To be honest, I’ve never laid eyes on Spike TV and New Line’s 2006 television show Blade: The Series. I’ve always been a fan of the BLADE films mind you. They’re filled with a-kind-of balls to the wall level of action and arterial spray that very few comic book films manage to put on the screen. So, understanding the direct allure that the movies provide it made little sense to me to watch greedy studio execs try and duplicate that sanguine canvas of painted crimson hues in the watercolor wash banality of television. With that in mind, I still can not speak for what ended up broadcast into fanboys homes in the first (and as it appears, the only) season of the spin-off, but I can tell you that the Extended/Unrated DVD edition of the show’s Pilot episode (newly re-titled HOUSE OF CHTHON) hardly disappoints fevered fans of the vampire slaying antihero.
Producer David S. Goyer believes that the medium of television benefits the universe that Blade occupies because it offers the ability to explore pasts, presents, motivations and manners that exist not only in the world of our hero but in the world of the vampires—this time around imagined as the ultimate incarnation of organized crime. In many ways, Goyer is correct. With a conceivably endless time horizon (that sadly did not come to pass) the creative force behind the show might have been able to truly build a push-and-pull mythology that—like Goyer’s self-proclaimed models, The Sopranos and Wiseguy—confounds audiences forcing them to question where their loyalties ultimately lie. Are the Vampires really as bad as they seem? It’s a valid and interesting theory and THE HOUSE OF CHTHON begins to lay that groundwork.
The film, which takes place sometime after the end of BLADE: TRINITY picks up in Detroit, introducing audiences to the character of Krista Starr (Jill Wagner). Starr has just returned home from active duty in Iraq only to discover that her twin brother Zack has been murdered, in what police describe as a gangland murder. Unable to accept that her brother was caught up in a life of crime, Krista begins to investigate Zack’s past. What she uncovers is an underworld culture of Vampires, lead by a charismatic society patron Marcus Van Sciver (Neil Jackson) who not only wields a great deal of social influence but is also attempting to secretly breed an unconquerable race of “Daywalkers”. With the help of Blade, Krista infiltrates the House of Chthon, but at what peril will her mission place her immortal soul and will she choose the side of darkness or light?
First and foremost, this film is all set up. Sure it has plenty of bloodbaths and, frankly a reasonably excessive amount of violence for a TV pilot, but the nuts and bolts here and standard serial fare. THE HOUSE OF CHTHON lays out some of the BLADE backstory, but not much. Its primary intention is to introduce the uninitiated into the world of the characters through the eyes of a newcomer. This is where Jill Wagner’s Krista comes into play. Krista is the type of no-holds-barred ass-kicking female character that owes her whole creation to Joss Weldon and J.J. Abrams. She’s a tough cookie who seems equally at easy jamming the barrel of a 45 under the chin of a street punk as she is going mano y mano with Blade. Wagner does a great job expressing Krista’s humanity and that is the crux with which this whole series seems set to (forgive the pun) stake itself on. Kirk (Sticky Fingaz) Jones takes over the tattoos and tantos from cinematic personification Wesley Snipes by bringing Blade to the small screen. Like Snipes character, “Sticky” has little to say and makes the most of his TV time exuding charisma from behind a pair of dark-tinted sunglasses and dusting vamps with his James Bond-meets-Men in Black array of shiny weaponry. Blade fans don’t ask for some deep self-analyzation from Blade—they know he’s conflicted, they know he’s on a vendetta and all they really want to see is some serious ass-kicking-fists-of-fury. With Sticky what they get is more of the same and it feels just right.
THE HOUSE OF CHTHON is not where you want to start if you’re new to this character. For one reason, the film has no definitive ending—it’s a prologue for 11-more episodes. Even padded out for feature length, you’re not going to get any sense of closure from this film. There are no resolutions. THE HOUSE OF CHTHON does its job efficiently and correctly—meaning after it’s over it makes you want to watch the rest of the show. The inherent problem that creates at this time is—barring reruns on television, nefarious Internet downloads or bootleg DVD’s at the next ComicCon—there is no way to see the rest of this series. In some ways that very real dilemma tarnishes the overall enjoyment of the Pilot. But, if you can get past that, or face the facts going into the game, then THE HOUSE OF CHTHON more than delivers on it’s promise of a slice-and-dice theatrical BLADE experience meted out to the cable television masses.