Thursday, 27 November 2014

QUEEN OF BLOOD - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Official Selection at Blood in the Snow Film Festival

Queen of Blood (2014)
Dir. Chris Alexander
Starring: Nivek Ogre, David Goodfellow, Shauna Henry, Carrie Gemmell

Review By Greg Klymkiw

So, not only is Queen of Blood a Canadian movie, eh, but it's a horror movie and an art movie, eh. This means it's artistic, eh. You know it's artistic because there are many scenes of people staring - at what, you never really know, eh, but that's what makes it artistic, eh. Did I mention yet that it's Canadian? And you know how you can tell it's Canadian? Well, because it is artistic, eh, but most of all because it is underpopulated and shot in a rural location, eh.

And goddamn it, this movie is just so bloody artistic, eh. There are lots of scenes with people walking across fields and through the woods, eh. It takes them a long time to walk. Sometimes they are moving in slow motion, eh. Actually, they're moving in slow motion a lot, eh, but you know, that's okay, eh, because it's like, artistic, eh. Oh and Jesus H. Christ, Mary and Joseph, I plumb forgot to mention that the movie has lots of fades and dissolves to mark the passage of time, eh. And I'm telling you, this is mega-artistic, eh.

The movie is not only artistic, but it is what they call an homage. Yessiree-Bob, it's a right, royal artistic homage. The whole kit and caboodle is in the spirit of movies directed by Jesus Franco and Jean Rollin. These Euro-Trash dudes were super prolific in the 60s, 70s and 80s and even though most of their movies were godawful (but artistic, eh), the sheer volume of their output actually generated a handful of cool movies. None of them were actually good, eh, but they were cool (and artistic), so that's good, eh.

The only problem with homaging dudes like Franco and Rollin - I mean, aside from the fact that their movies were awful - is that they were completely and utterly bereft of humour. There is nothing deadlier than artistic Euro-Trash horror movies that are humourless.

Queen of Blood, it must be said, is true to its roots. It's artistic, kind of awful and humourless also. It is, however, in the noble tradition of Canadian filmmakers referencing other movies. God knows, Guy Maddin, John Paizs, Astron-6, the twisted Soska Twins and among others, Lee Demarbre, all do this homage thing. The difference is that the movies they reference are not humourless and as such, their own movies are not bereft of humour.

Queen of Blood, however, is not only missing quite a few brain cels, but it has no funny bone - kind of like Jesus Franco and Jean Rollin, eh.

Now, if I had to tell you what Queen of Blood is actually about, I'd probably have to say that I really have no fucking idea, but that won't stop me from trying, because it's artistic, eh and I sure as fuck don't want you to think I'm what they call a Philistine, eh. I might be from the North End of Winnipeg, eh, but we're no dummies, eh. The North End gave the world Burton Cummings, David Steinberg and Monty Hall, eh.

So, here's what you're in for, eh. The movie begins with some chick crawling out of a pool of swamp water. A title card comes up and says: BIRTH. Heavy, man, heavy. Then, some bearded dude shows up wearing a sweater he probably bought at Target Store and carries some chick into the woods. I think it's the same chick who crawled out of the swamp, but I don't think it really matters. Eventually, we find ourselves in a cottage, or a farm house, or something. A chick, I think it's the same chick, is inside and the dude offers her a white dress, then proceeds to cut her hair. He's no Vidal Sassoon, but upon completion of the follicle shearing, he presents the chick with a mirror. With extremely wide-eyes, kind of like those creepy fluffy puppy dog velvet paintings, she stares at herself in the mirror for what seems like a very long time. Before tedium really begins to set in, we cut to a bunch of bees buzzing around and then the dude with the beard kneels before the chick who tears his throat open in slow motion with her phallic thumb, then licks the blood off her hand. She exits the cottage, marching into bright sunlight and directly into the camera lens. I accept this.

As the movie crackles along, we get ourselves some nice slow motion camera moves in the empty cottage. And then, another chick shows up. As this is an artistic movie, we need some more shots of people staring at stuff, so the chick stares at some horses while stroking her preggo-belly. We need more staring, so luckily we encounter a dude adorned in black at some church and he stares directly into the camera lens. At this point, the filmmaker astutely realizes we need a shot of someone aimlessly walking and in an extreme long shot a chick in white wanders - very slowly - through the woods. She gets closer and closer to us, but it does take a fairly long time. To break shit up, we're treated to a slow dolly shot along a creek with the deep woods in the background and leaves are slowly fluttering to the ground. The white dress chick finds a blue dress chick and smears blood upon her face, then turns and very slowly walks back into the woods.

I hope you're following all this.

Now the dude in black is staring at a field. Good deal, eh. Staring at fields is very artistic, eh, but alas he must stop staring and do some wandering. This was probably a good idea because he finds a chick lying dead on the ground. He does what anyone would do, he covers her body with foliage. Our filmmaker manages to infuse a few frissons into the proceedings by focusing on a spider dangling from a web whilst the pregnant chick stands in a barn with a horse and stares out the window. We get some throat tearing action followed by a really long shot of a barn which the chick in the white dress eventually and slowly walks towards. Upon entering the barn, she lies down on the straw and takes a nap.

Regardez! Regardez! Regardez!

A new title card is upon us: "DEATH".

Oh, by the way, we're only about 30-minutes into this thing.

The next section serves up a variety of walking around and staring in addition to some strangling, some endless Terence Malick-like staring up at the tops of trees, some dude in a stovepipe hat having the life drained out of him, a chick slowly crawling along the ground, the dude in black breaking his thumb and having some kind of epileptic seizure whilst a geyser of blood spews out of his mouth.

And guess what? A new title card: "REBIRTH".

Things are really heating up now.

The Sun is shining. The pregnant chick is staring. The chick in the white dress walks really slowly to the barn. She meets up with the pregnant chick, rubs her belly, kisses her, then appears to shove her hand into the belly and extract blood from it. Now the chick in the white dress is pregnant. She stares at a whole lot of stuff and walks into the woods slowly. Hell, she even walks into the water, whereupon she gives birth to some grotesque looking baby with its umbilical chord still dangling and smeared in bloody afterbirth. With babe in arms she walks through a yard full of junk and meets up with some old bearded inbred hillbilly dude who kind of looks like Santa Claus. The poor fella's just trying to whittle like Uncle Jed on The Beverly Hillbillies and the chick rips his throat open and feeds the blood to the baby, smiling like some psychotic Blessed Virgin Mary.

I won't ruin the ending for you, but it's a surprise shocker. It's not quite the Statue of Liberty at the end of Planet of the Apes, but by the standards of this ludicrous film, it might as well be.

The bottom line is this: If you can hack the absolute worst Jesus Franco and/or Jean Rollin Euro-trash horror films, then you'll probably have absolutely no problem sitting through Queen of Blood.

Besides, it's artistic, eh.

The Film Corner Rating: ONE PUBIC HAIR
*Note* The "One Pubic Hair" rating is hallowed ground at The Film Corner. Only two films before this have ever received this worthy accolade: Son of God(zilla) and Sharknado.

Queen of Blood is an official selection of the Blood in the Snow Film Festival (BITS 2014) at the Magic Lantern Carlton Cinemas in Toronto.