Monday, 15 June 2015

BLOOD CAR - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Bloody Original Regional Indie on Kino-Lorber DVD

Blood, Babes and Fast Cars in the great state o' Georgia
Blood Car
Dir. Alex Orr
Scr. Orr & Adam Pinney & Hugh Braselton
Starring: Mike Brune, Anna Chlumsky, Katie Rowlett

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Preface: Blood Car and the
importance of independent, regional cinema

In a recent review I mentioned how I almost missed seeing a great movie (Liza The Fox-Fairy). If it hadn't been gently recommended to me by its publicist for the Niagara Integrated Film Festival (GAT PR's Ingrid Hamilton), I'd still be ignorant of its charms. A similarly fortuitous intervention occurred with this movie. In an email copied to the KL publicity director to ensure a specific review title was added to my list, Bret Wood, filmmaker and home entertainment production executive at Kino-Lorber wrote:

"If you haven't already requested it, you should get a copy of Blood Car. I think it would appeal to your warped sensibility."

Two simple sentences which spoke loudly to this fella.

That said, I've had recommendations before which, on occasion, have not always yielded happy results. However, I'm starting to detect a certain tone in such urgings from certain parties which places their suggestions on another rung altogether.

After five minutes of watching this movie and occasionally throughout, a thought occasionally did glide upon my cerebellum:

How in the name of Jesus H. Christ did I missed this film's 2007 release? I eventually discovered it played during my favourite film festival in Canada, the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, the one year, 2007, in which I was sadly unable to attend.

Blood Car more than appealed to my own perversities, but was, in fact, a genuinely terrific regional indie genre film which additionally warmed the sentimental cockles of my heart as it reminded me of the kind of stuff I loved promoting and making in my youth when I lived far away from the Canadian "centres of [film industry] excellence" like Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver and wherein I produced, sold and marketed similar movies whilst programming a repertory cinema in the middle of Nowheresville - Winnipeg.

For me, what typifies regional indie filmmaking are the exclusive perspectives brought to the work which are rooted, not only in the specific time and place in which the films are set, but are infused with their unique qualities by virtue of telling the kind of stories which mainstream industrial factory towns like Hollywood, could never hope to achieve. For example, George Romero or John Waters created early, low-budget cinema that was inextricably linked to places like Pittsburgh (Night of the Living Dead) and Baltimore (Pink Flamingoes) respectively, just as the work I produced, amongst which included the early shorts by John Paizs and the first three feature films by Guy Maddin, etc. brought genuine indigenous qualities to them which also helped to translate into a kind of originality that lived outside their hermetically sealed worlds whilst capturing elements of said worlds which were intrinsic to their ultimate artistic success.

An engine which rivals gas-guzzlers and even the Electric Car
The Movie Itself

Blood Car exists along blood lines of the very special pedigree which initially spawned Seymour Krelborn, the main character played by Jonathan Haze in Roger Corman and Charles B. Griffith's immortal 1960 Little Shop of Horrors. Shot on the fly over two days with virtually no money, it told the story of a nebbish plant shop employee who nurtures Audrey, a very special flower which can only feed upon human blood. At first, pin pricks drained from Seymour's fingers into the plant's maw prove acceptable, but as the film progresses, Audrey requires the bodies of those Seymour must murder.

Here, we have Archie Andrews (Mike Brune), a nebbish vegan kindergarten teacher in the severely underpopulated region surrounding Atlanta, Georgia. His world is just slightly in the future, one in which gas prices have soared to over $30 per gallon. Archie invents a new motor he hopes to fuel with the disgusting lime green wheat germ drink he purchases from the sweet, innocent babe Lorraine (Anna Chlumsky) who runs the local outdoor health food stand. Alas, his invention keeps sputtering out until he discovers, quite by accident, that a geyser of his blood infuses it with the force it needs.

At first, our geeky hero attempts an extremely grotesque and painful blood transfusion, then outfits his long-dormant car with the new invention which rests conveniently in the rear trunk. It works!!! He drives over to the Veggie Stand to impress Lorraine, though he dupes her into believing that it's her special wheat germ beverage that fuels the car, not blood.

Just across from the Vegan Stand is a Meat Stand presided over by the hot trollop Denise (Kate Rowlett). Where but in a zero-budget independent indigenously-produced film would you find a Vegan food stand and a rival Meat stand, both in the middle of an empty field through which only a handful of people pass through?

Denise's deep-seeded fetish for cars soon manifests itself in the vigorous provision of endless sexual gratification for our hero. Her first ride in the car inspires the dark, Goth-like babe to deliver an enthusiastic knob-polishing upon Archie as he puts the pedal to the metal. Archie soon realizes that the mad sex will only continue if he can keep his vehicle fuelled up. Happily, his infirm elderly neighbour Mrs. Butterfield keels over from a heart attack and he tosses her corpse into the trunk where the blades shred her body to a bloody pulp which feeds the engine with all the nutrition it needs.

Unfortunately, the old broad's scarlet viscous hamburger meat (as it were) lasts only so long and like Seymour Krelborn in Little Shop of Horrors, Archie begins to murder his fuel providers. Add to this mix the romantic back and forth between the good girl and the bad girl, hilarious montages of both murder and sex (at one point culminating in a golden shower) plus mysterious Men in Black-style government agents, following and observing Archie's every move - all of which yields an endlessly hilarious and caustic satire of America, delectably, perfectly and appropriately rooted in the Georgia Hinterlands.

The movie is often rough around the edges, as per its budgetary constraints, but for the most part, it more than makes up for such occasional deficiencies, many of which are cleverly spun by its director into virtues and the added bonus of delightfully over-the-top gore effects, often unique camera compositions, a breakneck pace not unlike a Hawks' screwball comedy, a magnificently short running time (keeping you wanting more in all the right ways), a constantly hilarious and engaging screenplay rife with absurdity and mordantly snappy dialogue and, of course, there are the babes. Not only do we have two leading-lady babes, but the film is full of Georgia Peaches so quim-moist over Archie's wheels, that they're constantly baring their breasts in his general direction to entice him.

Blood Car careens wildly from sharp satire to down and dirty raunch. Roger Corman would certainly be proud and so too should the entire team who generated this no-budget treat.

As for the rest of us, it's a wild ride well worth taking.


Blood Car is available on DVD via Kino-Lorber Films. Its only extras include two brilliant, savage and funny short films from the same creative team and confirm this feature is no fluke. Orr and associates are on to something very special indeed.