I think there’s some sort of graph you can draw that plots the descent of a certain sort of director – as the budgets drop on one axis, so the number of boobs increase on the other. Such luminaries as Fred Olen Ray and Jim Wynorski have long since gone down this path, the late great Don Dohler did too, and there are dozens of others whose names are lost to time but whose smutty movies are not. Luckily, a glimpse into the future reveals this isn’t the fate of Donald Farmer, who’d go on to all sorts of weird and wonderful cinematic works. Although we were worried there, for a minute.
Although I’m a heterosexual man and like boobs just fine, I’ve never quite understood why low-budget horror directors are so insistent on having a few in there – no-one sees horror movies for titillation, surely? Even full frontal shots and hefty amounts of simulated sex? Especially now, when everyone with a phone has access to an almost infinite amount of smut at any time, there’s a significant number of low-budget directors who seem insistent on getting women to disrobe on camera, which speaks more to them than it does to their audience. Perhaps I’m over-estimating the tastes of low-budget cinema fans?
But enough of our armchair psychoanalysis, we’ve got a movie to cover! After a girl-girl sex scene which might be related to the rest of the movie or might not (thanks to the VHS quality, it’s pretty difficult to tell) we get right into things. Caroline (Ghetty Chasun, resplendent in an L7 shirt) is a young woman, living on the streets, and has been reduced to selling her blood in order to survive. The doctor (billed as “Doctor”) says that actually, if she wants $100 a day rather than just the $15 every 6 weeks from selling blood, she can get Caroline into a special test programme, where they inject her with a special new serum that may well render her immune to any disease.
She naturally jumps at the chance, but there’s a side effect – she grows horrific sharp teeth and is compelled to drain peoples’ blood, murdering them in the process. You know, that old chestnut! So, one day, she’s just wandering the streets in a serum-induced daze and happens upon Lisa (Michelle Bauer), who’s just broken up with her girlfriend over the phone. That girlfriend, by the way, is famed B-movie actress Kitten Navidad, who lived with Russ Meyers for many years, the chap who according to legend paid for her breast enlargements. She was at the stage of her career where she was appearing in pretty much anything (including many hardcore movies, where she would just go topless and not do any of the actual “work”). It appears Navidad never learned to act, or perhaps it was a little hard to motivate herself when the scene involved Donald Farmer turning up at her apartment with a camcorder, filming her in the bath for ten minutes then leaving?
Much like every Donald Farmer movie, there’s so much rich detail that it’s tough to not just recap every scene. Anyway, Caroline and Lisa meet, and Caroline is a mess by this point – she’s already killed quite a few people, and she’ll kill the doctor soon, too. Lisa looks after Caroline, and the two of them fall in love remarkably quickly (the entire movie seems to take place over the course of maybe a week, although it’s difficult to tell). They meet Gina at a club and all three of them hit it off. I think? Anyway, Gina invites them to stay with her, but Caroline wakes up in the middle of the night, drinks her blood and kills her in the process, and Lisa, insanely committed to the woman she met YESTERDAY, disposes of the body for her by cutting it up and putting it in the fridge! A brief cameo from Farmer favourite Danny Fendley as Gina’s pimp and you’ve got yourself a movie, kind of.
There’s so much more I wanted to talk about, and I’d happily tell you everything that went on, but we don’t have all day. As with all Farmer’s movies, I recommend you watch it because it’s a singular experience. Saying that, though, this one honestly feels like a regression in terms of budget and acting – Farmer’s previous two had real actors in them, and at times looked like actual movies. Certain scenes in this are as close to home movie footage as anything I’ve seen for the ISCFC – Navidad’s is the best example, but there are plenty of others. One would hope that after directing movies for close to ten years, he’d have figured some stuff out, but apparently not.
You may have noticed the little recap section up there bounced around a bit – if so, it was only because it was mirroring the movie. It would have made a ton of sense to have a bit about their developing relationship, perhaps a montage intercut with Caroline’s feeding, but all we get is…well, nothing. This mirrors the attitude of every woman in the movie, as they’re all up for a lesbian experience pretty much anywhere, at any time. Caroline just walks up to a few victims and starts kissing them, and every one of them is “cool, let’s go” and not “excuse me, I’m just washing my hands, I was in the middle of lunch”. Although Farmer seems to have finally figured out sex scenes, that both people should look like they’re enjoying themselves.
There’s half an interesting plot here, too! The issue is, it feels like he couldn’t be bothered to develop it. If they’d merged the Doctor and Lisa characters, they could have had the doctor race to find a cure for her lover’s weird vampire curse; this would have provided at least a bit of dramatic tension. Instead we just get endless scenes of Caroline eating people with not even the pretence that we’re moving forward in any remotely logical way.
Factor in the out-of-nowhere conclusion with Fendley, and you’ve got a movie that feels like Farmer knocked it out in a bored weekend with whatever piece-of-crap camcorder he could get his hands on. And that’s a shame, I reckon. Ghetty Chasun as Caroline, while not the greatest actress of all time, is strikingly beautiful (I think, through the VHS haze) and towers over the other women, so she’s already 100 times more visually interesting than the average Farmer actress. She appears to have opted out of acting according to this chap who did some research before me, so good for her. Michelle Bauer as Lisa is fine too, but everyone else is just awful, including Danny Fendley, although mercifully he’s kept to a few minutes in this one. I keep expecting him to luck into hiring a good actor, the law of averages indicates he’s due a few, but no. Just legions of the wooden.
Every Farmer movie is weirdly compelling and absolutely worth watching, but even for him this is grimy and ugly and undeveloped. Don’t jump in with this one, only for the experienced. For a final bit of trivia, Leslie Q, a fascinating experimental musician active in the 90s, is featured in this movie, and you get the entirety of one of her songs. Hell, I liked the music in this much more than anything Farmer had done to this point, a wild noise assault which mirrored (possibly accidentally) the descent of the main character. But this review is nearly done, I can’t start it up again!
Rating: negative thumbs up
PS thanks to “Taliesin Meets The Vampires” for the screenshots, saved me the hassle. Go read their reviews, should you need more vampire-related stuff in your life.