So, last night, I watched on old favorite on DVD …
The Witches Hammer (2006) is a micro-budget vampire action/thriller written, produced and directed by James Eaves for his UK-based Amber Pictures. Some consider The Witches Hammer a bad film. Silly fools. The Witches Hammer is a really good film that delivers a compelling story, plenty of twists, well-drawn characters, competent performances, a sexy leading lady (Claudia Coulter), and a former prime time (American) soap star (Stephanie Beachum) – on 35mm! The only thing this awesomely entertaining film lacks is glossy Hollywood production.
Rebecca (Claudia Coulter) is killed, then brought back to life as a genetically-engineered vampire and trained to be a deadly assassin by a secret agency known as Project 571. Her mission is to kill rogue vampires. After Project 571 is destroyed, Rebecca is recruited by the same secret agency’s Project 572, led by witches Madeline (Stephanie Beachum) and Edward (Jonathan Sidgwick). Her new mission is to kill the powerful vampire Hugo Renoir (Tom Dover), who wants to release the Souls of the Damned into our world and plunge it into darkness. However, in order to kill Hugo, Rebecca needs the Malleus Maleficarum (aka “The Witches Hammer”), an enchanted book written by the first witch Katanya. Soon, Rebecca, with Edward in tow, finds herself facing all sorts of vampires, witches and demons trying to kill her and claim the book for themselves.
Watch the trailer here …
Now, here’s my top 10 favorite things about The Witches Hammer …
10. Victor’s back story. Several characters’ back stories are told via cool flashbacks, like stories within the story. Victor Ferdinand (Miguel Ruz) was a master assassin who fell for La Madre (Charlotte Kavanagh), an ancient vampire from a powerful blood line. Now, he’s one of the most dangerous vampires.
9. Charlotte and Oscar. Charlotte (Sally Reeve) is a circus fat lady vampire. Her heart is “so small and so deep within her that she cannot be killed.” Her companion Oscar (Jason Tompkins), a master acrobat and trained fighter, is a dwarf vampire. They kill a clown, a vacationing family, and the family’s little dog, too.
8. The Souls of the Damned. The three souls “not created by the hand of God, who grew from the sins and the hatred of the souls who passed through Purgatory” are are creepy cool creatures. The puppets were designed, built and voiced by Oliver Taylor, with the mouth by Harold Gasnier.
7. Katanya’s back story. Katanya (Magda Rodriguez), the first witch, was a Russian peasant whose child was taken and sacrificed by a foreign priest. She tried to kill herself but her anger and her pain screamed to the other side and she made a deal, becoming a witch driven by rage. She took her revenge by killing the priest with a giant wooden mallet, then slitting the throats of all the children in her village. She fled to the hills and wrote “The Witches Hammer” before the villagers found and killed her (again).
6. Charlotte’s back story. Charlotte was born into the wealthy Apone family in Victorian London. She had an insatiable hunger and, by the time she was 18, she was morbidly obese. She became a vampire after her father fed her what he thought was a rare European delicacy but was, in fact, vampire meat. She died, and returned that night; and, believing her father had poisoned her, she ate him alive.
5. The tavern fight sequence. Rebecca and Edward are enjoying drinks at a tavern when the Masked Man (Sam Smith), a ninja demon armed with a samurai sword, appears to challenge Rebecca. She grabs a samurai sword that just happens to be near her and faces off against him. She counters his every move and, soon, he creates a clone of himself; and, later, two clones. This scene, overall, is well-choreographed, despite some practiced moves. I love how Rebecca finally prevails. Her foe and his clones appear behind her, on the stage, and she bends over backwards as they thrust their blades forward, missing her; then, she spins around, swinging her blade across, vanquishing all three, and ends in a pose on one knee! Awesome!
4. The Lillettes. The Lillettes are the band performing in the tavern before the ninja demon appears. The song they’re playing is aptly titled “I wanna suck your blood.” The Lillettes were an all-girl punk band from Bournemouth, England [not the late ’70s Brighton punk band]. They were Angel Delite (vocals), Bunny duBois (lead guitar), Belle Swelle (guitar), Parma Violet (bass), and Kitty Bang Bang (drums). That’s all I really know about this band. Oh, and Parma Violet (aka Sonya Cisco) writes a cool blog called The Ramblings of a Formerly Rock N Roll Mum. She says, on that blog, that she did not actually appear in the film [but plays bass on the track]. I’d love to know more about this cool band because I love that song.
3. The warehouse fight sequence. Rebecca returns to Project 571’s warehouse headquarters only to find that her handlers, including her cute trainer (Adrian Johnson), have been killed. The culprits, 4 vampire thugs, surround her, and a stylish fight sequence ensues! Rebecca vanquishes the first three, easily, then rushes outside to grab a handgun from her motorcycle. “Hey!” she shouts, back inside, and blasts a hole in the final thug’s chest through which we can see her standing at the door. Cliché, sure, but still cool! Then, 2 witch thugs show up and another stylish fight sequence with bamboo sticks ensues! Of course, Rebecca prevails, again. I love when she kicks the last witch thug’s energy ball from his hands, then holds him as it ricochets back into his face. This extended warehouse sequence is, obviously, Hong Kong-influenced and is very cool as well as exciting!
Oh, and the most adorable scene in this movie occurs when Edward, after Rebecca vanquishes the last witch thug, shoots her in the leg with a tranquilizing dart. “Ouch,” she says, adorably, as she reaches for the dart. “Oh-oh,” she mumbles, adorably, as she falls over, adorably.
2. Rebecca’s blue jeans. Claudia Coulter sure knows how to wear a pair of blue jeans! Throughout most of The Witches Hammer, Rebecca wears a pair of tight, bell-bottomed blue jeans and she looks amazing! Definitely the best use of said wardrobe item since Jessica Biel‘s low-cut bell-bottoms in Marcus Nispel‘s 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre! However, Biel‘s blues are a big part of why I liked that remake, while Coulter‘s jeans are just an added bonus. Coulter also looks awesome in the finale’s ceremonial robe which exposes her lovely legs!
1. Claudia Coulter. The Witches Hammer‘s sexy leading lady is a Honduran-born, London-based actress, model, and voice-over artist who is fluent in both English and Spanish. She is just delightfully as Rebecca, whose deadpan coolness wonderfully compliments her skills in the arts of awesome badass-ery. I love her! However, I haven’t seen any of Coulter‘s other films, but, Josh Bagnall‘s Rock and Roll Fuck ‘N’ Lovely (2011) looks good. I’ll have to check that one out soon. Watch the trailer by clicking right here.
Other favorite things about The Witches Hammer include Stephanie Beachum as one-eyed Madeline, who isn’t really who Rebecca and Edward think she is; Jonathan Sidgwick as Edward, who hates vampires because one killed his wife; the powerful sorcerer Le Cardinale (Harold Gasnier), who is really an Oz-like coward who wants Rebecca to make him immortal in exchange for the book; Victor’s tanning booth vampire assassination; Rebecca’s swordfight with Victor; Rebecca’s fist fight with Hugo’s hentchman (Kris Tanaka, who was also the film’s fight choreographer); and so much more. Yeah, I love this little movie! Check out all of The Witches Hammer extras on Amber Pictures‘ Youtube channel by clicking right here.
James Eaves‘ The Witches Hammer reminds me a little bit of Jake West‘s Razor Blade Smile (1998) in that both are micro-budgeted English films about female vampire assassins. Eaves‘ film gets the nod. However, West went on to direct two awesome films, Evil Aliens (2005) and Doghouse (2009). Sadly, I haven’t seen any of Eaves‘ other films; but, I think I’ll start with the WWII horror anthology Angry Nazi Zombies (2012) [aka Nazi Zombie Death Tales (aka Battlefield Death Tales)] in which Eaves directs the segment “Medal of Honor”. Then, I’ll follow it up with the anthology Bordello Death Tales (2009) in which Eaves directs the segment “The Ripper”. Pat Higgins and Alan Ronald direct the other segments in both films. Micro-budgeted fun awaits, I’m sure!
I’ll let you know!