Thursday, July 31, 2008

Drawing Blood – review


Directed by: Sergio Lapel

First released: 1999

Contains spoilers

This is released on the Troma label, which is synonymous with low budget films of dubious quality. When I started watching it, therefore, I started off being pleasantly surprised. Low budget it certainly was but there was a stately, artistic aspect that pleased me. I was hugely disappointed, therefore, when that unusual but artistic film suddenly switched half way through into rubbishy weirdness. This is a film of two parts and a film with a bizarre twist of vampire lore.

Diana with modelIt begins as a woman (Amie Childers) strips. It is clear, through the dialogue, that she is modelling and the artist is a woman named Diana (Dawn Spinella). The girl admits that she is homeless –a run away. Diana comes to her, stroking her face and then positions her on the floor – a new pose.

biteSuddenly she bites and the camera pulls back to show the woman spasming with pain as she is attacked. Diana stops eventually and the girl tries to crawl away. Diana places a bowl beneath her neck and captures the spilling blood. Then she poses the girl and begins to paint – in blood. We see that the title of the film is doubly clever.

Edmond (Kirk Wilson) and Conner (Leo Otero) walk the street. Conner wants to get a prostitute but Edmond has to go to Diana. A young whore named Dee (Eric Smith) offers herself to both for $20. Edmond refuses but Connor takes her off. Edmond reaches Diana’s home – he is late. She wants him to get rid of the body and feels he should be “one of us” – he refuses vampirism. Diana says she wants an older model and reminds him that it is two days until her show and she still has two pictures to paint.

Conner is getting his money’s worth out of Dee when he bites her neck drawing blood. She runs, not being paid, but he seems to revel in drawing blood. Meanwhile Edmond has buried the girl’s body and, on the way back, picks up older hitchhiker Debra (Linda Catoe) – he suggests that she spend the night with his friend.

bite the cheekWhilst Debra showers, Diana becomes seductive to Edmond, trying to get him to stay the night and repeats the offer to turn him. When he refuses she implies a threat to his father (Larry Palatta) and then forces him to watch as she attacks Debra – chewing her cheek off and spitting it at him but not painting her. He has to bury her.

manifestation of guilt?Once at home Edmond puts on the TV and the channels all seem to be the same – missing person pictures of girls he has supplied to Diana. He falls asleep and remembers his mother asking him to look after his father when she died. He dreams she became a vampire. Out on the street there are missing person flyers everywhere. A father approaches – have you seen my daughter – then another and another. I assume this was a guilt manifestation.

saving DeeSuddenly he sees Dee and, though she just wants to blow him for $5, he takes her home in order to help her. It becomes clear he has fallen in love with her Diana walks into his house – we note that it is daytime – and she makes comment about the open door being an invitation to anyone, a nod to the invitation lore although the film does not explicitly state that one is necessary. She tries to lure Dee and Edmond, to save her, straps her to the bed and binds her mouth… and here things fall apart.

I can't hear you...So far the film has been a clever, artistic movie that tries to ignore the low budget roots. The performances have been solid, the dialogue natural. Edmond’s father comes into it now and this marks the collapse of the film. I do not think it was the fault of Larry Palatta or his performance. More it was that the filmmakers lost their way. From here on in things became painful to watch.

Connor is a psychoEdmond decides he must kill Diana and illicit Conner’s help. Conner, however, is a psychopath with a vampire fetish and we have just seen him kill a girl to satisfy his blood fixation. It is also clear that Edmond has no clue how to kill a vampire and this is not surprising as the film switches all the rules.

Diana vampedCrosses, garlic, sunlight and stakes through the heart. None of them work. The only thing that can kill a vampire is another vampire. So to be staked means nothing unless the stake is wielded by another vampire. It is not thought through. Diana states she does not want to take over the world, all she cares about is her art, but another vampire would probably have gone for world domination… seeing as they couldn’t be touched by humanity.

Kirk Wilson as EdmundSo, how does one become a vampire? Firstly you have to be bitten. The bite makes you half vampire and leaves the victim incredibly horny. They turn when they take a life (and possibly drink blood during that taking of life… the film hints as much but is frustratingly blurred on this aspect).

Diana and EdmundAs I began watching this I was quite taken by the film. Once we hit the second part I became more and more despondent. The second half of the film pushes the score down, a lot. The score might seem unfair to the first part of the film, but the first half fails to reach conclusion and is, thus, fatally flawed. 2 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Anonymous said...

I wish you'd posted this last week, before I bought the bloody thing!

Taliesin_ttlg said...


Have you watched it? Do you concur? It might just be my distorted perception...

Anonymous said...

So far the film has been a clever, artistic movie that tries to ignore the low budget roots. The performances have been solid, the dialogue natural.

This was exactly what I was thinking at that point in the film, but just as I had these thoughts, I suddenly remembered that this was supposed to be a comedy, and that nothing even remotely funny had happened. From the moment the father enters the film the whole thing becomes a mess.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

I'm glad we both saw it the same way, makes me confident that I'm not totally mad! lol

I think I had the advantage of not realising it was meant to be a comedy at that point!