The Vampirella strip is often drawn with a considerable degree of moody atmosphere. The great disappointment is that Roger Corman has only chosen to lavish one of his customary B-budgets upon the film. The bat transformations and animation are particularly cheap looking. Although, what finally kills the film is Cormans selection of director in Jim Wynorski. Wynorski is one of the hacks of B-budget genre cinema, having made a prolific body of cheap genre films (see below). Wynorskis films are made with a cynicism that invites the audience to treat the exercise with as much contempt as he clearly does. The only virtue of most of these films is a lot of topless women. To Wynorskis credit, Vampirella is better made than the majority of his abovementioned films the film is almost PG-rated, lacks any of Wynorskis usual gratuitous T&A and it is one where at least Wynorski treats the material relatively seriously. That unfortunately only leaves it a slightly better made cheap movie.
The script comes from Gary Gerani, the author of several books on science-fiction cinema, as well as the screenplay for Stan Winstons Pumpkinhead (1988). Gerani is semi-faithful to Vampirellas origin and the basic details of the comic. A certain sense of fanboy fawning overwhelms the exercise Gerani writes in a character called Forry Ackerman and there are film posters and a model head of the robot from Metropolis (1927), Ackermans favourite film. However, what does the film in as an adaptation of the Vampirella comic book though is Jim Wynorskis indifferent attitude. In the comic book, Vampirella cut a provocative figure in her distinctive scarlet red inch-wide one-piece swimsuit. The film more modestly outfits Talisa Soto with a set of plastic red hot pants and a matching top with a ridiculous bat logo. Frankly, one has seen more authentic Vampirellas created by amateurs at cosplay masquerades.
Moreover, the casting of Talisa Soto from License to Kill (1989) and Mortal Kombat (1995) almost kills the character of Vampirella off. Soto is around 52 and lacks anything approaching the spectacularly voluptuous figure that Vampirella is drawn with. While beautiful, Soto seems camera-shy and rarely projects any larger-than-life presence, threat or desirability. Up against her, a ridiculously overacting Roger Daltrey gives an incredibly bad performance.
What is sad about the film is that a Vampirella with a better budget and a better director could have had the potential to be something magnificently Gothic and moody, not unlike say the Tim Burton Batman (1989). The end credits promise that Vampirella will return in Deaths Dark Avenger. One cannot exactly say they are dying with anticipation.
Jim Wynorskis other genre films are:- The Lost Empire (1983), Chopping Mall (1986), Deathstalker II (1987), Not Of This Earth (1988), The Return of Swamp Thing (1989), Transylvania Twist (1989), The Haunting of Morella (1990), Sorority House Massacre II (1990), Sorority House Massacre 3/Hard to Die/Tower of Terror (1990), Scream Queen Hot Tub Party (1991), Munchie (1992), 976-Evil II (1992), Ghoulies IV (1993), Dinosaur Island (1994), Munchie Strikes Back (1994), Sorceress (1995), The Wasp Woman (1995), The Pandora Project (1998), Storm Trooper (1998), The Bare Wench Project (1999), Desert Thunder (1999), Crash Point Zero/Extreme Limits (2000), The Bare Wench Project 2: Scared Topless (2001), Raptor (2001), Thy Neighbors Wife/Poison (2001), The Bare Wench Project 3: Nymphs of Mystery Mountain (2002), Gale Force (2002), Project Viper (2002), Cheerleader Massacre (2003), More Mercy (2003), The Curse of the Komodo (2004), Gargoyle (2004), The Thing Below (2004), Alabama Jones and the Busty Crusade (2005), Bare Wench: The Final Chapter (2005), Komodo vs Cobra (2005), Sub Zero (2005), The Witches of Breastwick (2005), The Witches of Breastwick 2 (2005), A.I. Assault/Shockwave (2006), Cry of the Winged Serpent (2006), Bone Eater (2007), The Breastford Wives (2007), House on Hooter Hill (2007), Cleavegefield (2009), Fire From Below (2009), Vampire in Vegas (2009), Monster Cruise (2010), Dinocroc vs Supergator (2010), The Hills Have Thighs (2010), Camel Spiders (2011), Piranhaconda (2011), Gila (2012), Hypnotika (2013), Scared Topless (2013), Sexually Bugged (2014), Shark Babes (2014), Water Wars (2014), Scared Topless (2015), Nessie & Me (2016), Sharkansas Womens Prison Massacre (2016) and Cobragator (2017).