Written and Directed by: : Drew Rosas
Starring: Nick Sommer, Mike Johnson, and Sarah Luther
Reviewed by: Brett G.
Your blood runs through his veins!
Nostalgia-mania is running wild, dudes. If DVD companies arenít raiding VHS dustbins for obsucre 80s slashers, then a new generation of film-makers are getting behind the camera to recreate the stuff they used to pluck from video store shelves. Writer/director Drew Rosas strikes me as the latter, as he scrounged up $6000 and made Blood Junkie, a retro slasher comedy that takes us back to the 80s in both setting and spirit.
We open on a guy wandering around a creepy abandoned building. This of course spells impending doom, as heís soon bum rushed by some weird looking guy and dragged off. We then meet our two main protagonists, Laura and Rachel. They donít know it yet, but theyíre about to break every rule in the B-movie book. First of all, they meet a couple of doofuses at a local convenience store; to make matters worse, they agree to go party with them at an abandoned campground (never mind that these things are always abandoned for some reason). Laura even forces her little brother Andy to come along and lie to their parents about their whereabouts; once they get there, they commit the most cardinal slasher sins by having sex and laughing off one of the guyís campfire tale about a chemically-altered madman who stalks the nearby woods.
This one might as well have been called Nostalgia Junkie because thatís its primary mode. It puts a lot of effort into recreating the 80s and the horror output of that era. Viewers who lived through it will be given a wistful (or maybe embarrassing) reminder of an age dominated by acid-washed denim, gaudy neon aerobics outfits, top-loading VCRs, mullets, and video games that only required a one-button joystick. There are a few instances where modern amenities (like ATM machines and mobile phone cards) pop up in the convenience store, but this is an otherwise fairly faithful reconstruction. Its cinematic aesthetic extends the experience, as this is yet another film that takes the Grindhouse route of intentionally aging and distorting its look, as it comes complete with scratches and grain. The score alternates between synth-pop tracks that feel like New Order B-sides and the usual 80s horror stingers. Itís a fairly stylish production, and if Rosasís primary goal was to douse us in 80s nostalgia, then he succeeded.
The film feels content to coast on its nostalgia wave, and once that novelty wears off, youíre just kind of stuck with some generic character types. The two guys, Craig and Teddy, are actually the most interesting, even if their dialogue is mostly composed of typical macho posturing and terrible pick-up lines. The girls are pretty cute and can adequately fill out their aerobics outfits and swimsuits. The little kid, Alex, is a weird little bastard; I wonder if heís supposed to be a stand-in for Rosas himself. When weíre first introduced to him, heís channel surfing through horror flicks, and he gets a little bit too giddy when he finds a machete in the woods.
I would say that Rosas is acting out his own childhood slasher fantasies here, but thereís actually precious little bloodshed considering the movieís title. The first drop comes about fifty minutes in, and most of the film consists of the killer (who looks to have raided Harry Wardenís closet) rushing in and capturing his prey. We eventually find out that heís harvesting his victimsí blood, which explains the lack of actual hack and slash; thatís a unique wrinkle, but it hardly makes for a good slasher. The last fifteen minutes offer a glimpse of what Blood Junkie should have been, as itís a splattery tour de force of bloodsucking and gut munching.
Save for a tacked on (and pointless) epilogue, the flick ends right there too. You want some movies to be longer, but I figure 72 minutes is just the right length for something that throws a coat of Grindhouse paint on 80s stylings and calls it a day. You might not be surprised to discover that Troma is handling home video distribution for this one; while itís not as raucously tasteless as some of their other offerings, thereís a spot in Tromaville for Blood Junkie. The disc features a gloriously booming stereo soundtrack and a not-so-glorious non-anamorphic transfer (which is really sort of unforgivable in 2011). Special features include a commentary with Rosas, deleted scenes, a slideshow, Rosasís short film entitled Plastic Fangs, a trailer, and a humorous introduction from Debbie Rochon and Lloyd Kaufman. When it wants to be, Blood Junkie is a fine throwback to VHS splatter; I kind of wish it wanted to be a little bit more consistent with the splatter part. Rent it!
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