Sunday, April 20, 2014

Lacks Bite, and Snipes: "Blade: House of Chthon" (2006)

The feature-length pilot episode to the short lived television series desperately misses big screen star Wesley Snipes, and leaves the viewer hanging as the end credits roll.

Our half-breed vampire hero Blade (Kirk 'Sticky' Jones) and his human sidekick Shen (Nelson Lee) are battling vampires in Detroit. More specifically, they are battling business tycoon Marcus (Neil Jackson), who is revitalizing the ailing city by bringing back old buildings to their original state. Army vet Krista (Jill Wagner) returns home and learns her twin brother has been murdered. Through some detective work of her own, she traces his killing to Marcus, and encounters Blade, who reluctantly uses her to get inside Marcus' inner sanctum. Things go awry when Krista is made, and Blade stops at nothing to get her back on the side of the good vampire.

Although co-written by David S. Goyer, this pilot suffers from its television trappings. Jones is no Snipes, who was very good in the Blade role (and I write that liking all three Blade films). Jones is given a supporting role in his own series, as we watch him from a distance. He has the look down, but all of his lines play like sound bites from the films. Wagner is slightly better as the vindictive Krista, and Jackson portrays the suave Marcus suavely. Bill Mondy comes off best as a crooked cop helping Marcus, and I should mention a surprising cameo by Randy Quaid of all people. O'Fallon's action sequences are a mess of bad camera set-ups and too-quick editing. I liked what he did with the scarier parts of the film, however. When Krista is "turned," she has a fantastic dream sequence, followed by an eerie scene waking up in a body bag in a morgue. Both scenes are creepy and effective. For future reference- the word "Chthon" is not pronounced "cha-thon" but "kuh-thon," kind of like the sound of a frying pan being dropped on a linoleum floor.

Because this is the pilot episode, the viewer is left hanging about where the story was going to end up. The series only lasted twelve episodes, but after reading some synopses, it doesn't sound very interesting. As for the pilot episode itself, "Blade: House of Chthon" is a mediocre affair. (* * *) out of five stars.