International Weirdness : “Madonna : A Case Of Blood Ambition”

Posted: January 13, 2012 in movies
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Some months ago, I recall seeing a survey conducted of viewers of the Fox “news” channel that laid out the peculiar particularities of how this brainwashed set of folks see the world, and while I don’t have the exact survey results handy (and am frankly too tired to google them so you’ll just have to trust me), most of the results were pretty unsurprising — huge majorities felt that “America was always a force for good in the world,” “Barack Obama was probably not really born in the United States,” “White Christians are the most persecuted group of people in our country,” “the rich already pay more than their fair share in taxes,” etc. One question given to, and the subsequent answer given by, these people who consider the likes of Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly responsible purveyors of journalistic truth, however, did knock me for a loop — well over 50% of them (again, the exact number escapes me) apparently believe that “Canadians are envious of the US and wish they were Americans.”

To which all I can say is — go tell that to our northern neighbors and see how many friends you make. I’m betting the answer will be zero. Anti-Americanism has been on a steady upswing in the Great White North for well over a decade now, and not without good reason as we continuously seek to throw our military muscle around in the world and do our level best to bribe/cajole/beg/politely threaten the Canucks into joining us. Sometimes they join in (Afghanistan) and sometimes they refuse (Iraq), but no matter which way their government goes, the net cumulative effect of us constantly trying to get them to go along with our hare-brained military adventurism on Joe and Jane Canada has been a completely understandable (for those of us who don’t watch Fox) weariness at best, and open hostility at worst, toward the United States and our purported “global interests.”

In short, most Canadians are hardly “envious” of us, more or less none of them “wish they were Americans,” and greater and greater numbers of them just wish we’d leave them the hell alone. So for those of you who think it’s a reach for me to be including a Canadian film in our “international weirdness” series here at TFG (ha! just when you thought none of this had anything to do with anything!), let me assure you that Canada is, indeed, a foreign country, and its residents generally pride themselves on this fact — as well they should.

What they probably shouldn’t be too proud of, though, is director Alain Zaloum’s 1990 dull-as-dirt, lensed-in-Quebec “erotic thriller” (marketed in its straight-to-VHS packaging as a horror film, for some reason) Madonna : A Case Of Blood Ambition.

Clearly marketed (to the extent that it even was — Canuck distributor Atlas Video didn’t put much muscle behind promoting this straight-to-video snoozefest, and it barely made it south of the border at all) to cash in on the worldwide buzz surrounding the Queen of Pop’s then-current “Blonde Ambition” tour, this is a listless little tale of a supposed “femme fatale” that couldn’t even crack the Skinemax lineup at the time, even though that’s quite obviously the sort of “viewing platform” it was clearly intended for.

Our story here revolves around a mild-mannered ( that’s polite-speak for hopelessly dull, in case you didn’t know) Montreal (I think) ad executive named Richard (Erik Kramer, in a soul-crushingly lackluster performance that gives “going through the motions” a bad name) who becomes so enthralled by a new client’s ladyfriend, Laura (the reasonably attractive, but not worth trashing your entire home and family life over as dumbshit is about to do, Deborah Mansy — who can at least sort of act, although I doubt she’s doing much of it today) that he soon loses all sense, subsumes himself in their passionless-on-camera-but-supposedly-passionate-on-paper affair (this flick was apparently based on a semi-popular Canadian-grocery-store-shelf romance novel), and tells his wife and kid to take a fucking hike.

There’s just one problem — Laura isn’t really Laura at all, she’s a serial homewrecker/vengeance artist named Francesca Madonna (yes, that’s our only tenuous connection to the Material Girl herself — the main character’s middle name) Leone, who’s selecting the targets of her little adultery-leading-to-murder (she hopes) scheme for one very specific reason. Will Richard wise up before it’s too late? And is he even the real ultimate object of her Machiavellian machinations?

I think a better question here would actually be “should you even care?,” the answer to which, if you have any sense at all, is a resounding “no.” Much as I’m predisposed toward absolutely loving any edited-on-video, direct-to-VHS cheapie that’s blatantly marketed to tie in with something (or, in this case, someone) it’s got nothing whatsoever to do with (and kudos to its US distributors, who had the cajones to just release this festering pile of dreariness under the simpler, but even less honest, title of Madonna), the fact is that Madonna : A Case Of Blood Ambition just doesn’t successfully do anything it sets out to do. For a wanna-be-Shannon-Tweed-style skin flick there’s very little skin on display, what skin there is just isn’t very interesting, and as far as the “thriller”/mystery aspect of the whole story — well, let’s just say it’s supremely uninvolving and leave it at that, shall we?

If you absolutely must see this film and/or have so little regard for my opinion that you figure if I say it sucks then it must have something going for it, then you’re in luck since Madonna : A Case Of Blood Ambition has just been released on DVD paired on a double-bill with another early-90s-Canadian-made DTV less-than-favorite, Voodoo Dolls, as part of Code Red’s Maria’s B-Movie Mayhem series hosted by former WWE sorta-star Maria Kanellis. Extras are sparse (unless you count Maria’s intros and a few Code Red trailers as “extras” — oh, and let’s not forget her music video for her debut single, “Fantasy” — or, rather, let’s), and both films look like pretty poor straight-from-VHS full-screen transfers (although in fairness Voodoo Dolls does look a little bit better), but of special mention here is the sound quality on these two flicks — it’s absolutely horrible! The mix is 2.0 stereo and you have to crank your receiver (or TV) way up to even hear any of the dialogue, it’s buried so far back behind the lame musical score, extemporaneous background noise, etc. Seriously, this is as unprofessional in the sound department as it gets, which is a real disappointment since Code Red usually does a great job with this stuff.

Then again, maybe they’re just trying to spare you,given that if you leave the volume at a normal level, you really won’t hear anything at all — but you won’t be missing much.

  1. Aaron Babcock says:

    If you’re gonna be tawdry, you gotta go all the way. Or at least, that seems to be the lesson to take from this flick.

    • trashfilmguru says:

      Frankly, my friend, I’m not sure there are any lessons to be taken from this film at all! But it’s an interesting slice of times gone by in its own way. What’s worse than an early-90s Shannon Tweed made-for-VHS-rental-and-cinemax-late-night-showings movie? A low-budget Canadian knock-off trying to do the same thing without Shannon Tweed (or any of her closest imitators) and with an even lower budget than most of those Tweed-featuring “erotic thrillers” had. I wouldn’t recommend purchasing it, much as I believe in supporting Code Red DVD, but if somebody ever slaps it up on YouTube for free, it’s worth a look.

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