Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bloodsucka Jones – review

Director: Justin Armao

Release date: 2013

Contains spoilers

As always, when it comes to comedy we are in what I think to be the most subjective form of filmmaking. Humour really is a fickle thing and what one person finds funny another person does not.

Bloodsucka Jones is very much a comedy and you know what it worked although, as we'll discuss, the comic performances could have been better. The film takes its lead from blaxploitation movies from the 70s, though the film didn't pursue this in the way that perhaps other retro-facing movies have chosen to do so. Again we'll discuss this later, first the plot.

blood at mouth
A car pulls up at night. In the car are a boy (Pani DuPrey) and a girl, Heather (Erin Holt). The atmosphere feels awkward and eventually Heather asks if he would still like her if she was different. He assumes she's Canadian, so she directly asks him if he would like to see her boobs. She unzips her top, his vision drifting between the brassiere clad boobs and her also revealed fangs. She lunges and bites him, then a gang of prepubescent vampires grab him and pull him out of the car. In the morning there is a stain of (very red) blood to mark his passing.

Christine and David
David (Justin Armao) is playing basketball on his own. He manages to hit a passing girl, Christine (Jessica Dercks) with the basketball. To apologise he tells her to throw the basketball at his head, and ends up on his ass. She asks him if he has a girlfriend. Cut forward a couple of months and she takes David to meet her stepbrother Stewart (Matt Kelly). Initially friendly, when alone with David, Stewart picks the hapless boyfriend up by the throat and tells him to break up with Christine. Later in a bar he is approached by Heather who again tells him to break up with Christine. Both reveal their vampire nature.

Travis Woods as Tony
David is directed towards the apparent vampire hunter Tony (Travis Woods), who is actually just a bit of a beach bum. Tony's knowledge comes from comic books about Bloodsucka Jones. The reason the vampires want David to break up with Christine is because tradition says the first kill should be someone you love, and they know Christine wont attack David and so they are trying to provoke the attack. Eventually David and Tony also find a sword that Stewart has been searching for. They also, eventually, meet Bloodsucka Jones (Preston Gant), and his silent sidekick Vanessa (Maria Canapino), who takes the two hapless heroes under his wing.

Bloodsucka Jones and Vanessa
The film is funny but not consistently hilariously so. One of the main reasons why, I think, is that most of the cast is quite inexperienced and I think they struggle with the comic timing. Not so Preston Gant who is the best thing about the film. It is therefore quite worrying that we don't get to see him until almost a third of the film had played. The other actor who really impressed me was Maria Canapino whose virtually silent character works really well.

melted through cheap fashion
Don't get me wrong I found the film funny, but with a more confident cast and more focus on the title character it could have been more so. The vampires in this can confidently walk around in daylight, are turned by biting and are generally as hapless as the heroes. One very amusing (and spoiler filled) change of lore comes when Heather is given the present of a new top and, after she puts it on, is told that it is from a cheap retailer. The top then dissolves her as holy water might do in another film.

Preston Gant is Bloodsucka Jones
I found it interesting that the filmmakers decided to go down the line of having a 70s blaxploitation type character, with authentic looking clothes, an Afro that could have been its own character and a moustache that was wonderfully false, and yet place that character within a contemporary surrounding. This makes the character an anachronism, but this worked well. The alternative I guess would have been to go along the lines of films like the Sins of Dracula or Disco Exorcist, which very much try to recreate a film that feels like it came from that era. That is almost becoming a tried and tested formula, so kudos to the Bloodsucka Jones team for trying something different.

Again, it's a comedy, so bear that in mind when looking at the score. 6 out of 10.

The imdb page is here. The film can be hired or bought digitally at Vimeo.

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