Blood & Donuts (1995)

I feel like I spent most of my movie-watching 90s, rather than with Van Damme, Rothrock, AIP, horror franchises and Full Moon, watching movies like this. The genre / movement started, roughly speaking, with “Sex, Lies and Videotape”, and “Slacker”, but by this point in the decade we were getting (both good and bad) “Clerks”, “Living In Oblivion”, “Kicking and Screaming”, “S.F.W.”, “Empire Records”, “Reality Bites”, “Bodies Rest and Motion”, “Kids”, “Sleep With Me” and “The Doom Generation”, among many many others.

It did feel for a while like anyone with a film school degree, or several credit cards to max out, could get a distribution deal – and many of the directors and writers that came up in that generation are now our elder statesmen of entertainment. But as you look through old lists you made, or indeed the list I made above, which is limited to just 1994-1996, you realise you really don’t want to revisit those days. I assume today’s kids are too busy being amazed at the apartments and cars the disaffected, under-employed youth of their parents’ generation could afford to want to watch these movies as well – that, or wondering how badly previous generations wrecked government and the planet and how they can fix it.

But you didn’t come here to listen to me make terribly informed guesses of the mores of a generation I’m entirely unaware of! My point is that happening upon an indie movie from the mid-90s I didn’t know about, which ties in with my ongoing mission to watch every movie I can find that starts with the word “Blood”, is a minor cause for celebration and a major cause for worry at the things I used to find entertaining.

Boya (one letter away from the star of our previously covered series, “Undisputed”, pointless coincidence fans) is a vampire who decided to hibernate in a disused basement in 1969, after seeing the moon landing. A guy hitting golf balls across the city happens to put one through a basement window, disturbing Boya’s sleep. So he gets up, encounters cab driver Earl (Louis Ferreira, superb “That Guy” actor), digs up a suitcase full of his possessions and checks into a fleabag motel across the road from an all-night donut shop.

Inside the shop is the beautiful, charming collection of 90s indie tics and quirks, Molly (Helene Clarkson, whose final role was sadly in “Earth: Final Conflict”), and two low-level hoodlums, Pierce and Axel (two other That Guy actors, Frank Moore and Hadley Kay), who want Earl’s help ferrying them to and from crimes, for some reason. Oh, and their boss is played by David Cronenberg, who really must have owed someone a favour, although he did do quite a bit of acting at the time.

Oh, and there’s Boya’s former girlfriend from 1969, who senses he’s woken up thanks to him almost having turned her into a vampire back then; she wants him to finish the job and is jealous, ish, of his obvious love for Molly. And these are the people who bounce off each other in a variety of ways throughout the movie. Boya is almost too gentle and sensitive, rendering him relatively useless in his own story; but as he offers Earl a place to stay, their friendship develops, and Molly warms to him too.

Director Holly Dale clearly had almost no money to work with, so we’re left with something which is a little too minimalist – the grubby interior of the donut shop, the even grubbier interior of Boya’s rooms, a few back alleys and a graveyard are basically the only locations, and while that sort of thing can work for some directors, I’m not sure she was one of them. Her career is an interesting one – starting off making documentaries about women in prison, and prostitutes and drug dealers on the streets, “Blood and Donuts” was her first feature (one of only two, that I can tell) before she became a TV director, making episodes of pretty much every TV series of the last 20 years (at least those that film in Canada).

Perhaps the strangest choice of the lot was Louis Ferreira’s, to do an impression of Christopher Walken doing an impression of an Italian-American. He’d been acting for a decade before this, so has no “rookie mistake” excuse to fall back on, but he’s not only odd, but also sort of monotonous. The only actors I really bought in their roles were Clarkson and Moore, who did well with what they had.

I know it’s a strange thing to say about a movie featuring a vampire, asleep since 1969, falling in love with a woman who works in a donut shop, but it feels generic. From the music, straight out of “Now That’s What I Call The Soundtrack To A 90s Indie Film”, to the colour scheme, to most of the performances…its Canadian setting gives it some leeway (and is responsible for the funniest line, delivered by David Cronenberg) but sadly not enough.

Rating: thumbs down

PS – If you’re desperate to give it a go, it appears available on Youtube in its entirety.

 

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Dude Bro Party Massacre III (2015)

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The question on everyone’s minds is, of course, can the guys match the sheer brilliance of parts 1 and 2 of this storied franchise? Obviously, you’ve seen them – you’re not a fool – and you’ve been waiting for what the guys can deliver…

 

Yeah, sorry, I hoped that joke would have more legs. 5 Second Films, the hilarious group / website that’s made some brilliant, if somewhat short, movies in recent years, decided to make a full length movie based on a slightly longer “trailer” they’d made for “Dude Bro Party Massacre 3”. One successful Kickstarter campaign later, and a mysterious benefactor who doubled the Kickstarter take, and we’ve got ourselves one of the funniest, best judged, best filmed, best acted slasher film parodies in years (this and “The Slashening” are really showing how good this particular sub-genre can be).

 

The high-concept stuff of this film is that it’s the sole surviving copy of a movie deemed too violent, so all the prints were destroyed, recorded from a late-late-night cable-access TV channel on its last ever showing. This allows them to have the odd bit of VHS “noise” on the screen, which is a lovely touch for those of us who spent many an hour trying to tweak with the tracking of some old tape to get it to play properly. Plus, they play snippets of fake adverts too, in keeping with their 5-second origins – my favourite being one for a compilation album, which I grabbed a screenshot from for you:

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After surviving the murderous rampage of a sorority house “Mother” in part 1, then “Motherface” in part 2 (the killer’s daughter, wearing her mother’s face over her own) it looks like the rest of the Delta Bi fraternity have got to withstand yet another attempt from Motherface – but didn’t they kill her? Ah, who knows? The frat are the regulars at 5-Second Films, plus a couple of special guests – Greg Sestero, co-star of “The Room” and author of the fantastic “Disaster Artist”; and Andrew WK as party animal “Rip Stick”. The first person we see killed is Brock Chirino, who has his throat cut by an unseen therapist; Brock has a twin brother called Brent, and he decides to try and infiltrate the fraternity to find out what happened.

 

Without even trying too hard, this movie does a couple of very clever things. First up is reversing the genders of the traditional roles in the movie – while we’ve had female slashers before (eurgh, “Sleepaway Camp”) they’ve always been fairly equal-opportunity about the people they’ve slashed. Motherface is going after those frat guys and that’s all she’s interested in, and they even throw in a guy who’s super-worried about losing his virginity to his aggressive girlfriend, a lovely touch.

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Clever thing two is making the victims the villains. Frat pranks are normally toilet-papering the Dean’s house (so I’ve been led to believe, Americans and their traditions are a mysterious world to me sometimes), things of that nature. Delta Bi’s pranks have involved causing two planes to crash over an orphanage; destroying a dam and flooding an entire town, killing thousands; and the thing that stopped the Dean from expelling them for the other things, bringing down a South American dictator thanks to a hot-air balloon playing heavy metal music. Absolutely brilliant, and the straight way the unimaginable carnage is played is hilarious.

 

Now’s the time when I’d normally say something a bit negative, to balance things out, but I got nothin’. The largely unknown (to me) cast nails their parts, Sestero has learned to act since “The Room”, and even ancient TV host Larry King is pretty funny in his tiny cameo. You’ve got clever little montages, an amazing running subtitle gag, porn star Nina Hartley showing she could probably go “legit” and have a decent career…it’s just really well done.

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We’re in a bit of a golden age for indie horror comedy, so drop a few £ on “Dude Bro Party Massacre 3” (available wherever movies are streamed or sold) and have a guaranteed good time.

 

Rating: thumbs up