The Chosen One: The Legend of the Raven (1998)

Rating:

USA. 1998.

Crew

Director – Lawrence Lanoff, Screenplay – Khara Bromiley & Sam Rappaport, Producers – India Rose & James Velasquez, Photography – Robert New, Music – Keith Arem. Production Company – Discovery Entertainment

Cast

Carmen Electra (McKenna Bravenight), Debra Xavier (Nora), Dave Oliver (Henry), Shauna Sand (Emma Bravenight), Michael Stadvee (Cole), Tim Bagley (Ricky Dean), Charles Santore (Dougie), Frank Salcedo (Papi), Lawrence Lanoff (The Route 33 Serial Killer), Conrad Bachman (Carl)


Plot

McKenna Bravenight returns to her small desert hometown after the murder of her sister Emma. She is told by her Native Indian father and Emma’s ghost that she is now the Chosen One and must bear the Sacred Crescent to fight evil. She refuses to accept the role but finds she is unable to take the Crescent off once it is placed around her neck. She takes up with her ex, local law enforcement officer Henry. This drives Henry’s embittered girlfriend Nora to crystal meth addiction and whoring herself to her supplier Cole. Cole shoots both McKenna and Nora but the power of the Crescent revives them from the dead. Giving herself over to the power of the raven, McKenna dons a form-fitting masked outfit and dedicates herself to the fight against evil. However, Nora has given herself over to the dark spirit of the wolf and starts to relish hunting and killing, all the while trying to obtain the Crescent and its powers from McKenna.


The Chosen One: Legend of the Raven is an amazing film. It is clearly one of those films that is going to be rediscovered as a trash movie artefact in years to come. What makes it so amusing is that it suffers from an identity crisis that seems to be trying to pack as many diverse genres into one as possible. For a time, it seems to be a psycho film, although the serial killer is then killed off. It is a superhero film, one that offers the intriguing possibility of something like a female version of The Crow (1994) using American Indian mythology. (Although, it is also a superhero film shot on the cheap where the promised apocalyptic battle between good and evil takes place entirely in a small desert town whose population registers in the low double digits. The town itself appears to have been shot on the cheap using someone’s ranch as a location). It is also a white trash soap opera full of amazingly torrid smalltown bitcheries – when sheriff Dave Oliver cheats on her, bad girl Debra Xavier hits the crystal meth and sells herself to drug dealer Michael Stadvee who promptly beats Oliver up, urinates on him, then throws him in the back of his pickup truck where Xavier gleefully has sex with Stadvee, riding on top, while Oliver writhes in agony on the back of the truck.

The Chosen One also wants to be a softcore sex film a la the tasteful porn movies that are made for cable. (Indeed, director Lawrence Lanoff has directed a number of Playboy specials and various other erotic films – see also Temptress (1995), which is equally hilariously trashy). There is an hilarious scene borrowed somewhat from Body Heat (1981) with Dave Oliver, having been mentally summoned, the narrator informs us, smashing a window with a chair to get into the house to unleash his passion for Carmen Electra. There is a later heated scene with Carmen Electra seducing Dave Oliver by standing over him and pouring milk down her leg (even if it is obvious during the ensuing sex sequence that it is a body double standing in for Electra’s supposed nude shots).

The film becomes even more amazing during Carmen Electra’s transformation into a superheroine. As befits most superheroines of the 1990s – Joan Severance in Black Scorpion (1995), Pamela Anderson in Barb Wire (1996), Nicole Eggert in The Demolitionist (1996) – Electra comes decked in a skintight jumpsuit (in silver spandex rather than black leather) and metal studs and gloves, even a chromium football helmet for a mask. Equally, as per Anderson and Eggert, there are closeup scenes of the heroine first putting the suit on where the camera seems to fetishise the way the skintight suit hugs her curves. The dialogue verges on near laughability – when Carmen Electra protests her fate as superheroine, her ghost sister replies “It’s better than being a spoilt, rotten, hot-tempered bitch.” Later Electra bursts into a saloon with the pronouncement “Hello, scumbag.”

The Chosen One is fascinating for its genre-bending of elements – think of a softcore-white trash desert town melodrama-American Indian superhero movie. Throw in names like Troma as distributor and former Baywatch (1989-2001) regular Carmen Electra and you have an instant psychotronic cult classic in the making. As befits a good psychotronic movie, it sits irresistibly just between being a bad movie and the trashily enjoyable.



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