The Spooktacular Eight #6: Dominator: The Movie (2003)

Are you ready to rock and roll with the most unknown Spawn-rip off you never heard?

Are you ever heard of “brit-manga”? Me neither, but apparently Dominator was the “new wave of brit manga animation”, according to what the front cover of the UK DVD release claims.

Yeah, this is some rare shit indeed, an animated movie that involves familiar names in the horror sphere like Doug Bradley, Ingrid Pitt, and metal bands like Cradle Of Filth providing not only the music but the voice acting, based on a series of british comics by Tony Luke, one that was still ongoing in 2006, but has since then been in hiatus.

What the hell it’s about? I’ll copy paste the synopsis on Wikipedia:

Lord Desecrater has defeated Lucifer as the ruler of Hell, but Desecrater’s general, Dominator, has rebelled and stolen the Key to Hell to prevent Desecrater gaining control of the realm. On Earth, the daughters of an exorcist by the name of Dr. Payne accidentally summon Dominator to Earth by playing the forbidden Lost Chord. Dominator is soon followed by three of Lord Desecrater’s soldiers; Decimator, Extricator, and his former lover, Lady Violator. Dominator must prevent Lord Desecrater coming to Earth at all costs, while battling the many demons that are emerging from the hole that has been torn between the two realms.

Aside from feeling like this movie kinda expects you to have some familiarity with Dominator as a series, this indeed couldn’t feel more inspired by Spawn if it tried, and i feel the huge media push the series had in 1997 and following years, with the movie, animated series, toyline, videogames and etc… definitely has something to do with Tony Luke try his hand as directing an animated movie adaptation, produced by his own animation studio, Renga Media.

It’s allegedly the first british CGI animated movie, done with relatively simple programs on an Apple Mac back in the day…. and let’s say time has not been exactly kind to early 3D animation.

I often joke of seeing crappy CG in 2010s movies looking like it belongs in a late PS1 era videogame, but Dominator killed that mediocre comparison forever for me, as this one does indeed look like a movie made of PS1 era cutscenes. The voice acting it’s around that quality as well, but you can also pick up a lot of “Lula 3D” vibes from the humans CG models. Maybe it’s me.

Aside from Spawn, you can tell there are anime inspirations channeled into Dominator… if you can find them in the incredibly over-designed characters that smash together swords, masks, bone guitars, devil wings and every piece of metal iconography into a frankly hilarious results, and i kinda love it, it’s so fucking ridiculous, especially the demons, like the pterodactyl with a human skull planted on a reptile head. XD

But even the animesque bits are no secret, since one of the main antagonist, Lady Violator, is credited as designed by Yasushi Nirasawa, mostly known for his villain designs on various Kamen Rider series, but also creature design for Amon: The Darkside Of Devilman, so it’s “legit”.

Yes, the animation by now it’s incredibly primitive to the point of being hilarious, but the designs are a laugh in themselves, as they clearly are done in earnest, you can tell they tought this was incredibly cool back then, but were also aware of how stupid it looks and had fun with it, otherwise i can’t explain stuff like Marshall brand stadium speakers emerging from nothing in Hell.

It’s not good, let’s make that abundantly clear, seen today it just looks like a complete and total joke, but it’s definitely an incredible experience that makes for a pile of fun, weird non-sense and an amazing source of screenshots and Youtube clips out of context, i could easily fill pages of just describing each frame and weird dated effects or composition, the sex scenes (to say nothing of the girls fighting over Dominator himself taking up a big chunk of the plot) or just random shit that keeps happening without explanation, it just happens, like the “bone train” Dominator rides and i guess summons? I have no clue, it’s just one of those that you have to see yourself to believe.

At least the narrative it’s simple enough that you can understand it despite the… well, everything, the music is good in a cheesy way, the mostly bad dub with british slangs it’s funny, and it’s quite the interesting animation relic from the early 2000s.

Or should say, quite “brutal”.

Believe it or not, this wasn’t the only animated piece about Dominator, as two short films followed in 2004 and 2005, the latter being a crossover with characters from Heavy Metal, fitting titled Heavy Metal VS Dominator.

A revamp for the series under the name Dominator X was announced in 2006, but it was delayed to 2007, then 2008, eventually cancelled due to financial troubles, and Renga Media dissolved.

The series creator, Tony Luke, died in 2016 after a long battle with cancer, but he can rest easily because i can’t deny the sincere passion put in the movie (and by extension i suppose the series as whole), and that shines through regardless of how the movie not being good or having aged well, because it’s fun nonetheless.

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