Saturday, November 15, 2014

Summer of Blood – review

Director: Onur Tukel

Release date: 2014

Contains spoilers

It came as a bit of a shock to me that director (and star/writer) of Summer of Blood, Onur Tukel, once worked as Sergio Lapel. Some of you may find the name familiar – as he was the director of the film Drawing Blood. Now the 1999 released film, on the Troma label, is one I had a love/hate relationship with. The first half of the film was good – but the second half, oh boy… I really hated that second half.

Let me say, from the beginning, therefore that Summer of Blood is in a different league entirely.

Anna Margaret Hollyman as Jody
It starts with couple Eric (Onur Tukel) and Jody (Anna Margaret Hollyman) eating a meal. Jody passes Eric a box that contains a ring. He thanks her, places it on his right hand until she suggests he has used the wrong hand. He suddenly realises it is a proposal and reacts very negatively. He doesn’t want to get married, and what about her career – could she give it all up to be a housewife! They leave the restaurant with a cloud over them that becomes worse when she bumps into an old flame, Jason (Jason Selvig). Eric grabs her by the wrist and so she leaves with Jason.

finding a victim
Eric is not a nice person and the genius of the film is in how he is drawn. He is selfish, misogynistic, cynical and has no drive or ambition. When he sees a man, on the way home, with his throat ripped out, he feigns help but doesn’t really want to be involved. He has no cell phone and when he gets help he actually stops for a conversation whilst the unfortunate man expires. He is skating close to being sacked at work and also rather close to being accused of sexual harassment of co-worker Penelope (Dakota Goldhor). Indeed he has stolen a picture of her and masturbates in the work bathroom to it. Yet, despite being unlikeable he has been drawn with enough knowledge of his flaws and clever enough dialogue to make the character carry the film with a comedy born out of everything that is wrong with the character despite the fact that he is not even an anti-hero.

Eric bitten
Eric goes back to dating, via an online agency, and goes on three dates – with Samantha (Vanna Pilgrim), Denise (Juliette Fairley) and Blake (Melodie Sisk). He blows all three dates – though he does sleep (with rather poor skills it appears) with Blake. He is stood on a New York street, looking out to the river, when a man approaches. The man talks to Eric and eye mojos him. In this scene we see the hypnotic attraction of the vampire as Eric opens his heart, admits he wants to die and (after the bite) tries to kiss the vampire.

The vampire bite in this is messy, a bite to the neck opens the artery and blood gushes. After feeding, the vampire walks Eric to a fire escape, sits him down and leaves him. Eric awakens at work, a plaster on his neck but covered in dried blood. How he got there no one knows – and no one cares about the state he’s in, just that he missed a meeting. When fired Eric pushes a spreadsheet down his pants and wipes his ass with it, which leaves it covered in blood. He walks the streets an absolute mess but New Yorkers walk on by. He can’t keep food down, has a pain in his stomach and (unknown to him at this point) it’ll be the last time he walks in daylight.

Eric turns his dates
Once Eric feeds (and in a moment of pathos holds the victim as they die) he begins to realise what he is. He replicates the three dates and this time woos the women and rocks their world sexually – which includes rather gory blood play. Once all three have turned he has the archetypal three vampire brides, as it were, but he is still selfish and he still treats them like objects (but doesn’t realise it). In fact he begins to realise that he is missing Jody and the future she offered – a marriage, kids and a normal, adult life. Perhaps he can achieve redemption – but will that get him the girl, or cure him of his new condition?

eye mojo
There really isn’t too much more lore than I’ve already mentioned. The vampirism is incredibly virulent and, if this wasn’t a comedy, we might be wondering why it wasn’t widely spread but that disbelief can be suspended within the world Eric draws around him. Sunlight does burn (but not visibly) and the eye mojo is very powerful. A few famous persons are mentioned as being vampires and the undead get together every so often to party.

sharing a meal
Whilst it is Onur Tukel who carries the film brilliantly (and cracks the fourth wall when Eric suggests that, should he direct a film, he would be an auteur who would write, direct and star in the film he made) the other actors are all superb – especially Dakota Goldhor and Anna Margaret Hollyman. A genuinely funny movie that came out of leftfield. 7 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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