Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Vamp or Not? Odysseus and the Isle of Mists

This was a SciFi channel release from 2008 that was directed by Terry Ingram. When it aired in the UK it used the name Odysseus and the Voyage to the Underworld but that title is somewhat inaccurate and the Isle of Mists title is much better suited to the film.

Putting this in context, I had this recorded to watch and never got around to it. Then I was approached on Facebook and asked if I had ever looked at the film as either an Honourable Mention or a ‘Vamp or Not?’ The gentle prompt had me looking at the film and, in honesty, I think I could actually head straight to a review of this but I like the idea of the ‘Vamp or Not?’ as an exploration of what they did with their lore seems proper.

The story is being told by Homer (played old by Perry Long and young by Randal Edwards, Lost Girl) who is recording the lost chapter of the Odyssey… strangely as, in this, Homer is travelling with Odysseus (Arnold Vosloo) and bleats on about recording everything and so why this chapter is lost is perplexing. We will return to old Homer at the end of this discussion.

Arnold Vosloo as Odysseus
Odysseus and his men are still searching for their home in Ithaca. One weakness of the film was the fact that there was an assumption of knowledge of Odysseus and the Odyssey, indeed there was even some assumption of knowledge of the Illiad – despite the fact that the story portrayed had little in common with the original Greek stories itself. The upshot of this is that references are made that some viewers may not get and there was a laziness in the characterisation that gave an assumption that the characters’ dynamics were known and meant there was little in the way of character dynamics in real terms.

Be that as it may, the ship is going close to the Sirens and Odysseus orders his men to put wax in their ears, to protect them from the Siren’s song, unfortunately there isn’t quite enough wax and he has himself lashed to the mast. The song begins but Odysseus realises they are under attack by winged bat-like creatures and orders himself unlashed (how did anyone hear his order?), they fight and then the ship wrecks.

Eurylochus and Christos
They wake on the beach of the Isle of Mists. Close by are skeletons hung on frames, handily giving them access to the dead men's weapons. One of the men called Christos (Michael Antonakos, Blood Ties) has the second sight and sees them all dead. When Odysseus orders the men forward Christos refuses to go and abandons his king. This leaves Odysseus with Homer, Eurylochus (Steve Bacic, also Blood Ties), Perimedes (JR Bourne) and a couple of guys equivalent to Star Trek red-shirts. That night they are attacked, the creatures seem to avoid shields but care nothing for blades. In the morning they are pretty much done for, just as Christos foresaw.

healing the wounded
Eurylochus has gouges down his face and his guts are hanging out, Perimedes has a snapped ankle and is haemorrhaging blood, Homer has a long piece of wood through his stomach and Odysseus is down for the count. One of the creatures feasts on a ‘red-shirt’ and, when Odysseus cries out, it turns its attention to him. A sudden noise chases it off, it is the Siren (Stefanie von Pfetten), she heals the men with her magic and explains that she too is trapped but has a haven where the creatures cannot go. She wants an alliance to get off the island but does not give her name.

revealed as Persephone
As things go along Odysseus gets a vision of Athena (Sonya Salomaa, The Collector: The Vampire) and discovers that the ‘Siren’ is actually Persephone. Far from being the embodiment of the spring and summer seasons, she is an evil Goddess who wanted to enslave mankind and has been bound to the island by the Gods through the Hellfire Cross – a sword, handily. She cannot touch the cross, only a mortal can do that.

pit of blood lure
The bat-creatures are her children and it is suggested that they are neither alive nor dead and the word undead is mentioned. They can only be killed by thrusting something that was once alive and is now dead through their heart – wood, of course, is that. A shroud of death can hide a mortal from them (they discover via Christos, who then promptly is killed) and they thirst for blood. Odysseus and the guys lure one with a pit of blood and kill it (it dusts). Whilst they will attack in the day, they are stronger at night. Perimedes is attacked by one, which bites his neck to suck his blood, and he cries that it is stealing his soul – he has Odysseus finish him. My, it is all sounding very vampiric.

risen as a vampire
Of course they defeat Persphone, whose children die as she is defeated – though only Odysseus and Homer actually make it – but I want to return to old Homer who mentions creatures contemporary to him who attack by night, ripping throats out. He suggests they fear the sign of the cross (reminiscent of the hellfire cross) and can only be killed with a stake through the heart. He wonders where they came from and we cut to a risen Perimedes, who has long fangs and turns into a bat creature. It seems the bat-creatures, as well as being vampiric, have caused the plague of vampirism. Interestingly Persephone could take bat-creature form and so we wonder whether her children had human forms.

Perimedes is, clearly, a vampire – seen in the dying embers of the film. As for the creatures they are certainly vampiric, and I would say another species version of a vampire. They can pass their natural state on as a curse and are described as undead. This is definitely Vamp.

The imdb page is here.

No comments: