Blood Car (UK DVD)
Starring Mike Brune, Anna Chlumsky, Katie Rowlett, Matt Hutchinson
Directed by Alex Orr
Distributed by Left Films
It’s the near future – perhaps only weeks away; gas prices have risen to such an extreme that nobody drives anymore. Junk yards are the new cemeteries – vast plains littered with abandoned, rusting automobiles while the population sit on the floor of the drive-in rather than on the plush seats of their favourite ride.
Attempting to rectify the situation is teacher and amateur scientist Archie (Brune). A devout vegan and pacifist, he’s attempting to design a functioning engine that will run on puréed wheatgrass, supplied regularly by a local stall run by the superlatively geeky Lorraine (Chlumsky) – her obvious affections towards him rendered completely unnoticed due to his dedication to the engine project.
Of course, this being called Blood Car, it isn’t a stretch to assume that wheatgrass just isn’t gonna do the job – a fact realised when Archie accidentally cuts himself and bleeds into the mixture, finally prompting some action. Now the only guy on the block with a functioning car, meek Archie is suddenly the cock of the walk, drawing the carnal attentions of meat seller and generally promiscuous vixen Denise (Rowlett). A couple of blow jobs and sexy times later and Archie’s on a rapid downward spiral, even turning the trunk of the car into a giant bladed mincing machine as he’s forced to perform ever-escalating acts of callousness in order to keep his blood-guzzler moving and, in turn, Denise’s legs open.
That’s also not to mention the shady Government agents who have been tracking Archie’s every move – watching from the background, hiding behind trees, and offering excited commentary as they view his escapades on remote monitors.
“Surreal” doesn’t even begin to describe Alex Orr’s Blood Car, the sheer left-field weirdness of it all actually being complemented perfectly by the rough, low-budget look. Political and social satire is obviously the central theme here, and it’s executed with deft precision as everyone from carjackers to beautiful young women and even war veterans become fuel for the machine and Archie’s overwhelming desire to keep up appearances – and that’s not even mentioning the finale, which jumps into some seriously gut-busting lampooning of the political world.
The film rarely goes a few minutes without a competently delivered, or outright hilarious, sight gag or line of comedic dialogue. Lead Mike Brune’s obvious knack for timing and comedy chops are on full display, with his regular conscientious freak-outs proving particularly entertaining: His initial tormented foray into animal murder with a BB gun is a notable highlight.
The rest of the cast raise no particular ire, with Anna Chlumsky ably embodying the geeky girl next door with an understated sexuality, pitted against Rowlett’s man-eating carnal animalism. The strangeness of the script, and overall narrative, lends an absurdist nature to the performances so absolutely everything feels off-kilter throughout, but the cast manage to hold the reigns just enough to keep from alienating. It most certainly isn’t an A-list delivery, but everyone involved do exactly what they need to in order to keep it working.
The aforementioned absurdist nature completely embodies Blood Car, meaning it most certainly won’t be a film for everyone, and by the time the third act kicks in it does begin to feel rather long in the tooth, with the relationship between Archie and Lorraine never being given a satisfying exploration or conclusion. Thankfully there’s plenty of well executed low budget blood and gore thrown around alongside a welcome smattering of gratuitously unnecessary bare breasts, both of which serve to re-catch any potentially waning attention.
Fans of the weird, surreal, and genuinely inventive independent cinema will lap Blood Car up, and even those not so enamoured with that kind of thing would do well to give it a look. The charm and wit shines through the obvious limitations – hell, the satirical gut-punch of a final shot is almost worth it alone.
Left Films’ UK DVD release of Blood Car is packed with a surprisingly hefty amount of special features, starting with a lengthy “Behind the Scenes” segment (clocking in around an hour), an extended discussion with and visual accompaniment of effects artist Blake Myers as he attempts to create the perfect blood mix for the film. Brune for President consists of footage of lead actor Mike Brune at both a party and a screening of the film delivering a humorous presidential election speech themed on the dystopian world of Blood Car. An early short by the filmmakers, The Last Last and the Tribulations of Johnnybush, offers an incredibly surreal diversion that makes little to no sense whatsoever. It’s easy to see where Blood Car’s absurdity gets its roots. A couple of trailers then pave the way for the real meat – two full commentaries.
The first includes director Orr accompanied by the principal cast and second DP,and provides a constant, no-holds-barred, candid stream of behind-the-scenes info, varying opinions on the film, and frequent laughs. A simple but consistent commentary that easily holds your attention, it’s very refreshing to hear everyone speak so frankly of the movie – coming right out in the opening scene stating that many of them thought that the initial script was terrible, as was the first cut of the film itself. As the commentary continues, opinions do regularly clash in a friendly manner such that it really seems like you become part of a discussion on the film itself: You’re no longer simply being spoken to about the film, but being invited right into a roundtable criticism. Good stuff indeed.
Finally, the best extra on the entire disc comes in the form of a parody commentary by fictitious film historian Dr. Rutherford Thorpe. Dissecting the film with a calm, monotone British inflection, “Thorpe” packs layer after layer of nonsensical, needlessly in-depth meaning to the story of Blood Car, elevating it to his personally lauded status of dystopian masterpiece. Within the first five minutes you’ll be hooked, as Thorpe intelligently reels off a list of dystopian cinema topped off with his absolute favourite... Braveheart.
3 1/2 out of 5
4 out of 5