Eternal (2004)

Story: “400 Years Ago, She Seduced And Killed 650 Women To Bathe In Their Blood. It’s Happening Again.” In modern day Montreal, vice detective Roy Pope’s (Conrad Pla) wife goes missing after she goes to meet a mysterious woman known only as ‘Erszebet’ she came across in a chat room. When Pope finally gains entry into the monstrous but beautiful estate, he meets two women: the gorgeous Elizabeth Kane (Caroline Neron) and her assistant, Irina (Victoria Sanchez). Elizabeth plays mind games with Pope, teasing him about his wife leaving him to find more pleasure with a woman. But Pope senses there is much more going on with Elizabeth and Irina than meets the eye and sets out to discover the truth. Other women begin disappearing and they all seem to have some connection to Pope – his partner’s wife, with whom Pope was having an affair, his young son’s babysitter – and Homicide Detective Angie Manning (Romano Orzari) begins to suspect Pope of the murders. But, before Pope can be formally charged, he escapes and makes his way back to Elizabeth’s estate, only to discover she has returned to another home she owns in Venice, Italy. There, Pope and Elizabeth have their final standoff, after Pope runs across a bookseller who fills him in on the story of Countess Elizabeth (Erszebet) Bathory and the legend of how she killed young women to bathe in their blood so she would stay eternally young. Elizabeth is finally arrested by an Italian inspector/priest, Thurzo (John Dunn-Hill), who incarcerates her in an Italian monastery where she requests to see Pope one last time. Or is it?
The Film Itself: The first feature film for writers/directors Wilhelm Liebenberg and Federico Sanchez, “Eternal” is a visually stunning film, particularly at the Grand Ball in Venice which many have compared to a similar scene in Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut”. The actors, particularly Caroline Neron and Conrad Pla, are perfectly cast as the beautiful but deadly reincarnation of Elizabeth Bathory (although I wish filmmakers would remember Elizabeth had black hair!) and the seedy and decadent vice cop who bears a striking resemblance to actor Billy Zane. There are quite a few scenes of lesbian sex but nothing is graphic – more erotic. And in the few heterosexual sex scenes, everyone somehow manages to keep most of their clothes on so there is very little nudity. The gore level is fairly low too, more implied than seen except in a couple of scenes. The women surrounding Elizabeth, particularly Irina (Sanchez), are all exotically beautiful and the production design as well as the costumes are stunning. The score is composed by a Canadian artist called MysteriousArt and there are also many classic French songs such as “La Boheme” sung throughout the film. “Eternal” is just one of at least three films about Elizabeth Bathory that are currently in production or soon will be: the visually beautiful “Apocalypse and the Beauty Queen” by former photographer turned film director Thomas Smugala as well as Julie Delpy’s directorial debut in “Bathory” where she will also play The Countess (get that girl a black wig, please!). For Bathory fans, “Eternal” is a film I would recommend for your DVD library as it gives a unique twist to Bathory’s story.
Special Features: Unfortunately, Sony Pictures released “Eternal” with no extras other than English subtitles, chapter selections and previews for other Sony DVDs. A Director commentary would have been interesting as well as perhaps a featurette on the real Elizabeth Bathory but no such luck. – Elaine Lamkin

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