By JUSTIN MCDEVITT
Starring Cinzia Monreale, Giovanni Lombardo Radizo, and Marina Loi
Directed by Claudio Lattanzi
A virus plagues Italy in the not-so-distant future. Abandoned buildings, destruction, and grim moodiness pervade the land. We know little of our dystopia except for the existence of an epidemic, a silent killer which has ravaged the population. Society does not exist. Cell reception does not exist. A group of military men called “The Exterminators” hunt the infected. Rather than detain, study, or inoculate those afflicted with the virus, The Exterminators crucify them. In CRUCIFIED (aka EVERYBLOODY’S END), there is no vaccine.
Five strangers hide out together in a dungeon. former theology professor Steiner (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) Nera (Veronica Urban) Rossa (Nina Orlandi) and late arrivals Bionda (Cinzia Monreale) and Michael (Lorenzo Lepori). Our quintet don’t waste time getting to know each other. Levity, small talk, and character development are nowhere to be found. As such, CRUCIFIED always lives in climax mode but without any urgency, an unexpected paradox. We learn Michael is a commander working with The Exterminators. This alleged double cross changes swiftly when Steiner notices a tattoo on Bionda’s back. Bionda is a vampire, and not just any vampire: Dracula’s blood courses through her veins. Steiner confesses he is a descendant of Van Helsing, the famous bloodsucker’s equally famous rival. What at first was a dystopian pandemic film transforms into a movie about vampires spreading a virus to destroy all mankind. It is almost as if the pitch meeting for CRUCIFIED went as follows, “Coronavirus, but make it vampires.”
Bionda is patient zero, and now that her secret is out, she can fulfill her mission of infecting the entire population with Dracula’s virus. A highlight of CRUCIFIED is when Bionda rips out Michael’s heart, reminding us of the iconic scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but without the fanfare. She vanquishes Van Helsing’s descendant with ease. She is both our soul survivor and villain. Throughout the film the characters speak of “Il Luogo,” (or, “the place”) a location they have all dreamed of. And Il Luogo is exactly where Bionda wants to go, because this place of dreams is in reality a portal she can access to reach the rest of the population and destroy the human race.
In a dark movie theater screening 1922’s Nosferatu, Bionda walks down the aisle as a projector spotlight illuminates her gown and evil aura. She opens her arms, ready to embrace the cinematic vampire in a hug. The music pounds and torments, reminiscent of Jerry Goldsmith’s score for The Omen. CRUCIFIED ends in a crescendo and we’re left disappointed, not because the film leaves the audience hanging, but because it never does anything with all its potential. A low death count does not make for a bad horror film, but if the conceit of death-by-crucifixion is abandoned halfway through, what was the point? And why crucifixions? Since when do they figure into vampire legend? The acting is efficient and the cast does the best it can with a script lacking in any character development, and CRUCIFIED does have a few haunting moments and a wonderfully moody atmosphere throughout, but this apocalyptic tale is a bloodless entry in both the vampire and outbreak subgenres.
CRUCIFIED is available On Demand March 9th, 2020 from Uncork’d Entertainment