Alexander the Great. Genghis Khan. Julius Caesar. That idiot Hitler. Even history's greatest conquerors were humbled in the end by the one inevitable, undefeatable foe - death. Even those who control the depths of Hell itself are subject to her whims, so beware man and demon alike, because from the pages of Chaos! Comics rides the demonic diva known and feared as LADY DEATH.
It's war in Hell, where the grim specter of Lady Death prepares her demon army for the final assault on the stronghold of Hell's ruler Lucifer. Seemingly reluctant to send her troops into battle, the Lady's lieutenants understand her hesitation, for Lucifer is the most powerful demon of all. However, the good Lady reminds them of her solemn vow - to utterly destroy Lucifer. She remembers how it all started...
In the medieval world, feudal lord Matthias forces man and boys into his armies to wage his 'holy' wars. Even the priest can't accept his brutality - is Matthias really fighting for God, or his own glory? Meanwhile, young stud Niccolo professes his love for Matthias' daughter Hope, and asks if she will run away from her father's lands with him. Hope refuses, even though she loves Niccolo, because of her obligation to her father. When Matthias arrives, he immediately presses Niccolo into army service and banishes Hope to their castle. Niccolo promises Hope they will always be together, if not in this world, then the next. That night, Hope suffers from disturbing dreams, and fears Niccolo has been killed in battle. In the village, the priest Father Orbec rouses the people to rebel against the tyrant Matthias. The townsfolk storm the castle and invade Matthias' private chambers just as Hope arrives to confront her father. The lord reveals his true nature as Lucifer, the Lord of Lies, and returns to Hell with the souls he's captured, including Niccolo's. Father Orbec blames Hope for the sins of her father and condemns her to the stake. In her cell, Hope is visited by the demon jester Pagan, who tells her she can avoid her fate by calling upon her father's name to save her. Hope refuses, but when she is set afire the next day, Hope invokes the name of Lucifer and is carried away by winged demons to her father's domain in Hell.
Things only get worse for poor Hope. Once in Hell, she is tortured by the fool Pagan to break her will, then brought before her father. The Lord tells her desire is power in Hell, so if she desires, he will free Niccolo's trapped soul if she rules at his side. When she refuses, Lucifer throws Hope out of the window in his throne room. Spit out of Hell's raging river after a harrowing ride, Hope comes face to face with the unnamed wolves. But now she is fueled by hatred for her father and the desire to destroy him gives her the strength to tame the wolves. Hope gives up on Hope, and becomes Lady Death. Finding an ally in Hell's former weapons builder Creamator, Lady Death begins the long process of training to conquer Lucifer. But does even Death have the power to hold sway over the supreme ruler of all Hell?
The movie LADY DEATH must be aimed directly for the 14-year-old male market, or perhaps those who believe "Heavy Metal 2000" is the greatest animated film since the original. There are mucho shots of the skimpily clad Lady chopping down demonic hordes in gory detail, but not much done to get anyone to actually care about the character. The story is chock full of every 'doomed romance' clicheacute; and takes forever to move along. Lady Death must say, "I will destroy Lucifer" at least 100 times - and the dialogue doesn't get more involved than that folks. You could watch LADY DEATH playing "guess the next line" and be right most of the time. The animation is strictly TV grade - flat and routine like the story. However, the background art is very detailed and adds a dimension sorely lacking in the character animation. Color is used well with the albino Lady distinct against the darker backgrounds and against the red/black/gray palette used for Hell and its creatures. The picture quality itself is fine, with strong clean lines and as mentioned complex backdrops. Sound is clear and distinct - the classical bits of music really thunder in Dolby Surround. The voice acting is nothing special, but then again, the dialogue the actors had to work with was uninspired and routine to begin with. I have not read the Lady Death comics, but I surely hope they are better at defining the character and bringing life to Death than this film.
The DVD of LADY DEATH has a few nice extras included. There is a short featurette called Visions of Hell - basically an art gallery of the exquisite backgrounds (hellscapes) and the characters (showing their evolution). A feature explores the LADY DEATH animation process, and you also get the obligatory previews and website information. There is an optional director's commentary - which adds insights and dimension that should have been part of the film!
LADY DEATH is one of the most recognizable females in the world of comics - even non-readers of her books know the name. However, justice is not done to the good Lady in this slack clicheacute; story of her origin. A major disappointment. Perhaps the Lady herself should visit the producers to remind them of the true power and the glory that is LADY DEATH.