Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Every week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie that’s currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every one is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.
Black Death (available on Netflix & Amazon) takes us to jolly old England right around the time of the bubonic plague. Sean Bean and some other badass killers-for-Christ are on a mission to capture an alleged witch who has the patently evil audacity to keep her village plague-free while the rest of Europe suffers. FIENDISH.
Wait a tick: black plague, witches, crusaders…isn’t this that movie with Nic Cage and Ron Pearlman, Season of the Witch? Fuck and no, it is not. That movie was so horrible I couldn’t get past the first ten minutes, and I made it all the way through Sharktopus. It’s a shame vaguely similar backdrops and proximate release dates make it seem like Black Death is a lower budget/non-studio version of Season of the Witch. Black Death is a serious drama wrapped in period horror trappings, complete with a constantly shifting moral compass, clever misdirection, and authentic looking production design. And never once do two characters laughingly bet a round of drinks on who can kill the most infidels.
Perhaps a little surprising: while Boromir Stark’s presence obviously looms largest among the no-name cast, he is not the central character. The focal point of the film is a lovelorn young monk, a character that would typically be not only useless and annoying but utterly unnecessary to the narrative. In this story, however, the monk’s emotional journey is engaging and even a little shocking. It’s drives a modest but effective movie. Too bad Sean Bean’s star isn’t bright enough to merit a wide release Stateside. If only he’d made a few really awful Ghost Rider movies first.
Added bonuses: well choreographed sword fights and plenty of hideous, weeping plague boils. You didn’t order pepperoni on that pizza, did you?