Quite clearly nothing to do with the, er, 'much-loved' BBC sex and sangria soap of the nineties, this forthcoming presentation from British outfit Breakdown Films Ltd witnesses the birth of a new genre hybrid - the '3D Horror Comedy Western Musical Road Movie', no less. Although touted as the first ever British 3D movie (it isn't: that was Pete Walker softcore romp Four Dimensions of Greta way back in 1972), Eldorado in 3D is much more notable for its almost unbelievable assemblage of cult genre veteran actors.
Blade Runner and Splash star Darryl Hannah is top-billed as 'The Stranger', quickly followed by the statuesque former Stallone-wrestler and Red Sonja actress Brigitte Nielsen, and a bone fide cult legend; the great Kung Fu, Death Race 2000 and Kill Bill star David Carradine in supposedly his last role before his tragic death, shortly after participating in the film in 2009. The film also includes turns from Reservoir Dogs heavy Michael Madsen, Sleeping with the Enemy and Patriot Games maniac Patrick Bergin and everyone's least favourite Doctor Who, Sylvester McCoy, as an Adolf Hitler wannabe called 'General Zwick'.
Think that must be it? Think again. The cast also includes Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2's 'Chop Top' himself, Bill Moseley, one time Cocoon and Police Academy megastar Steve Guttenberg (remember him?), The Stud and Cobra Mission's Oliver Tobias, singer and Salem's Lot / Starsky & Hutch actor David Soul, Lawnmower Man and Body Parts star Jeff Fahey, and, more interestingly, the marvellous Caroline Munro of Dracula AD1972, Starcrash and Maniac. As if this weren't enough – and it probably is – the film is also graced by the presence of Bad Manners frontman Buster Bloodvessel (who also provides some of the film's original music), Red Dwarf's 'Kryten', Robert Llewellyn, make-up FX legend-turned-okay-actor Tom Savini, the formerly household-name alternative comedian Rik Mayall and, last but certainly not least, that Confessions of a Window Cleaner and Horror Hospital ragamuffin Robin Askwith! And, to cap it all off, would you believe that the film's 'Narrator' is none other than the legendary Peter O'Toole? No, I probably wouldn't either if I hadn't seen the trailer with my own eyes. But more on the trailer later...
It's a pretty amazing cast on paper, that's for sure. However, one suspects that far more screen time than any of the above named actors will be given over to virtual unknowns Darren Moore and Stephen Crain as the 'Rosenblum Brothers', named Stan and Ollie (sounds familiar) respectively, the main protagonists of this multi-genre-mashing romp. In the story, the brothers' stock in trade is a Blues Brothers tribute act by the name of 'The Jews Brothers' (snigger).
When their manager (Guttenberg) sends them off to what is supposedly a Bar Mitzvah, the boys find themselves instead at nothing less than a Neo-Nazi fundraiser (!) and barely escape town with their lives. Supposedly to make good on this cock-up, said manager offers them another gig in the remote town of 'Eldorado', where the strange inhabitants are set to celebrate their home's 200th anniversary. As the brothers cross paths with a couple of other disparate characters that are also drawn to the town they find that “while these small lives revolve around each other, a bigger power is controlling the action to make their visit to this town one they will never forget”, whatever that means. As the plot thins, it becomes clear that these will be no ordinary bicentennial celebrations, as the townspeople have a nasty habit of cooking up stray tourists for lunch. It seems the boys had better get their asses out of town quick-smart if they want to avoid becoming the main course of their celebratory nosh-up.
This all sounds pretty familiar (as well as rather fun) until one remembers that Eldorado is a musical, prompting images of an unlikely hybrid between The Blues Brothers, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and H.G Lewis's 2000 Maniacs. The film is written and directed by one Richard Driscoll, a former TV actor who appeared in an episode of It Ain't Half Hot Mum in 1981, and Brit TV adaptations of Jamaica Inn and The Master of Ballantrae, amongst others, and has more recently moved into low-budget DTV genre film production. Here he writes, directs and stars, acting under the nom de plume of, oh, 'Stephen Crain'. The most 'well known' of these has to be the universally derided serial killer opus Kannibal (2001), which is strictly for Linnea Quigley or Eileen Daly completists only. I know you're out there, people...
Where Rocky Horror and Little Shop of Horrors contained all-original songs, Eldorado appears to take its cues from The Blues Brothers, using many of the Motown hits that were featured in John Landis's classic, along with a few other choice numbers like 'Man of Constant Sorrow' from the Coen Brothers' brilliant Oh Brother, Where are Thou? These cover versions appear to be sung and performed by a collection of fine session singers and musicians – but then, if the trailer is anything to go by, mimed to by the name stars in very long, turgidly presented static shots. Now, of course, lip-synching is common practice in filmmaking, as filmmaking is after all the art of illusion, but never has it looked so obvious as it does in the cringeworthy snatches seen in Eldorado's trailer. There doesn't seem to be much of the promised gore on display, either.
It seems that the the amount of money that must have been lavished on the all-star cast (unless maybe Driscoll called in a few favours?) could have been much better employed in post-production, as the shot-on-digital-DTV look has never been known to do a film any favours. However, if you're a fan of any or all the impressive ensemble cast, then such an assemblage must at least have the curiosity piqued. In fact, I defy anyone who's been a horror movie fan for any number of years to not be at least slightly tempted to investigate Eldorado for themselves. And, of course, it goes without saying that final judgements shouldn't be made until the film itself has been seen in its entirety.
'Like Mamma Mia for Horror Fans!' screams the trailer. Perhaps the makers are a trifle over-optimistic about the film's reception with this last statement, but I guess there's never been anything wrong with thinking big. Whatever its eventual fate (release has been delayed since the film's completion in 2010) many may lap it up simply for the opportunity to see former, in some cases A-List, movie stars making complete dicks of themselves. Hell, look at Celebrity Big Brother. Actually, no, don't. Others perhaps may just like the idea of a gore-splashed Blues Brother singalong with some familiar faces to enjoy with a few beers. Only time will tell.
Eldorado in 3D becomes available on Blu-Ray and DVD on January 30th 2012, both in 2D and 3D versions, with two pairs of old school glasses provided with the latter. Follow their marketing guys on Twitter @Eldorado3D or at eldorado3d.com for updates and information on screenings.