Tuesday, August 16, 2005

NIGHTVEIL: WITCH WAR

NIGHTVEIL: WITCH WAR is another comics adaptation, and another story entirely. This direct-to-DVD production has been described – by its own creators! – as "the PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE of super hero movies." But, not unlike Ed Wood's magnum opus, there's a charming quality to NIGHTVEIL's ambitious incompetence, a pervasive sense of fun that makes watching it a pleasure.

For over twenty years, through his company, AC Comics, writer/artist Bill Black has published Femforce, an independent comic book featuring a crime fighting team of sexy super heroines. These comics have inspired an enthusiastic, loyal following, including a surprising number of female fans who enjoy dressing up as their favorite characters at comic book conventions. One such fan is Mary Capps.

Capps won several costume contests dressed as the Femforce character Nightveil, and this didn't escape Black's notice. He persuaded her to perform in a short video, which eventually became WITCH WAR. The movie was shot on weekends over a long period of time, abandoned once and then re-started as Black came into possession of better video equipment and special effects software. The final result is a nearly incoherent mess that repeatedly betrays its patchwork production, but it's an ambitious mess, and shows considerable promise for future efforts.

The story – as best I can explain it – is this: gun-toting super heroine The Blue Bulleteer (Capps) is whisked away to another dimension by benevolent wizard Azagoth (comic book artist C. Bradford Gorby) where she is taught the magical arts. She returns to Earth wit the new identity of Nightveil, and sets up shop in the middle of the Florida Everglades, only to come into conflict with an evil sorceress (sexy semi-pro actress Maria Paris) over possession of a mystical gem.

The DVD from Smarty Pants Entertainment presents the movie full-frame. The picture and sound quality varies considerably throughout the running time, owing to the nature of the source material. The disc includes numerous bonus features: a short mockumentary on the "Cheeseorama" process (which allegedly turns good movies into bad ones); an on-camera interview with writer/director Bill Black, who goes into some depth about the making of the "film;" an animated text feature that gives the background of the Femforce characters, illustrated with comic book art; and a short film called "Nightveil's Nightmare Theater," which casts the heroine as an Elvira-styled movie host.

I liked this disc, even if I'm not going to say it's good. But it's kinda cool seeing the actual creator of a comic book character personally take on the challenge of adapting their creation to another medium, even if the final results are fall somewhat short of SPIDER-MAN or X-MEN quality.

BUY: Nightveil: Witchwar DVD (Femforce)