Let’s see, what are we shoving in the blender today? We’re gonna need a full cup of Buckaroo Banzai, four tablespoons of freshly grated Catholicism, and a cup and a half of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. That’s already a pretty interesting base, but we're not done yet. Pour into a bowl and incorporate all the ingredients with two cups of sexploitation and a cup and a half of steampunk. Then, ladle the mixture into a Marvel-lined casserole dish and cover liberally with bright red chunks of blood and guts. Let it bake for an hour and then serve with a side of cheap CGI and some puppets. Sprinkle the plate with bagpipes just before serving, and you're ready. How’s that sound? Is your mouth watering?
After you have eaten your fill and gone to the emergency room to get your stomach pumped, you can tell the doctors that the cause of your abdominal distress was due to feasting on a movie called The Baron Against The Demons. It’s a Spanish film from 2008.
It must have been fun to make. All the steampunk bikinis and murderous bloody puppets just look like a fun way to spend a few weeks. I’m sure some of the cast was annoyed by smelly port-a-potties, or a limited selection at the craft services table, but the whole thing seems to be shot on location somewhere along the rocky coastline of Catalonia, so it couldn’t have been all bad. You get to shoot laser guns and yell meaningless dialogue about redemption, Ragnarok, and the extraction of precious bodily fluids, while fighting off foam rubber foes. What more could you want?
I can’t explain it, but some films just feel like the cast and crew were having a blast. I could be completely wrong. They could have just as easily been miserable, but the film seems to invite you to join in on what looks like a good time. It does go on a bit too long. You keep thinking you’re in the third act, and then some other crisis arises and there is more blood to be squirted, skin to be slashed, and boobs to be swung around.
The first half of the movie uses the score from David Lynch’s Dune. They just go ahead and cut and paste it right in there.The second half of the film features a not-so-skilled musician using a theremin to play Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain. However, they save the best for last. They use Siegfried’s Funeral March by Wagner to score the scene where our hero crawls inside the giant vagina of his foe and confronts the large-breasted fetus that he unwillingly spawned. It’s like some demented GWAR music video.
Then, there are the miniatures and stop-motion sequences. What can I say, they are wonderfully clunky and ridiculous. Some of the miniatures are impressively detailed and painted, but the stop-motion movement is a mess.
There are those who disapprove of movies that knowingly employ over-the-top visuals and campy acting. I would agree that it rarely works (I’m talking to you Lloyd Kaufman), but Richter’s Buckaroo Bonzai was successful and so was Yamaguchi‘s Meatball Machine. I’d say The Baron Against The Demons is not quite as funny as Buckaroo and not quite as violent as Meatball, but occupies a nice middle ground somewhere. Maybe along the lines of Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive (Braindead), but with more half-naked ladies.
The Baron Against The Demons was written and directed by Ricardo Ribelles. It is not easy to summarize the plot or even the premise. It all takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where a cult-like organization called Exorcio Deus Machine is waging a crusade against evil. Their champion is a dude who calls himself The Baron. He’s very stylish with his long white hair and a shiny leather jumpsuit. The evil he is fighting comes in the very curvy form of Lady Pervertvm, who wants to use the Baron’s sperm to make a Ragnarok monster. At least that is what I think is going on, I’m not really sure. There is also this colonel who wants to get the whole thing over with by just dropping a nuclear bomb on everything.
Everyone hacks at each other and the blood flies freely while people exchange philosophical treatises on God and the conflict between good and evil. At one point, The Baron claims to be on a via crucis as penance for his part in helping Satan who lives on Pluto. It’s hard to keep it all straight. To tell you the truth, I watched it a couple of days ago, and already I can barely remember any of it.
On Letterboxd, Cinema Strikes sums it all up thusly, “Like if Warhammer 40k and Kamen Rider mated and gave birth to a Spanish tokusatsu baby with Red Dwarf’s budget.” On the other hand, Chukka-Trok, who gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars, uses a single sentence in their review, “What the fuck is wrong with these people?”
As far as I can tell, this is the only full-length feature film Ribelles made. I hope he makes another.
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