Apocalypse and the Beauty Queen (2005)

Hi all, Nate here. Yeah, yeah, I've been busy at work lately, sorry! Anyway, I'm here now and that's all that matters. Know what doesn't matter? This movie. Because it's terrible and boring and poorly shot and has all the hallmarks of a “senior project at film school but my mom stopped sending me money halfway through the shoot so I had to borrow the rest of the budget from my cousin Tina who works at Walmart”. But I only paid a single G-Dub for it when my local Blockbuster died so I guess I can't complain too much. Ok, I will.

Hey remember reading about Countess Bathory in your European History 101 class? The Hungarian sicko who (allegedly!) murdered hundreds of young girls and bathed in their blood to keep her skin young? Yeah, her, the one that Goth chick in your dorm had tattooed on her hip. You also like the apocalypse, right? Of course you do, you can't get enough stories about the collapse of Western Civilization and the resulting deconstruction of social mores and bad teeth. I know you so well. Our movie is a mash-up of the two, a retelling of the Bathory legend but set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland populated by starving scavengers and cut-throat marauders (i.e. a Saint Louis, Missouri not too unlike real life...). How does that work out for us? Not so well. While the basic idea is sound, the execution is flawed. With a huge budget and a competent production team this could have been a fantastically intense and gory thriller. But, sadly, the money was lacking and the end product shows it.

The first problem is the setting and the timeline. When you have zero dollars in the bank for sets and props, the “apocalypse” is reduced to the western corner of Bob's Salvage Yard and Discount Auto Parts, the corner with the half-dozen junked station waggons and Old Blind Willy's tool shed. The timeframe is also a problem as they say it's just 3 years since the End of the World, though everything the actors say makes it seem like it's been 300 years since you last logged onto your Facebook account and found out all your friends had been turned into zombies. The solution? Slap that blue filter over your camera lens when filming that tire dump, works every time!

The “apocalypse” looks like this...

...and is populated by these types. Oh my.

Another problem is with the girl they picked to play the Bathory character. She's not an actress as much as someone that the film's director owed a really big favor to. Like, “I helped you drive that ex-wife-shaped rolled-up carpet across the border into Mexico that one time and gee whiz I'd sure love to have the lead part in your little movie...”. Her stage direction seems to have been subtle variations of “cackle like a cartoon villain witch, ok?” and “stomp around a lot like you're queen of the trailer park, ok?”. Plus she's not near pretty enough to jive with her character's backstory as a former beauty pageant winner and high-dollar NYC fashion model, but just (sorta) pretty enough not ask any questions about why your ex-wife went to visit her sister in Tacoma and, you know, just never came back.

That's artsy! Now put down the mirror.

No really, put it down, you're not in a Disney movie.

Bathory's lover/captain of the guard/stooge is Matthew, a legitimately handsome dude with floppy Jon Snow hair and the soft, supple hands of a guy who spends a lot of time playing Call of Duty while his cheerleader girlfriend makes him sandwiches because she loves himomgheissodreamy!. Matthew is perhaps the one character who gets any sort of arc, we watch him struggle with his role as Bathory's soulpatched boytoy and enforcer, eventually falling in love with a captive girl, betraying her, betraying Bathory, double-betraying them both, shaving off his soulpatch, and finally growing some smooth, hairless balls and tossing off Bathory's yoke and running off to be happy as can be with Sylvie the slave girl, before taking a hard right turn again and becoming the ultimate evil in the universe and getting shot to death. You take what you can get in this type of movie.

How brooding!

Peekaboo. I'm handsome.

The aforementioned slave girl Sylvie is nominally the film's protagonist, and the frequent voice-over narrator (an annoying prerequisite seeing as how the budget can't visually show the history of this world). She starts out as just a local waif with suspiciously good fashion sense before her (meh, sure) beauty attracts the malicious eye of Bathory, who has Matthew kidnap her to use her sweet, sweet Midwestern blood to keep her cheek bones looking crisp. Sylvie, unfortunately, has almost zero emotional appeal to the audience, mostly because she's either deliberately or because-the-script being all “whatever, dude” slacker emo girl most of the time, refusing at all costs to look amazed or scared or confused or anything other than “when is the check going to clear?”. Plus she falls for Matthew's obviously devious charms, despite constantly telling us how street-smart and wise she is.

Apparently she looted Jennifer Anniston's house.

Awww, a clawfoot tub in the woods, romantic!

There's also two comic relief guys who work for Bathory, a squirrelly white cowboy who looks like Rick Grimes' younger brother just out of rehab and a pudgy black guy who is just crushing those racial stereotypes with his wannabe gangsta raps about phat butts and hoes. This is not a movie that cries out for comic relief sidekicks in any way and the several times we break action to follow them around serve only to remind us just how much we hate the local improv comedy club scene. This movie suffers from these frequent polar shifts in tone, is this horror, is it dark comedy, is it a rom-com, you never really can put a finger on which shelf in the rental store this one would sit. Trick question, this movie went directly from the shipping box to the $1 clearance bin by the bathrooms.

The dudes are very unpleasant.

Oh, and there's also wasteland hookers.

Typical of b-movies, a lot of people end up with speaking parts in this movie, way more than the script or my patience can handle. There's some old guys, a rival leader from a neighboring area, someone named Leroy, this one woman with pajamas, I don't know, I don't care about any of them. The subplots only serve to pad out the contractually-obligated running time and take valuable screen time away from what should be the core plot, the Queen, the Usurper, and the Matthew-shaped sharp stick they poke each other with. What that one random guy with the homeless vet beard is doing with that girl with bad teeth doesn't matter at all. Of course, what really matters most is that, while this movie is surprisingly light on graphic violence or drug use or foul language any worse than a sweeps week episode of True Detective, it is absolutely full to the brim with boobs. So many boobs. How many boobs? Yes, James, I hear you asking.

Lots of boobs, that's how many.

And ponytails!

Happy? I'm not. So, in closing, this movie is (mostly) shit and you shouldn't watch it. I kinda wish I had that dollar back now.

A mini-tv and proper armpit hygiene. Yes, that type of movie.

The End.

Written in November 2015 by Nathan Decker.

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