15th century Sweden and the Church still holds most of the populace in its ironclad grip. Hope is the beautiful daughter of a powerful mercenary lord named Matthias, who is forever conscripting men into his ever swelling army in order to fight the good fight. However, a chance encounter reveals Matthias for who he really is, the demon king Lucifer, and as he transports himself back to his Hellish domain, Hope is left to the mercy of the populace.
Incarcerated and then burnt at the stake, Hope has no other choice but to repeat the incantation she overheard and summon two winged demons who rip her free from this mortal coil and take her straight to hell, her father’s dominion.
However, his plan to subjugate her to his will and force her to rule alongside him fails as she rejects his corruption and in so doing is cast out of his palace, left to fend for herself should she survive the long fall.
But survive she does and after a glimpse of the terrible birthright power that she wields, the cast-out master blacksmith known as Cremator befriends her and together they forge an alliance that will see them challenge the status quo of Hell, gather an army and overthrow Lucifer himself!
Lady Death is a comic franchise born from the minds of Brian Pulido and Steven Hughes, making her first appearance back in 1991 in Eternity Comics’ Evil Ernie #1. Bankruptcy saw her published by three different publishers over the years and in 1994 A.D. Vision (ADV) saw it fit to craft a straight to DVD feature length movie based on the comic book character. It is directed by Andy Orjuela and runs through a Carl Macek scribed story adapted by Brian Pulido for the screenplay.
It’s important to note that there are some fundamental differences between the movie version and the comic version of Lady Death, the most notable being the character motivations itself. In the comics, Lady Death seeks to circumvent a Lucifer-placed curse that bars her from returning to Earth while a living human still walks on it by wiping out all life on Earth – in the movie they give her a more heroic slant as she seeks to topple the tyrant that is Lucifer and his demon generals.
As a story, Lady Death doesn’t really have all that much and it is a pretty rushed plot that basically shows us the origin of the character, throws her in hell, and then for the next hour trains her up at light speed, lets her fight for a weapon and then gives us the challenge to Lucifer as the final fight.
It’s pretty shallow and because the plot is so rushed you don’t get a great sense of character development as progressions are just kind of taken for granted at times. We literally rush through from start to finish, making the whole thing seem nothing more than an excuse for the final battle sequence – which unfortunately is not exactly all that earth shattering either.
There really isn’t much more there. No humour, no real drama, no real horror – and that’s just really because the of the sub par artwork believe it or not! Even the action feels very stilted and tempered, and so as a whole, Lady Death: The Movie really doesn’t offer much of a motivation to see it.
In terms of animation artwork, I’m afraid that the use of pretty standard Saturday morning cartoon stock hurts the experience pretty badly as the background artwork is particularly sparse and boring, the demons are ridiculously… well stupid with seemingly little thought or time given to their design or presentation and the action sequences end up looking pretty run of the mill, even silly at times! Of course Lady Death does get a little more attention paid to her than the other character designs, but not even her antagonist Lucifer gets a decent art treatment.
The animation works, but it really isn’t great and definitely doesn’t capture the feel or mood of the movie correctly, which is of course a big visual letdown. It looks budget and I suppose since this is a budget release, a person really shouldn’t expect anything better, but still, even on a tight budget you expect something like a movie to be just that little bit better or perhaps made with just that little more love for the product. Thankfully though not all is lost because at least we get a decent(ish) soundtrack from Bill Brown and voice acting from Christine M. Auten, Mike Kleinhenz and the rest of the usual ADV voice acting crew.
It’s not particularly polished and it is most definitely a budget title, with a weak rushed story and pretty generic visuals. There really is no reason I can think of to urge you to watch it and as such, please feel free to give this one a skip and walk on by without looking back. It really will be a waste of your precious time!
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Death:_The_Movie