Review of “Eternal”

Ah, the vampire story! People from Brazil to Malaysia to the Aborigines of Australia have vampire myths in their cultural canon. Lesbians have received their fair share of representation in Hollywood versions of the European vampire legend, from the ominous assault of artist’s models in Dracula’s Daughter (1936) to the whacked-out Daughters of Darkness (1971) to the super-stylish seduction by Catherine Deneuve in The Hunger (1983).

Oh and let’s not leave out those goofy German movies Vampyros Lesbos (1971) and Vampire Lesbian Kickboxers (2004). Woman-on-woman erotic predation has found a niche in blood-sucker cinema.

Eternal is set in Montreal. Canada has been producing some offbeat vampire flicks recently, like Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter (2001), which played to packed theaters on the GLBT film festival circuit a couple of years ago. It was a campy, low-budget hit even though watching it was like seeing something a group of eighth graders put together one day when they were bored. It made early John Waters look like late Bertolucci.

Eternal does not follow the low-budget route. It is a visually arresting and slick production jammed full of lovely women and beautiful sets. All the classic vampire elements are there minus the bats.

Creepy gothic mansion on a rainy night? Check. Hellhounds baying in the distance? Check. Luscious and irresistible vampire in low cut dress? Check.

The only problem is that this supposed “lesbian” vampire movie is about as lesbian as Madonna and Britney’s kiss at the VMAs.

There are plenty of theories out there that deconstruct the popularity of vampires as a fear and fascination with unbridled and/or deviant sexuality. When a movie purports itself to be about lesbian vampires, but only involves a sadistic female character that likes to take the beauty and innocence of women, sucking away these qualities through their blood after making out with them, this is not a lesbian movie.

This is lesbloitation.

Without the context of culture and behavior, motivation driven by desire, that special something that differentiates the sapphist from the German tourist, there is no lesbian. Hot women kissing each other does not a lesbian movie make.

This film does have a bisexual woman who strays outside of her marriage and becomes the first victim. But what kind of message is that telegraphing about bisexual people? Even the vampire proclaims that if she knew she (the bisexual wife) was married, she would not have agreed to meet her.

Back from this tangent, on to the review. Eternal is chock full of good-looking actors. The main character Raymond Pope (Conrad Pla) looks like a taller Vin Diesel. He is a very kinky cop that finally notices his wife has been missing for a few days and tries to track her down. He makes his way to Elizabeth Kane’s (Caroline Neron) mansion and asks her a bunch of questions she doesn’t answer while the hotter, updated version of Renfield, now called Irina (Victoria Sanchez), practically sits on his lap.

Elizabeth and Irina snacked on Pope’s wife and now have to cover up their error. Elizabeth does this by seducing and at the same time framing Pope for the grisly murders of his mistress (Ilona Elkin), who likes to have sex with him while dramatically topping him and his young babysitter Lisa (Liane Balaban).

There is the strange introduction of a Van Helsing-type vampire hunter character about two thirds of the way through movie. Then Pope is off to Venice to track down Elizabeth. But is it to avenge the murders of the women in his life or because he has become obsessed with her?

I think it is because the filmmakers wanted to hang out in Venice on the production company dime. Which is fine, there are gorgeous shots of the city of Venice with its confusing streets and charming gondolas.

The finale is somewhat gory but does involve more nubile, scantily clad young women.

Willhelm Liebenberg and Federico Sanchez wrote, directed, and produced this film. It is both men’s debut film work, and they did a pretty good job except for trying to market this as a queer film when the main character is a straight guy and the entire movie comes across as puff porn lesbianism for straight men to watch. There is an intriguing claim in the press materials that states the story is based on real-life events.

Be aware that there are some very graphic portrayals of heterosexual sadomasochistic sex acts, lots of nudity, some subtitles, and of course puncturing and blood sucking.

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