“Night of the Templar” (2013): A New Cult Classic?

night-of-the-templar

Review summary: What would you get if you mixed equal parts of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (including the sweet transvestite), the Kill Bill trilogy, and Kingdom of Heaven?

movie poster

NIGHT OF THE TEMPLAR poster (source: official movie website)

Produced, directed, and written by: Paul Sampson

Starring: Paul Sampson as Jake McCallister and Lord Gregoire; David Carradine as the Shopkeeper; Udo Kier as Father Paul; Norman Reedus as Henry Flesh; Billy Drago as Shauna the Chef; Max Perlich as Benoit; Nick Jameson as Lord Renault; Ingrid Sonray as Amy; Sofie Norman as Celine; Mary Christina Brown as Japoniko; Lisa Gleave as Ashley; Hrach Titizian as Melkon; Assaf Cohen as Menas; Gregg Lederman as Koko; Jack Donner as the Grandmaster.

Plot Summary: Murdered during the Crusades by traitorous fellow Knights Templar led by Lord Renault, who wants to keep for himself a hoard of gold taken from the Saracens, Lord Gregoire returns 700 years later as Jake McAllister to make good on his dying oath to avenge his killing and those of his loyal subordinates. Meanwhile, the band of apostate Knights has reached the last of the ten depraved lifetimes that were granted by the Devil in return for stealing the gold and killing Gregoire. Knowing that Gregoire’s time has come, contemporary devotees of the Knights set up McAllister, an actor, as the coordinator of a fantasy adventure weekend at a European castle. This event brings together all of the key players from the Middle Ages in their present incarnations. The stage is set for Gregoire to exact his revenge. As the film’s tagline declares, “They had their time . . . now it’s his.”

Commentary: The plot summary makes this movie sound more serious than it is. It moves back and forth between a campy contemporary present and a more serious medieval past. The former draws on horror comedy and erotic slasher films, while the latter mirrors epic medieval drama. Believe it or not, it’s a mixture that works. The story-line connects the two periods in a believable fashion, while the device of Gregoire’s armored helmet allows the audience to see how the contemporary characters match up with their medieval personas.

Sofie Norman and Mary Christina Brown

Sofie Norman as Celine and Mary Christina Brown as Japoniko in NIGHT OF THE TEMPLAR [image via IMDB]

Sampson cleverly has the three of the traitors (Brown, Norman, and Gleave) and one ally (Sonray) appear in their final reincarnations as females, providing the eye candy that is one of the two “requirements” of a Hollywood movie. The other required ingredient, violence, is in plentiful abundance, as Gregoire/McAllister enacts his vengeance with blood splashing and spraying all over the place.

David Carradine and Paul Sampson

David Carradine and Paul Sampson in NIGHT OF THE TEMPLAR

This is one of David Carradine’s last films, one in which he gives a performance similar in quality to those of the Kill Bill movies. Udo Kier is delightfully slimy as Lord Renault’s reincarnation as a deviant Catholic priest. Billy Drago and Max Perlich are hilarious as a transvestite chef and his shirk-work butler lover. Although sometimes the viewer’s credence is stretched a bit thin, Sampson’s strong performance is the glue that holds this pastiche together.

Billy Drago and Max Perlich

Billy Drago and Max Perlich in NIGHT OF THE TEMPLAR [image via official movie website]

The bottom line: If I were you, I would see this movie now (via iTunes or on DVD) so that you can be one of the cognoscenti when the college-age movie fans get hip to the film and start packing their local art-house theaters to see it.

Frisco Kid’s rating: 4 stars

Film Facts (from IMDB):

  • MPAA Rating: unrated
  • Runtime: 101 min
  • Color: Color