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"Lady Death" Reincarnated on DVD

When Hope, unknowing daughter of Lucifer, is killed for her father’s sins, she takes up the offer for a life in Hell rather than experience a horrific death via torching. But as Lucifer is the Lord of Lies, Hope soon learns the true fate of her loved ones, and sets out on a course to gain her revenge. Hope is dead. Lady Death is death reincarnate, leading an army of darkness in the fight for Hell in Lady Death: The Motion Picture, ADV Films’ first foray into animation made-for-America.

Brian Pulido’s Lady Death franchise has had a rocky path so far. Starting with the forgotten Chaos Comics, moving to the now-defunct Crossgen Comics, this movie has been in development for a while, it seems. That’s understandable, considering it’s ADV’s first flick made for American audiences. So now the big question: did they succeed, or should ADV stick to licensing anime?

Let’s do the time-warp and go back to the 1400’s. Hope is a pious woman, content with her boyfriend Niccolo. However, her father, Matthias, is on a rampage and young and peaceful Niccolo is forced into battle, leaving Hope distraught. What she would soon see would change her life forever; walking into her father’s quarters, she sees him with the disembodied soul of Niccolo. He reveals himself to be Lucifer and soon the pitchfork-toting townsfolk come to bust down the door. Lucifer makes a hasty escape, but Hope is accused of witchery and is sent to be burned at the stake.

One of Lucifer’s minions, the Joker-esque Pagan, offers her an escape. Go from one burning inferno to another, doesn’t sound great, right? But when Hope regretfully accepts the deal to travel to Hell, she is not greeted with fire and brimstone, but a bleak and desolate wasteland. After a quick run-in with Lucifer, she finds out that he is torturing her mother and lover. Not much of a threat to the Lord of Lies, she gets thrown out a window real quick, landing out in the barren landscape. It is here she meets up with the Cremator, the blacksmith of the underworld with a grudge against the Devil. Teaming up, he begins to train her, and unleashing her inner power, she transforms into Lady Death. She amasses an army and attains a powerful sword from…

Now, I’m not going to spoil the whole plot for you, am I?

When you boil the story down, there are three main characters- Hope/Lady Death, Cremator, and Lucifer. Lucifer is decidedly one-note, but considering that he’s pure evil, I guess he has the right to be. Cremator could have been fleshed out more, but he’s relatively well-developed for a feature length movie. Hope/Lady Death is really well, er… “developed” (I don’t even know if that counts as a pun), as she becomes the Queen of Hell, you can still remember her origins as a pious young woman. The action scenes are well done, but nothing like other action-packed ADV shows. This is more of a Lord of the Rings style story; you get some good army action, but then you get slow-paced sword fights between evil and evil.

Speaking of slow-paced, the plot is rather slow. Part of me thinks that they should have just trimmed 10 or 20 minutes, the other says that they should have put more in those 20 minutes or have had a more invigorating soundtrack. While the orchestral music fits the style, it never hurts to have a good rock song for battle sequences.

The animation and art style is… eh. The animation itself somewhat stutters- it’s not as fluid as a Disney flick, or even ADV’s other productions. The art style, especially the coloring, reminds me of the recent He-Man series for some reason. The voice actors are all fine; nothing spectacular yet nothing horrid.

As to extras, we get “Visions of Hell,” a featurette on sketches of locations and characters, along with “Animating Death,” an interview with the animators and directors. Turns out a director on this worked on Disney’s Gargoyles and Batman: The Animated Series. Something I’m always glad to see is a commentary track. This one focused on the transition from comic books to near-animé, not always touching on what’s happening on-screen (I would have loved to have heard more stories on Asmodeus’s world, or Hope’s mom, or why Purgatory couldn’t be included). ADV Trailers round the disc out. The disc comes in a standard Amaray case with a special foil-esque insert.

So, how was ADV’s first foray into creating animation for the states? Honestly, I’m not the biggest horror/fantasy buff, but my love of comic books piqued my interest here. The story is solid, albeit somewhat slow. Extras are rather decent. A fan of Lady Death? Go pick it up now. Getting ready for Halloween? This is a good flick to set the mood. Lady Death must rise again.

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