The backbone of the night – News cinema |


Morgan Galen King and Philip Gelatt (director)


18 (certificate)

93 (length)

March 24, 2022 (published)

1 d

Returning to the likes of Heavy Metal – the film and the magazine – and the distinctive artistry of Frank Frazetta, writers and directors Morgan Galen King and Philip Gelatt’s Spine of the Night, has all the required touches of a barbaric fantasy with more magic and violence, a lot of violence. The witch Tzod (Lucy Lawless) has climbed a mountain to find her way to the Guardian (Richard E Grant) in search of the last of the blue flowers the Guardian is protecting.

They fall into a conversation overloaded with purple prose (as is the language of much of the film) as the witch describes her story, the destruction of her home and her blue flowers which includes many fights, the rise to absolute power of one of the Gal-Sur scholars (Jordan Douglas Smith), whom Tzod initially trusts but becomes corrupt, and his death and rebirth, of sorts. So what we have are related stories of the scholar’s rise to ruthless power through the blossoming and the Tzod’s attempts to bring things back to how they were as well as how the guardian is become.

These take the form of invasions, fights and battles, spells and magic with skewered bodies and limbs widely separated from them. It’s a daring quest although there isn’t much intellectual rigor here other than the danger and lure of absolute power and it’s more than likely to corrupt than not. The rotoscope animation is quite murky and looks dated although there are some inspired flashes of imagination and it’s not flawless.

The main weakness however is the story which is a bit muddled and doesn’t quite hold the attention and the dialogue which is a chore and weighs heavily on the ear. However, it’s probably nothing more than a bridge to the inevitable slaughter and the amount of that cannot be overemphasized. Taken together with the abundant nudity, it’s trippy and sinister stuff, though it does about enough to keep the viewer in the distance.

The Spine of Night is available on Shudder


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