Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Vamp or Not? Blood Car

coverThis was a 2007 movie directed by Alex Orr and the reason for looking at this is fairly obvious. The synopsis of the film sets the film in the very near future when gas prices have skyrocketed to the point that no one drives any more. Vegan kindergarten teacher Archie (Mike Brune) seeks to create an engine that runs on wheat grass. Instead he accidentally invents a car that runs on blood.

Now vampiric vehicles are not unheard of. There was the vampiric motorbike in I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle. In that the bike was possessed and was sentient and suffered from the same genre specific weaknesses as any traditional vampire (sunlight, holy items, garlic etc). There is also a film I haven’t seen as I have yet to find a subtitled version, the 1981 Czech film Upír z Feratu. This concerned a racing car that runs on human blood and Blood Car would seem, on a casual inspection at least, to come closer to that.

Anna Chlumsky as LorraineAfter an interesting opening where we are told the general premise about the problems with gasoline prices we meet Archie. On his way home from work every day he stops by a vegetable booth to buy wheat grass from Lorraine (Anna Chlumsky, yes she who was in My Girl 1 &2). Lorraine has a thing about Archie – to the point of drawing erotic pictures of them together – but he does not seem to reciprocate her affections.

Denise and ArchieHe lives below Mrs Butterfield (Barbara Carnes) and spends his evening experimenting with his wheat grass engine. The price of wheat grass, however, is going up and Denise (Katie Rowlett), who runs a meat stand near Lorraine’s veg stand, is trying to tempt him to buy her products. He seems to be in despair – there is some indication that he or someone he is close to has/had cancer but that is not explored more than showing us a memory of a doctor mentioning cancer.

the prototype worksHe manages to get the engine working after he cuts his hand and blood gets into his engine. He then gets his car working by putting a mix of wheat grass and blood he siphons from his own arm into the tank. Denise is somewhat excited by the car and blows him for a fast ride but the tank runs dry – if he can get it running again she’ll go on a date the next night. Archie then begins to put his vegan sensibilities to one side as he hunts animals (squirrels, cats, dogs and duck) – he tries to rationalise that it is okay, it is for fuel not food, but cries as he shoots them with a BB gun. The car does not work.

boot grinderHe then notices that Mrs Butterfield has died up on her balcony and puts her into the boot of his car – which he has fitted out with a meat grinding set up. The car works – thus he realises two things; it needs human blood specifically and wheat grass is not needed. He also realises that Denise will do just about any deviant sexual act for someone with a car. As he tries to maintain his own sanity, whilst his morality plummets, the Government are after his invention (killing people for fuel is patriotic).

placed rather than eatenBeyond the blood for fuel (and the conceit that the blood has to be human) there is little vampiric about the car. It seems to growl like an animal rather than have an engine growl – but it is a filmic affectation. There is a hole shot into the boot that later seems to heal but actually that is just a continuity error and the hole (and rag stuffed in to seal it) reappear later. As for Archie, he does fall into a spiral of lost morality and depravity – for the sake of power and sexual conquest. The film is a black comedy but it is also, most definitely, a gross out comedy and the film makers go out of their way to ensure that if it can be offensive they put it into the film – a war veteran is beaten into the trunk with his own false leg, vegans are just one bout of deviant sex away from eating meat, school kids are summarily executed by the government for new technology… the list goes on, but is it vamp?

The car isn’t sentient, unlike the vampire motorcycle in "I Bought...", we don’t know why it runs on blood and it has no vampiric traits other than its fuel type. I can’t compare and contrast with Upír z Feratu but I would have to say, for this flick; no, it isn’t vamp.

The imdb page is here.


Anthony Hogg said...

I've finally found the title of what might be the earliest entry in the somewhat niche vampire car genre: Josef Nesvadba's "Vampires Ltd."

It was translated into English (from Czech) in 1964. The car sucks the blood of its driver through the accelerator pedal.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Anthony, cool... Nesvadba actully gets story credits for Upír z Feratu, so it would seem the film is based upon the story.