First, what is most striking to me about Tales from the very top is the level of dedication that Albert Pyun and everyone involved in this production are putting forth. The trailer alone was done with care and shows lots of fantastic images, intriguing situations, weird special effects and a Tony Riparetti song that is damn near perfection. I don't think that Tales will be the ultimate sword and sorcery film. I don't think it will be the ultimate vampire film. But I do think that this film has the potential to be the ultimate Albert Pyun film, and for me that is more intriguing than making a picture that adheres to any single genre.
The Pyuniverse started out because I'm intrigued first by the ability to spot Pyun's work from a mile away-at least for his fans-no matter the genre. Science Fiction, Kickboxing, Science Fiction Kickboxing, Tim Thomerson getting slapped multiple times by a tiny gymnast ass kicker, Tim Thomerson the size of a human thimble kicking ass, Snoop Dogg the Ghost(??) or a barbarian with a tri-bladed sword...it really doesn't matter. Pyun has a vision-and while he will be the first to admit, and sometimes I think he sells himself short, his mental reach sometimes exceeds his physical grasp thanks to the harsh realities of making movies in an age where it is better to crank out a sequel to a dancing cheerleader film or a slasher than a film that straddles the line between ballistic madness and thoughtful neo-samurai cinema. The vision seems to be coalescing.
Bulletface blew my mind...I admit it. A storm of appreciation for everything he has accomplished, regardless of the brickbats of people that have accomplished less (like myself for example), was whipped up. It inspired me to see a filmmaker that has straddled the line between commercial and personal so many times-never afraid to go straight to your wallet with the stories you want to see...but to tell them the best way he could straight out of his head and in to your video machine of choice. It inspired me to start writing again...and it inspired me to hope that Victoria Maurette gets to be a huge star, but that is entirely a different point. Bulletface was also the filmmaker stepping out of line in an intriguing way-self made, self released, self marketed and a story that only he could have pulled off. A noir comics explosion done on a micro-budget? It works...and it certainly set the table for a shot at doing a completely self contained release of what could be the ultimate Pyun film. Familiar tropes...strange takes...
So, the trailer itself...what did I think? I really loved it in the same way I really enjoyed the Inferno edition of Left For Dead. It tells you it is something, and then becomes something utterly unique. A companion to his first major spectacle, The Sword and the Sorcerer, TALES is something I figured would leave no swash unbuckled and no entrail safe from being strewn all over the screen. I hoped for all the quirky humor of Nemesis to collide with all the uncertainty of what COULD even come next that films like Deceit deliver..but mostly I expected to see beautiful men and women battling to the death. I got that, but not the way I thought I would. Emotional beats. Epic moments that I can't wait to slot in to my own imagination in the context of the film. The trailer is very pure Pyun. In my humble opinion it could use a little more action to bring in the undecided, but this viewer was plenty pleased.
Then again, I work on a blog called THE PYUNIVERSE (an extension of one of my little dream projects of writing a book on the director's career)--so I'm a bit pre-sold. Victoria Maurette gets the best red band moments, but I am really looking forward to seeing Kevin Sorbo here. Mind you this is only impressions from the trailer, but I couldn't help but think of Fritz Leiber's FAFHRD AND THE GRAY MOUSER bouncing around in a fantastical late 80s Wuxia film complete with flying vampires. I'd love to see a hopper in there...
I harp on it a lot, but after being knocked around by the images it sounds to me like Tony Riparetti has taken up the gauntlet and forged one of his scores that supply the aural glue to every sequence in the best of the films he has collaborated on. Swords, Sorcery and Synthetic Pulse Pounding? Well, it isn't traditional, but it sounds amazing. I can't wait to listen to this film with as much attention as I put towards admiring Melissa Ordway as she punches people about!
So...I'll see you ALL there when our limited editions arrive I hope...onward in to the breach for what may be the reflection of pure Pyun conception.