STUDIO: Columbia Tristar Home Video
MSRP: $24.96
RUNNING TIME: 90 Minutes

The Pitch

“It’s Beauty and the Beast set in the age of the Vikings! Also, I hear those Lord of the Rings films are kind of popular with the kids so let’s try to copy them.”

The Humans

David Dukas, Jane March, William Gregory Lee and Justin Whalin

The Nutshell

Thorsson is the leader of his Viking tribe and wants to go on one last adventure before he hangs up his pillaging gear for good. He leads a group of soldiers to the isle of the beast where the god Odin has placed a vicious monster. The journey may not have been the wisest decision, as the beast makes quick work of the Vikings. The beast places Thorrson in captivity. A few Vikings bravely run away from the battle and sail back to their home. One of the fleeing Vikings is Sven, who is the next in line to rule the tribe. When he returns to the tribe, Sven claims that Thorrson has been killed and takes control of the throne.

Some of these fursuits are starting to get out of hand.

Freya, the daughter of Thorrson, doesn’t believe Sven’s story and journeys to the island of the beast to save her father. She encounters the monster but instead of fighting him she makes a bargain to take the place of her father in exchange for his safety. In her new life as the beast’s captive, Freya gradually begins to see the man underneath the beast and develops feelings for him. Will the power of Freya’s love be able to redeem the beast? You’ll have to see the movie to find out. That is, unless you’ve already seen one of the million adaptations of this story before. But have any of those adaptations had Vikings in them? I think not.

The Package

Hey, it’s a Lord of the Rings movie! The DVD cover art has several people in medieval clothing in the exact same poses as the Lord of the Rings posters! And the font for the movie title is the same as well! All it needs now to be a real Lord of the Rings film is for Christopher Tolkien to bitch about it!

The film itself is presented in 1.33:1 full screen. The transfer is grainy and washed out like a second generation VHS tape. A few trailers for other direct-to-video titles are included in the features. The trailers have better production values than many of the films they promote.

The Lowdown

This movie was filmed in 2003 as an adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. In fact, the original title of the film was simply Beauty and the Beast. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King was also released in 2003 and sword and sorcery films officially became in vogue. Of course, no fantasy fan is going to rent some sissy film like Beauty and the Beast so the title had to be changed to something hardcore – preferably something referencing blood or beasts.

When a Do Not Disturb sign just isn’t enough.

It’s a shame that the marketing around the film is trying to put Blood of Beasts next to such fantastic films because the movie is entertaining in its own right. It’s not far removed from the direct-for-television fantasy movies produced by the Sci-Fi Channel, but it’s still well made. What few elaborate sets the film has are quite intricate and while they may not be historically accurate to the Viking time period they look cool.

The beast costume is the sort of design that looks stupid out of context but works within the context of the film. The beast and beauty relationship is well acted but given absolutely no time to develop. The pacing is so rushed that it feels like it’s in fast forward mode. One minute the two meet, the next minute they’re in love. The relationship isn’t helped by the fact that Freya can’t determine the true identity of the beast, a plot point that most viewers can figure out three minutes into the film.

Blood of Beasts reminds me of the fantasy rack at bookstores – row after row of fantasy novels that all look exactly the same as the others with ridiculous painted covers of muscle bound men fighting dragons alongside females that ride into battle in their underwear. Blood of Beasts isn’t a bad fantasy film but it doesn’t do anything to distinguish itself. No matter how much the film tries to ape Lord of the Rings, it’s destined to fade into the mass of similar titles on video shelves, just like its literary brethren.

4.0 out of 10