Friday, February 10, 2017

Bloodrunners – review

Director: Dan Lantz

Release date: 2017

Contains spoilers

There is a 2010 short entitled Blood Runners but if that was almost a post-modern noir then this, its almost namesake, goes back to an era that could be said to exemplify noir. Though I don't believe it offers us a film noir experience, prohibition, gangsters and crooked cops are the order of the day – and, of course, vampires.

So we are in 1933, and this small town has its share of speakeasies and bootleggers running alcohol. The police aren’t exactly concerned – after all they are all making a tidy sum by skimming from the top. However a new speakeasy has opened up – Chesterfields.

Ice-T as Chesterfield
The film starts with cop Jack (Michael McFadden) in Chesterfields drinking wine. His partner Sam (Dan McGlaughlin) comes in as Chesterfield (Ice-T), the band leader, plays. Chesterfield introduces singer Alexandra (Julie Ek) – the true queen of the night he says – and Sam is fixated on her but Jack has noticed something going down in the club and, having spoken to the cigarette girl (Tina Marie Connell), has put two and two together and realised that Chesterfield is running the show – despite his ethnicity (a race element is touched on but the film does not capitalise on it). The two cops leave, put on uniforms and go to shake down the town.

Michael McFadden as Jack
After a hard night they head to a cathouse run by Rosie (Kerry McGann). What we have seen is a new customer (Benjamin Kanes) enter, having ensured he is invited in, and take up with a girl named Violet (Tammy Jean). As Jack gets more and more drunk with Rosie (he has never met a bottle he didn’t like) and Sam hangs with patrons and gals in the salon we see the man and Violet together. He goes down on her and bites her in a… sensitive spot. In the morning Violet will seem a tad sensitive to sunlight.

cgi wounds
The cops might be on the take but occasionally have to do some police work and this time it is because a girl has been killed in the woods. They aren’t exactly the bastions of police work, however, at first trying half heartedly to get the hunter (Peter Pryor) who found her to confess to her murder and then blaming a preacher who is near the scene preaching damnation. Actually this scene underlines the biggest problem I had with the film. The girl, viciously attacked we are told, sports cgi injuries and the film relies way too much on cgi – bullet impacts, stakings, wounds – they look false, distract and practical effects would have been so much better. Actually a bit more gore wouldn’t have gone amiss either.

Anna and Willie
Be that as it may what we end up with is the cops putting the shake down on the new speakeasy, who cave very quickly. This leads them to intercept a booze run – but the truck isn’t carrying booze, rather it carries blood (with the concept that the vampires are hiding a blood trade behind a surreptitious booze trade) and this leads to the cops and vampires going to war. Drawn into this are young lovers Anna (Airen DeLaMater), daughter of Rosie, and Willie (Chris James Boylan), odd job man at the cathouse and busboy at the speakeasy. Jack has flashbacks to being a sniper in WW1 and the time he killed a man during a truce, who was actually a vampire feeding on the wounded, an event he has blotted with booze until that vampire turns up in town.

The vampires are fast and strong. Chesterfield can transform into a flock of bats (no-one else shapeshifts) and we get some of those bats killed by swinging a rosary in the air and whacking them. Holy water burns, stakes kill (removing the greater part of the head by shotgun seems to as well) and they avoid sunlight but we don’t see the effect of that. Chesterfield is referred to as the Master and he confides that he staked his own Master. Blood is affected by the emotional state of the victim and a virgin's blood is highly prized.

The story was straight forward enough. The acting varied but the principles did a good enough job – Ice-T was, as one would expect, good in the role but somewhat wasted. As I mentioned, there is a racial element that really isn’t played to any great level and much more could have been made of that. The biggest issue for me was the use of cgi, as I mentioned. The photography looked professional enough and there had been care to get props such as Tommy Guns and period cars – why a few gunshot squibs couldn’t have been employed is beyond me. Chesterfield in full on vamp mode looked awful but for the most part the vampires just showed fang.

This isn’t the greatest film ever but it had a degree of charm, some neat ideas and didn’t outstay its welcome. 5.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


fenris said...

Hadn't heard about this film before, so thanks for putting it on my radar, Taliesin. I tend to really enjoy pulp fantasy movies set in the 1930s - for example, Doc Savage: Man of Bronze (1975), The Rocketeer (1991), The Shadow (1994), Radioland Murders (1994), The Phantom (1995) and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) - so Bloodrunners is definitely of interest. After reading your review I immediately viewed the film's trailer, and it seems to have a similar look and tone to another recent low-budget favourite of mine, a superhero/noir movie called Sparks (2013) that was set in the late 1940s/early 1950s.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

No worries Fenris

The film hits streaming and DVD in March, I understand