006, where it won awards for Hoffman and director Jeno Hodi. Clips of this are shown on the other bonus feature (the non Hungarian rap video one), which is a usual sort of EPK style 20 minute making of, albeit with Hodi providing commentary over the non interview portions, which is something I’d like to see more often. You won’t really learn anything earth-shattering, but it’s a well put together piece all the same. But I wanted to know why the movie took so long to see release – a lot of these things aren’t exactly hot from the oven, but 5 years is a long time, especially in this day and age, as the film is a vampire movie with romance – hardly a tough sell in the current Twilight/True Blood/Vampire Diaries climate. This should have been on shelves for people like me to rent at least two years ago!
What say you?