July 31, 2014

SUMMER OF BLOOD, Day 61: Deathdream (1972)

Directed by Bob Clark. Starring John Marley ("Charles Brooks"), Lynn Carlin ("Christine Brooks"), Richard Backus ("Andy Brooks"), and Henderson Forsythe ("Dr. Philip Allman"). Rated PG.

Source: Region 1 DVD (Blue Underground)
Running time: 01:28:00
Country: Canada, UK

The middle-class Brooks family gets news of their son, Andy, dying while serving in Vietnam. Needless to say, they're shocked when Andy arrives home in full service dress later that night. He came back a changed man, though. The innocence he presumably once possessed is now gone. He's a cold, numb shell of his former self, almost robotic in his behavior. Andy's father soon becomes concerned, whereas his mother sees Andy's lack of emotion from a different perspective - a more nurturing, "motherly" point of view for lack of a better word, with the father figure (a veteran of World War 2) a bit more strict and demanding in his approach to parenting. There's a lot to be said about how the parents contrast each other as far as their expectations of their only son.

In the meantime, the local cops find a dead body who was clearly murdered, as evidenced by the deep wound across his neck. Without getting into details, things take a violent and disturbing turn at the Brooks household. It puts an exclamation point on the fact that Andy is clearly not the same person he once was. Of course we as viewers already know this, but we're just waiting to see how the family reacts and whether or not they take action.

DEATHDREAM (also known as DEAD OF NIGHT) essentially turns into a slasher with an undead element to it. It's not your typical "body count" slasher, though. The slasher element is there but it's consequential, meaning the film doesn't set out to be a slasher. But, most importantly, it's a commentary on PTSD under the guise of a horror movie - and a brilliant one at that.

One of the things I love about this movie is the vagueness of Andy and how he's presented. In lesser hands, there would be some big info-dump that over-explains everything so that the viewer is fully aware of what's happening at all times. DEATHDREAM, however, is a film that has a lot of confidence in its audience to use their common sense and just enjoy the movie for what it is.

DEATHDREAM isn't a fast-paced movie, similar to director Bob Clark's BLACK CHRISTMAS (which I'm admittedly not a huge fan of), but I dig this movie for a number of reasons, mainly because of the incredible transformation Andy undergoes in the back end of the film and also because of the vagueness I mentioned earlier; the film shows you enough as it's moving along but it leaves you in anticipation for the most part. And, fortunately, this is a movie that delivers in a major way once the smoke has settled. The film also has some good atmosphere and I liked the cast all across the board. John Marley in particular is great as Andy's father and Lynn Carlin has some moments towards the end where she gets to really shine. There are also some unexpected moments of disgusting Body Horror that tie into the undead element. Overall, this is a rock solid horror film and one of the best of its decade in my opinion.

Score: 8

July 30, 2014

SUMMER OF BLOOD, Day 60: The Howling: Reborn (2011)

Directed by Joe Nimziki. Starring Landon Liboiron ("Will Kidman"), Lindsey Shaw ("Eliana Wynter"), Ivana Milicevic ("Kathryn"), and Jesse Rath ("Sachin"). Rated R.

Source: Region 1 DVD (Anchor Bay/Starz)
Running time: 01:32:02
Country: USA, Canada

I'd heard nothing but negative things about THE HOWLING: REBORN prior to seeing it, but I purposely avoided the warnings. I love werewolf movies. And I mean legit werewolf movies, not homoerotic shape-shifter movies that pander to single women who fantasize about being Bella from TWILIGHT. I don't give a fuck how bad they are, I'll watch me some werewolf movies. And, seeing as I haven't covered any during the Summer of Blood, it gave me an excuse to check this one out.

Apparently this was based on the HOWLING II novel, which I haven't read. I've seen the movie quite a few times, though, and this has nothing in common with THE HOWLING II aside from a Sybil Danning-esque character. The lead character in REBORN is a teenage boy named Will, and the film opens with him seemingly breaking the fourth wall and giving instructions to the person he's addressing in his monologue that involve killing him. We then get a flashback to the moments before he was born of his mom getting killed by a person who looks like a cult member. The film then cuts to present day (presumably going backwards in time from the opening monologue), and we see that Will is a high-school student who's on the verge of graduating. He's sort of an outcast with no enthusiasm about life whatsoever. Suddenly the mysterious figures from his mother's past are resurfacing in his life - or, at least he's at a phase in life where the mysterious circumstances surrounding his mom's death is making him paranoid.

I got a big-time TWILIGHT vibe from this early on because of how it presents something as mundane as high school as a place where brooding, good-looking kids (who may or may not possess supernatural powers) come and go as they please while the pushover faculty members give zero fucks. Speaking of which, it's suggested that the mysterious new kids who enroll right before the school-year ends are a pack of werewolves and they're seemingly grooming Will to be a part of their group. Once a female student named Eliana comes into the picture, REBORN feels a lot more like LOST BOYS than anything HOWLING-related.

High school, blah blah blah, werewolves. THE HOWLING: REBORN is so formulaic. You could easily replace the werewolves with vampires and it would pretty much be the same movie. You have the lead character (Will) who's undergoing some unexplained changes that could be seen as symbolic of anxiety, stress, teen angst, etc. You have the best friend who's the level-headed character and is seemingly made of repellant when it comes to the opposite sex. And of course you have the mysterious love interest (Eliana), who's the bridge between the lead character and the dark side.

So, not only is REBORN formulaic, but it's aware of the fact that it's cliche as fuck. Underneath all of that, though, there's actually some interesting stuff going on. If a filmmaker can take lycanthropy or traditional vampirism and use them as metaphors for something that most people can relate to, they're doing something very right. In this case, the lycanthropy is used in a really smart way, in that the lead character is at a point in his life where he's being pulled in different directions on a personal and emotional level, so the werewolf element and the inherent changes that one goes through when it comes to lycanthropy are very fitting for this character. In a way, teenagers might be the perfect subject when it comes to films that portray vampires and werewolves because they're the most vulnerable to the pressures of society (especially when you're as directionless as Will), and also because they're at a stage where their purity and innocence are dangling by a thread.

For what it's worth, if you enjoy dummy deaths in film, this has a good one. It also has a cool soundtrack, and the werewolf makeup looks awesome. I'm talkin' old-fashioned practical effects and actors in big-ass werewolf costumes - no CGI werewolves. The overall look and tone of the movie is reminiscent of something you'd see on the CW network - specifically THE VAMPIRE DIARIES (so I've heard!). If this movie didn't reek of unoriginality (and if it wasn't such a blatant cash-in on the TWILIGHT craze), it would be pretty decent. If none of that bothers you and all you care about is if a movie is watchable and entertaining, I'd cautiously recommend this.

Score: 6

July 29, 2014

SUMMER OF BLOOD, Day 59: Mr. Jones (2013)

Directed by Karl Mueller. Starring Jon Foster ("Scott"), Sarah Jones ("Penny"), and Mark Steger ("Mr. Jones"). Rated PG-13.

Source: Region 1 DVD (Anchor Bay/Starz)
Running time: 01:23:45
Country: USA

If you're like me and you're a bit apprehensive about seeing MR. JONES because of its PG-13 rating, don't be. That doesn't necessarily mean I'm recommending it though. Keep reading for my explanation. Please?!

Scott and Penny are a young married couple who put the city life behind them and temporarily move out to the country as a means of working on their troubled relationship. Scott is also a documentary filmmaker and Penny is a photographer, so they use their new-found isolation as a way to re-charge their creative batteries. An intended nature documentary that Scott's working on becomes something else entirely once he and his wife discover some strange shit out in the middle of nowhere, but I'll get to that later.

There's a lot revealed right off the bat through a monologue from Scott, like the fact that he was on medication before he moved out the country but stopped taking it, which will surely come into play at some point in this horror movie. Right?! MR. JONES starts out looking like a found-footage movie with Penny behind the camera and filming various random moments of their trip. While there are certainly some found-footage elements in it, it ends up being a straight-forward movie in terms of how its presented, which is kind of a relief. Anyway, about a month or so goes by when they get cabin fever and are at each others' throats. It's also around this time that they start noticing strange things: bumps in the night, a hooded figure lurking in the area and even stealing some of their personal belongings. Their attempt to chase down this hooded figure leads them to a decrepit cabin not too far from where they're staying. Ironically, this discovery is what brings them closer. It also creates a new opportunity for Scott in terms of him wanting to make a documentary.

Turns out the cabin belongs to a character named Mr. Jones. He's an elusive figure comparable to Banksy or the Toynbee Tiles person; he's known for leaving his mark all over the country but no one knows his true identity. And by "his mark" I mean creepy-looking scarecrows that he's sent to at least a handful of people all over the United States. I won't get into it too much, but Mr. Jones has a really interesting story. We find this out through talking-head footage that Scott acquires when he temporarily leaves Penny alone at the cabin and travels around the country (which is pretty fucking brave of Penny considering they broke into his cabin and messed with his shit). These interviews give us the background of Mr. Jones from different perspectives and builds up his mythology, establishing him as a boogeyman of sorts.

Once Scott reunites with his wife after filming some interview footage, what ensues is a series of bad and stupid decisions they make, as well as illogical behavior that borders on retarded. Let's just say that they overstep their boundaries while attempting to expose Mr. Jones and get more than they bargained for. It's at this point that MR. JONES derails and goes from being a refreshing and very promising horror movie with moments of BLAIR WITCH-style creepiness to being cliche and nonsensical in some ways. As someone who became fully invested in the first half of the movie, the second half left me with a serious case of cinematic blue balls.

MR. JONES is surprisingly stylish at times and shot well as a whole. Both lead actors are pretty good aside from some moments toward the end when they had to play scared and it came off as cheesy. The first half of the movie is really good and effectively unsettling - the scenes in particular where Penny is alone at the cabin might be the high points of the movie because of what goes down and how it goes down (and because Sarah Jones is fucking adorable and a joy to watch). As far as the character of Mr. Jones, he's quite interesting for all the reasons mentioned above and he's down-right terrifying when we do get to see him up close. As I watched the first half, I wondered why MR. JONES has some fairly low ratings on IMDB and whatnot; by the end it became pretty apparent why. There's a neat twist on the Mr. Jones character and mythology that's revealed towards the end, but it's simply spraying potpourri on a shit-covered bed by that point.

Score: 6

July 28, 2014

SUMMER OF BLOOD, Day 58: Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2 (2011)

Directed by Robert Hall. Starring Brian Austin Green ("Preston"), Thomas Dekker ("Tommy"), Mimi Michaels ("Jess"), and Owain Yeoman ("King"). Rated R.

Source: Region 1 DVD (Image Entertainment)
Running time: 01:33:14
Country: USA

If you haven't seen the first LAID TO REST, it'll be hard for me to talk about this one without spoiling it, so consider yourself warned.

CHROMESKULL opens directly after the events of its predecessor with its two survivors leaving the scene of a massacre. At the end of the previous movie, we see someone with black gloves picking up the killer's camera (still recording) from off the ground, leading us to believe that the killer himself somehow survived getting his face ripped off. Turns out the person who arrived at the scene and recovered the camera is an accomplice of the killer, played by Brian Austin Green of banging Megan Fox fame. Somewhat noticeably gone is actress Bobbi Sue Luther, who played the nameless Final Girl in the previous movie. I say "somewhat" because the actress who replaced her bears an uncanny resemblance.

Let's just say that "The Girl" doesn't play as big of a part in this movie as she did the last one. Instead, a new Final Girl with an unusual background is introduced. Jess, played by the super-cute Mimi Michaels, is going blind, but she's stoked on the medicinal marijuana that the doctor prescribed her. BLAZEITUP420JESUSBRAH!! She's also a fan of Black Label Society as evidenced by the autographed poster in her room. In fact, one of the strangest traits of CHROMESKULL is that it features a lotta love for Black Label Society. Aside from the aforementioned poster, Jess and her BFF (who's wearing a Black Label Society shirt) smoke dope while listening to Zakk Wylde's band. Maybe director Robert Hall is a fan?

This film also introduces an underground society that works with the skull-faced killer, "Chromeskull", and are on a mission to get him back on his feet and killing again, with the ill-sighted Jess seemingly being set up as his next target for whatever reason. It's hard to picture ol' Chromeskull coming back after what happened to him in the first movie, but he does, and the whole thing is explained in yet another montage-style opening credits sequence. Speaking of which, like the first movie, the opening credits to CHROMESKULL tell a story and showcase a bunch of nasty-looking makeup effects, setting a good tone for what's to come. On that note, the kills in this are just as spectacular and over-the-top as the first movie. You could make a hell of a highlight reel with the kills in this movie alone, which is also a testament to some of the amazing makeup effects on display.

Back from the previous movie is Tommy, played by Thomas Dekker. I bring him up because he's involved in a really strange loose end from the first movie being tied up. Specifically, there's an explanation as to why his eyebrows in the previous movie looked weird, like they were half-way shaved off or something.

What this sequel does, aside from sort of introducing a copycat killer, is pull the curtain back on Chromeskull and kill the mystique of the character, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. There's a lot of explanation regarding his methodical way of operating and his quirks, like the fact that he films his murders as he's committing them. It's through this unveiling that the film unexpectedly acts as a satire of slasher movies. There's also a police procedural element that plays a rather big part in the movie. When it comes to certain slasher movies or franchises, it's always best to maintain some mystique for the killer and not over-explain things, but, in this case, I'm kinda glad they gave Chromeskull a back-story because it allowed more characters to be introduced (one of whom is played by Danielle Harris) and it thickens the plot, whereas the first one was a bare-bones slasher.

CHROMESKULL obviously has a lot more going on and it's not played for laughs as much as the first one. Overall a huge improvement in my opinion. The kills are pretty much on the same level as the first in terms of scale and creativity, but this one inherently edges out the first one in terms of the overall body count. The most important improvement, arguably, is that Bobbi Sue Luther is gone. I love how this sequel resurrects and rebuilds Chromeskull like Frankenstein's Monster and establishes him as this masterful killing machine, whereas in the first one he was just sort of there. And you can tell that actor/stuntman Nick Principe is thoroughly enjoying himself and relishing in the fact that he's playing a character like Chromeskull. Despite not having any dialogue, it shows in his performance.

Score: 6.5

July 27, 2014

SUMMER OF BLOOD, Day 57: Laid to Rest (2009)

Directed by Robert Hall. Starring Bobbi Sue Luther ("The Girl"), Kevin Gage ("Tucker"), Lena Headey ("Cindy"), and Sean Whalen ("Steven"). Rated R.

Source: Region 1 DVD (Anchor Bay/Starz)
Running time: 01:29:55 (Unrated Director's Cut)
Country: USA

This is another Summer of Blood re-watch. Again, I wanted to check out the sequel, which I haven't seen, so I thought I'd brush up on this one. I first saw LAID TO REST when it originally came out and hated it. I remember it for having one of the most (if not the most) annoying Final Girls ever. But, as a slasher fan, I love keeping up with as many as possible, especially if they follow the old-school formula of a masked killer preying on a damsel in distress, with an emphasis on creative kills and body counts. Even though I didn't like LAID TO REST the first time around, that didn't stop me from wanting to check out its sequel. That review is coming tomorrow though. For now, I get reacquainted with the original.

LAID TO REST has a pretty strong opening. It's a cold open consisting of a montage of the film's soon-to-be-introduced killer carving up female victims with his trademark knife. We're also seeing this opening sequence through the killer's point of view; part of his gimmick is that, aside from having one of the coolest masks in the history of slasher movies, he has a camera attached to his shoulder that looks like the Predator's shoulder cannon. For whatever reason, the killer records all of his crimes, probably because he's a sick fuck.

As far as the plot, a young woman (known only as "The Girl" or "Princess") wakes up in a morgue with amnesia. She's pretty much on the run from that point forward. She knows someone's chasing her but she has no idea who or why. She's eventually picked up by some good Samaritans. With the killer hot on their trail, it's not long before the good Samaritans (plural) become a good Samaritan (singular). Another potential victim is added to the mix, and it's pretty much just the chick and the two other characters (the surviving rescuer and the character who's introduced later) running and hiding from the killer while she attempts to overcome her amnesia.

First and foremost, it should be said that LAID TO REST has some awesome gore effects, which doesn't come as a surprise considering the writer/director works primarily as a special effects guru. Not only that, but the kills themselves are quite the spectacle. If there were people following the killer around with score cards, there would be a lot of 9s and 10s. It should also be said that, unlike the killers in pretty much every other slasher movie, the one in LAID TO REST - "Chromeskull" - drives a car instead using the old foot-mobile. He even switches back and forth between a rather nice car and a tricked-out hearse with a custom air-brush job. Perhaps Chromeskull should've taken some of the money he invested in his cars and bought a strap for his mask so the motherfucker doesn't keep falling off! Just sayin'. Instead, he resorts to crazy-gluing the mask to his face. Hey, whatever works I guess.

Apparently, with the Final Girl's memory loss, she also forgot how to speak the English language coherently. Either that or she was mildly retarded before the amnesia. For example, when asking someone for help and referring to the killer, she sums it up by saying "He wants to make me dead." Really? She also calls a tire iron a "tire stick". Bitch, if you're that dumb, maybe Chromeskull is actually trying to do the world a favor by killing your dumb ass and removing you from the Earth's population to keep you from reproducing and spreading your dumbness around, dummy. Maybe Chromeskull is the hero after all? Just a thought.

The highlights of LAID TO REST are easily the creative kills and gore effects. Director Robert Hall and his special effects team really went all out. It's almost like if someone with the creative and sick mind of Tom Savini knew they were making their last movie and wanted to go out with a bang. That's what the gore in this movie is like. We do get moments of CG gore, but it's mostly practical effects. The CGI looks decent, though, and hey, if CGI is what it takes to get a couple of good headsplosions, then by all means. And of course the look of Chromeskull's mask is awesome. It reminds me of Frank's mask from DONNIE DARKO without the rabbit ears. Otherwise, though? Eh. It's a decent slasher and a good time-killer but not a great movie as a whole.

Score: 6

July 26, 2014

SUMMER OF BLOOD, Day 56: Dr. Lamb (1992)

Directed by Danny Lee, Hin Sing "Billy" Tang. Starring Danny Lee ("Inspector Lee"), Simon Yam ("Lam Gor-Yu"), Kent Cheng ("Fat Bing"), and Pik Yu Chung. Not Rated.

Source: Region 0 DVD (Winson Entertainment/Tai Seng)
Running time: 01:28:47
Country: Hong Kong

Yeah, so I'm kind of a rookie when it comes to Hong Kong cinema, but I've been getting better in the last year or so. DR. LAMB is a movie that I've been wanting to check out since I saw actor Simon Yam in Johnnie To's ELECTION movies a few years back. It's also a title that was recommended to me by someone, somewhere, in the event that I go the CAT III route. "CAT III", for those who have no idea what the fuck I'm talking about, is basically part of the ratings system in Hong Kong, meaning "this movie is fucked up." That said, while watching this, I knew right from the start that it was offering something very important and special. Something that would play a factor in my overall enjoyment of it, whether the movie itself sucked or not.


DR. LAMB opens with sort of an origin story of a deranged taxi driver named Lam Gor-Yu, played by Simon Yam. He's called "Lam Gor-Yu" on IMDB but I'm pretty sure he was referred to by another name in the movie. Also, just to make things even more confusing, the "Lamb" in "Dr. Lamb" is a reference to Lam Gor-Yu, except it's spelled with a "B" at the end, like the animal. Yeah, I dunno. It's almost three in the morning as I write this and I'm tired as fuck. Nonetheless, Lam was apparently beaten one time by his mom when he was a kid and he saw a flash of lightning outside his window, naturally turning him into a serial killer in his adult years, who only strikes when its raining. That's what I took away from the establishing flashback sequence anyway.

The film also opens with a bunch of cops looking at recently-discovered photos of a naked woman who was killed and violated with a broom - not necessarily in that particular order. Leading the group of bumbling cops is a bumbling cop named Fat Bing, played by the hilarious Kent Cheng, who also starred in another CAT III movie called RUN AND KILL with Simon Yam. Anyway, their searches lead them to Simon Yam's character rather quickly. No build-up to a huge showdown or anything; they just find him and catch him in the first act of the movie. So clearly they're the best cops IN THE HISTORY OF CINEMA.

The cops proceed to interrogate/beat the shit out of the apprehended suspect and even his roommates and family members. These cops don't fuck around. In particular, they torture Simon Yam's character for hours, failing to get a confession out of him. The only calm and sympathetic character is Detective Lee. It was during this interrogation process that I came to a painful realization as a viewer: this is a boring police procedural. I was expecting a movie about this crazy serial killer, and instead I'm just getting a bunch of sweaty cops yelling at some sweaty dude. However, after a certain point in the interrogation, the film essentially resets, showing us Lam's crimes through flashback scenes. Now we're talkin'!

The second half of DR. LAMB is a disturbing, hilarious, and sweaty look at the birth of a serial killer. Not the actual "birth" per se (obviously), but a look at what causes someone like Lam to snap and act out on his sick thoughts. It's a journey into the mind of a maniac. Speaking of which, I have to believe that William Lustig's MANIAC was a big influence on this. They're both very similar in terms of how much of their individual stories are shown through the eyes of deranged sociopaths and how twisted these characters are behind closed doors. In Lam's case, he has certain rituals and obsessions that he acts out. His crimes are almost like bizarre ceremonies, and, as the film progresses, it pushes the envelope even further with each crime. Let's just say that it's definitely well-deserving of its CAT III rating. There's certainly some disturbing and taboo stuff in the film (particularly an incident involving a child), but, for the most part, the film's edgier moments are so absurd that one can't help but laugh. Overall, DR. LAMB is a solid flick for what it is, with the only major drawback for me being the pacing, which is an issue I have with a lot of Hong Kong genre films. The ridiculous subtitles also made the movie a lot more enjoyable than it would've been otherwise.

Score: 7

July 25, 2014

13 Questions: Chris (Aylmer) of UNFLINCHING EYE

This week's 13 Questions guest runs the blog UNFLINCHING EYE, which I've been following for a while. You only need to take a quick peak at the blog to know why I appreciate the fact that it's around. Anyone who writes about underground music, extreme cinema, and Euro-horror (amongst other things) all in one place is a righteous dude in my book!

1. Who are you and where are you from?
I'm Chris, an Australian/American who has lived and travelled throughout Europe, US, Asia, and the country I currently reside in, Australia. Middle-aged punk who has loved horror, sci-fi and weird movies since the mid 1970s. Discovered hardcore punk 33 years ago at age 13, and have been abusing my ears on a regular basis ever since.

As far as career and stuff, I manage a non-profit childcare service for a community funded NGO here in inner Sydney. Previously I worked as a graphic designer, but ended up getting sick of annoying clients and impossible deadlines. For a while in the 90s I self-published a fanzine called ALL LIES.

2. Where might people know you from?
One or two unfortunates may know me from my blog Unflinching Eye, or my contributions to the now sadly defunct metal blog Illogical Contraption.

3. When it comes to what you do, who are your major influences?
Ha ha, first and foremost I'm gonna have to say my mother - artist, feminist, and a passionate cinephile. In the '70s she took me to see a ton of great movies on the big screen, among them: 2001: A Space Odyssey, King Kong 1933, De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise, Jaws, Logan's Run, Long Weekend, Prophecy, The Third Man, Ralph Bakshi's Wizards, Fantastic Planet, Eraserhead etc, etc.

We lived in New York in the '70s, and she would frequently sit me down in front of our black & white TV to watch Creature Features, which introduced me to stuff like the early Godzilla movies, the films of Ray Harryhausen, the Universal monster classics, Them, The Day The Earth Stood Still, The Manster, The Blob, The Flesh Eaters, The Fly and many, many more.

My other influences as far as blogging? I guess the whole DIY fanzine and underground comic scenes of the '70s, '80s and '90s, the pioneers of those art forms who did it all cut & paste and xeroxed. I became somewhat involved in all that in the '90s, and I've always seen blogging as a way to recreate that in digital form.

From a movie-writing standpoint, my earliest influences were the writers of mags like Fangoria, Starlog, Fantastic Films and Cinefantastique. If I had to choose one writer though, it'd be Chas. Balun, whose DEEP RED zine was very influential on me.

4. What four peoples' faces would you put on your own personal Mt. Rushmore?
 John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, Alfred Bester and H.R. Giger

5. What's the last album you bought?
Cigarette Burns by WHITE WARDS

6. What are the last movies you saw in theaters and on DVD/Blu-Ray?
Most recently on the big screen: GODZILLA, EDGE OF TOMORROW, COLD IN JULY, SNOWPIERCER, JOE, WILLOW CREEK and THE ROVER. My bluray player is broken!

7. What's the last podcast you listened to?
Sorry to say, it's a medium I haven't delved into yet.

8. What's the last video game you played?
Tetris? I'm not much of a gamer!

9. What's the last book you read?
MATTER by the great Iain M. Banks (R.I.P.)

10. What are your favorite sports teams?
The ANTIHERO skateboard team and the 80's Bones Brigade.

11. What cartoon or comic book character can you relate to the most?
The Checkered Demon!

12. Create a playlist of ten songs that give people an idea of your musical taste.
BLACK FLAG - American Waste
DEVO - Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA
DIE KREUZEN - Pain/Sick People
GOBLIN - Oblio

13. If you could spend the day at an amusement park with one person from the entertainment industry, who would it be and why?
Eva Green. My girlfriend will probably read this, so I'll just leave it at that!


SUMMER OF BLOOD, Day 55: Blood Car (2007)

Directed by Alex Orr. Starring Mike Brune ("Archie Andrews"), Anna Chlumsky ("Lorraine"), Katie Rowlett ("Denise"), and Matt Huthcinson ("Donald Watkins"). Not Rated.

Source: Region 1 DVD (TLA Releasing)
Running time: 01:15:48
Country: USA

Set two weeks in the future, BLOOD CAR exists in a world where people have stopped driving due to gas prices reaching an all-time high. As a solution, an environmentally-conscious Vegan school-teacher named Archie is unsuccessfully working on a car that operates on wheat grass, but, through a mishap, he discovers that his car is able to run on human blood instead. Archie subsequently maintains his operational vehicle through a trial-and-error process with hilarious results. Needless to say, he becomes quite popular just for the simple fact that he drives a car. So popular, in fact, that he attracts the attention of a promiscuous meat-vendor named Denise. And yes, you read that right: meat vendor. Unfortunately, he also attracts the attention of The Government (literally, an organization called "The Government"), who monitor Archie's activity so they can presumably steal his ideas.

If it wasn't obvious enough by now, BLOOD CAR is a horror comedy. I honestly didn't know it was a comedy going into it, nor did I even bother to notice that it stars Anna Chlumsky of MY GIRL fame. I just saw the title of the movie and assumed it was a straight-up horror movie or a neo-exploitation flick. But, the biggest surprise of all is that it's actually pretty fucking funny. BLOOD CAR is full of visual gags in the vein of the old-school Zucker Brothers movies (or other comedies of the sort), some of which are particularly funny because of the fact that they're in the background and it's almost like the film is rewarding you for paying attention. For a more modern comparison, I think a lot of the humor in this is on par with Astron 6's material - in some cases, even funnier.

As the movie goes on, Archie undergoes the awkward process of feeding people to his car, to the point where he begins to lose sight of who he is as a non-confrontational human being with morals. There's not really much to say as far as that's concerned, though. This isn't a movie full of character depth. You're essentially watching the lead character get in over his head with his blood-consuming automobile and descending into madness as a result. In the meantime, we get some comedy that's more hit than miss in my opinion.

The actor who plays Archie reminded me a lot of Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte) from BREAKING BAD, which is either an insult or a compliment depending on how you look at it. Playing his friend who initially supplies him with wheat grass is Anna Chlumsky. This was actually the first feature-length film she did after a long hiatus from the movie industry. Her character, Lorraine, is basically the undesirable of the two lead female characters. She's the brains and likability to Denise's raw sex-appeal and good looks. In other words, Lorraine is the one you'd want to marry and Denise is the one you'd want to fuck. Personally, though, if I were Archie, I would have easily gravitated more towards Lorraine than, but that's mainly due to my long-standing Chlumsky Chrush.

The writing in particular is a highlight. And yeah, if you want to look deeply enough into the film, it does make a commentary on a number of things. But mainly it's just funny. This has quite possibly the funniest car-jacking in the history of cinema. Yeah, that's right, I said it: "history of cinema". In the end, I was initially a bit let down by the fact that BLOOD CAR kinda falls apart (the movie, not the actual car), but, in hindsight, perhaps it's only appropriate that the film just derails at a certain point. Still, this ended up being a nice surprise and a lot more enjoyable than I would've expected.

Score: 6.5