Having heard positive things about Blood Car, I was looking forward to watching this horror comedy. But when I sat down to watch the film for the first time, and fell asleep twice in the first fifteen minutes, my expectations dropped considerably. In all fairness to the film and the filmmakers, I was a bit tired at the time, so that might have had something to do with my nodding off. Still, it was enough to make me wary about giving the film a second chance; and as a result I waited nearly a month, and made sure I was good and well-rested before trying to watch Blood Car a second time.
My second attempt at watching Blood Car netted slightly better results in that I didn't fall asleep. But in watching the film, I realized that my dozing off had far less to do with me being tired, and more to do with the film's slow-to-get-started pace. In all fairness, Blood Car does get better as it chugs along, and in all honesty I'm glad I gave it a second chance. None of that, however, means that the film is quite as deserving of all the praise that's been heaped upon it.
Set in the not-too-distant future (like two weeks from now, according to the narrator), much of the world has given up on driving cars when gas prices reach an astronomical $36 per gallon. Unassuming kindergarten teacher and vegan Archie Andrews (Mike Brune) is working on an engine that runs on wheatgrass. Everyday after school he stops by the vegetable stand, where he buys wheatgrass juice from Lorraine (Anna Chlumsky), a nerdy girl who draws doodles of herself giving Archie blowjobs. Archie's experiments result in something he didn't quite expect--it seems that the engine he's designed does not run on wheatgrass, but on blood. This proves to be a dilemma for the vegan, who believes that "meat is murder;" but when the sight of his car driving around gets the attention of super tramp Denise (Katie Rowlett), Archie is quick to throw his convictions out the window. Soon he is engaging in all sorts of depraved sexual activity with Denise, while at the same time trying to find enough blood to keep the car running, both of which are pushing him to the brink of insanity. Meanwhile, mysterious men in black are after Archie, hoping to unlock the secrets of his blood car.
On paper, Blood Car sounds like a pretty good idea, and there is certainly a premise behind the film that would seem to be solid enough to carry it. But for a whole host of reason--limited budget being one of them--the film seldom delivers what it promises. As anything that could even be remotely considered a horror movie, the film pretty much fails from start to finish. Sure, it is primarily a comedy, but there is not a single scene that is remotely scary, disturbing or gross. There are a few splattering blood moments, but those are played strictly for laughs, and more often than not it feels like the filmmakers have never actually watched a real horror movie.
Blood Car's other big failure is that it really has very little say. You go in expecting the possibility of seeing a film that has something comically profound to say about car culture or over-dependence on fossil fuel, but the only real message the film seems to have to say is that guys with cars get laid. And while there's nothing wrong with that message, Blood Car comes across as a missed opportunity mixed with a dose of Herschell Gordon Lewis-style filmmaking. It is a film that wants to be a spoof or a satire, but isn't really sure what it is spoofing or satirizing.
Despite its shortcomings, Blood Car is not a complete failure. As a total film it has trouble working, but it has individual elements--scenes, lines of dialog and key characters--that are very entertaining. Several scenes stand out, including one with Archie and a car jacker (Mr. Malt) arguing over multiplication tables, and another where Archie has an emotional breakdown while hunting little animals with a bb gun; and if the rest of the film was like these scenes, Blood Car would be much better. Brune, who initially seems miscast in a role that was tailor-made for either Crispin Glover or Rick Moranis in his Little Shop of Horrors days, eventually really grows into the role of Archie. But the best performance of the film--and the main reason to watch Blood Car--is Katie Rowlett, who pretty much steals every scene she is in with her foul-mouthed sex talk. And of course there is Anna Chlumsky, best known for her work in My Girl, who appears to have grown up to be an incredibly hot babe.
Blood Car is the sort of movie that I recommend with a bit of trepidation. It has enough entertaining moments to sustain it, but at the same time while you're watching it, the film can feel like a waste of time. With a run time of approximately 76 minutes, there exists enough choice material in Blood Car to make a really solid 35 to 45-minute movie. The only problem is that you will have to sit through the not-so-choice stuff to get to it.
Blood Car is presented in 16x9 widescreen format. The movie was shot on hi-def video, and the image quality is good, as is the picture transfer.
Blood Car is presented in stereo. The sound levels seemed a bit low, but the mix was consistent, so there was no problem hearing the dialog.
Blood Car is packed with bonus materials, but if you're like me, you probably won't be that excited to explore them too much. Nearly an hour of behind the scenes footage is a bit too much, although there are some great moments, like when the guy making the fake blood explains, "The main thing about fake blood is when you slap it against a white wall, if it comes out pink, you have not made fake blood. You've made pink shit." There are two audio commentaries, including one featuring director Alex Orr, co-writer Adam Pinney, stars Brune and Rowlett (which is the one I listened to), and I believe one other person. It is a decent commentary, but with that many people on board, there should never be the moments of complete dead silence that pop up from time to time. The second commentary, which I have yet to listen to, features film scholar Dr. Rutherford Thorpe, whose name only appears in relation to Blood Car when you do a Google search, leading me to believe he is not real. There is also a short film, and few other items that I simply was not compelled to watch.
There are enough entertaining moments--as well as gratuitous boob shots--for me to half-heartedly recommend Blood Car. But renting it as far as I'm willing to go. If you buy it, you can't say I didn't warn you.
David Walker is the creator of BadAzz MoFo, a nationally published film critic, and the Writer/Director of Black Santa's Revenge with Ken Foree now on DVD [Buy it now]