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A beautiful young artist must choose her destiny in this hauntingly sensual tale of love, passion and revenge. Catherine Bomarzini (Sherilyn Fenn) returns to the family castle in Italy after her father's death and gets caught in the web of a mysterious love triangle: a man (Malcolm Jamieson) who is at times repulsive, at others enchanting; and a creature of the night whose gentle eyes and touch reveal his infinitive love and devotion. With the help of Martha (Hillary Mason() her faithful childhood nanny, and the ghost of a slain young girl, Catherine discovers the medieval curse that threatens their lives and only she can dispel.
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Director Charles Band (the Puppet Master, Subspecies, Ghoulies and Trancers franchises) in this more seriously approached, surprisingly good Full Moon romantic fantasy-horror release.
Two attractive American women find themselves in Italy after graduating from art school. Gina (Charlie Spradling; Bad Channels, Puppet Master II, The Blob) is working in art restoration and her friend Catherine (Sherilyn Fenn; Boxing Helena, The Wraith) has just inherited a castle. The castle comes with a curse about some wizard who built the castle and cursed people by turning them to stone--and there are loads of statues.
After enjoying a traveling carnival attraction complete with a dwarf (Phil Fondacaro; Troll, Ghoulies II, The Creeps), strong man, snake charmer, fire eater, belly dancer, magician and other carney weirdoes. Looking for some interesting company, Gina and Catherine invite the performers to dinner, after which they are drugged and sensually "taken" by the magician. But the strange thing is--because, no, we haven't hit the strange part yet--the magician has a twin brother whose werewolf roots become most evident in coitus.
The next morning the girls have little recollection of what events transpired and Catherine's nanny (Hilary Mason; Dolls, Don't Look Now, Robot Jox) is left to clean up the mess. Later Catherine is plagued by visions of a murdered young woman. The nanny reveals that the "vision" is linked to the castle's curse, Gina's recent work on a painting is connected to it, and that Catherine is the next!
The effects and action are the primary weak points of this film. The transformation scenes are mostly reduced to frame shifts between human and werewolf form (i.e., there is not much of an on camera "transformation" at all), the werewolf make-up is unimpressive, the limited action is implied more than really being delivered, and there are no scares. But "horror" wasn't really the point of this film, implied violence was all that was necessary for the story to be effective, and the lack of scares was intentional and not a product of shoddy direction. This is more of a romantic fantasy story crafted by a horrorsmith using some horror elements.
This film revealed that Charles Band is capable of so much more than his campy, gory horror. The sexuality of the magician and his twin tender a strong dichotomy. The magician is cruel, manipulative and lustful whereas his werewolf twin is gentle, protective and passionate. The werewolf offers a more Beauty and the Beast sense of fantasy.
This was surprisingly good! Really.
And if you aren't a fan of those things, then "Meridian" won't have a lot to recommend itself. This movie tries to be both a sexploitation movie AND a "beauty and the beast" gothic romance, but just ends up being painfully slow-moving and incoherent. Not to mention that the constant rape and furry sex completely neutralizes any hint of actual sexiness to be found.
The story follows Catherine Bomarzini (Sherilyn Fenn), an American art student who returns to her family castle in Italy. Then her idiot friend Gina (Charlie Spradling) invites a troupe of wandering magicians to dinner at the castle, led by the arrogant Lawrence (Malcom Jamieson). Then the troupe drugs the two women so Lawrence can rape them, followed by him handing off Catherine to his twin brother Oliver (Jamieson again).
Apparently we're supposed to view THEIR sex as being real lovemaking, but she still seems rather dopey. Oh, and Oliver turns into a werewolf while raping Catherine.
The following day, Catherine begins seeing strange visions from the past -- a dead girl in a flowing white dress, a werewolf (guess who it is!) and a secret passage filled with red light. She also begins to figure out that there is a longtime curse associated with her family, and that Oliver (whom she thinks is the same person as Lawrence) can only be freed by her.
The first half of "Meridian" is pure sexploitation (rape, boobies, Sherilynn Fenn naked), with every possible excuse to show boobs bouncing out of tight shirts. But after our first glimpse of the werewolf, director Charles Band starts trying to turn it into an atmospheric gothic romance with curses, a werewolf, a tormented Byronic hero in flowing white shirts and a mysterious painting. It fails. A lot.
The movie sludges along at a painfully slow pace, with awful dialogue ("I have no world without you") and a lot of things that are never explained (that giant secret passage leading directly into a bedroom? Never explained). It drapes itself with scarlet velvet, moonlight, silver jewelry and shirts straight off of a romance novel cover, but Band can't hide the wretchedly contrived story.
And the climax is fascinatingly ludicrous: a werewolf holding a crossbow is thwarted by a whip-cracking dwarf in Elizabethan garb. I felt like someone had slipped drugs into MY drink.
One of the biggest problems is the rape. Not only does the villain date-rape the heroine and her friend, but it's shot in a slow-motion, erotic manner, as if Band was trying to make it alluring. And it's made even worse because the HERO also rapes her. Yes. While the heroine is meant to be coming out of her drugged stupor, her lack of reaction to having sex with a werewolf shows she was still pretty out-of-it.
Oh yes. There is sex with a werewolf in full furry form, and we're supposed to find it erotic. It's not erotic. It's actually rather grotesque to those without furry fetishes, and it negates any slight hints of sexiness that the movie might produce.
And despite Fenn's decent acting, the characters are just awful. Catherine is a walking blank who reacts instead of acting, and Spradling's entire purpose in the movie is to clean a painting and pick up a crossbow. As for Jamieson's double performance as Lawrence and Oliver (oh, cute), he's a little too excessive as both the evil mustache-twirling rapist and the brooding sad-eyed woobie.
"Meridian" is a disaster in every way -- a rapey sexploitation movie that tries to transform itself into a gothic romance. As anything other than a showcase for slow-motion boobs, it fails.
Catherine Bomarzini (Sherilyn Fenn of Two Moon Junction) returns to the family castle in Italy after her father's death. There she finds herself drawn into a mysterious love triangle with a handsome, sinister magician and a creature of the night whose gentle eyes and touch reveal his infinite love. Is this creature real or an illusion? Guided by the ghost of a slain young beauty, Catherine discovers the ancient curse that enshrouds Bomarzini Castle-a curse only she can dispel.