AKA Meridian: Kiss of the Beast, Phantoms
Starring Sherilyn Fenn, Malcolm Jamieson, Charlie Spradling, Hilary Mason, Phil Fondacaro, Vernon Dobtcheff, Alex Daniels, Vito Passeri, Angelo de Bianchi, Salem Badr
Directed by Charles Band
Expectations: Low. This one looks kinda cheesy.
On the general scale:
On the B-Movie scale:
I rarely know much about these films before watching them, in an effort to remain open-minded and free from pesky expectations. In the case of Meridian, I had only seen the poster. It gives off something of an erotic, Gothic vibe and surprisingly, that’s exactly what Meridian is. And it’s good! Imagine that. Meridian is something completely different for Charles Band and I for one welcomed the change readily. Too many times I’ve sat down to a Full Moon film devoid of plot, FX and entertainment for the sake of reviewing all of their films, but Meridian was actually quite enjoyable to watch.
Without giving too much away, Meridian is about a girl, a castle and a centuries-old mystery that surrounds them both. It’s more of a Gothic romance than a real horror film, but I think horror fans looking to branch out from the everyday slasher film might still enjoy it… I did. The story plays with conventions and expectations just enough to keep you guessing (to a degree), and it continued to surprise me up until the end. It definitely has its missteps and some of the characters/plot points are underused/unfulfilled, but for what it is Meridian was quite impressive. It’s an interesting Full Moon film that stands alone in terms of story and focus, and for that, it’s worth checking out.
The film retains this creepy, mysterious quality throughout and while it is somewhat slow-moving, it’s always entertaining. I wouldn’t want a Gothic romance to be all slam-bang and action-packed anyway though, so the pacing worked for me. The acting was also pretty well done, with Malcolm Jamieson as the travelling magician being the standout performer. Sherilyn Fenn has her stilted, hilariously bad moments, but for the most part she does admirably with the material she’s given. The film is really held together by these two performances, so if nothing else, they were both able to keep the drama and the romance to a suitable level to make the film believable.
And as a side-note, because it doesn’t really fit into the review but I can’t let it go unsaid: during the initial sideshow sequence we see all the members come out and “do their thing.” One guy in particular struck me as odd. He comes out with a bunch of snakes on his arms. The camera cuts away for a bit, and when it cuts back he’s pulling a snake out of his pants. Then the dude bites a giant chunk out of that snake, throws its dead body into the crowd, bows and walks behind the curtain. I’ve heard of a snake charmer, but a snake biter? They might want to think about replacing him.
Next in my trek through all of Empire/Full Moon’s films, I’ll be reviewing the more recent zombie effort that’s soon to have a sequel, The Dead Hate the Living! It’ll probably be in two weeks instead of next week like normal, as I’m still trying to find a good film viewing rhythm after moving.