For as long as I can remember, I've had an interest in foreign films. Most of the films that I've seen have come from Europe or Asia. But now, I've had my first experience with a film from Chile entitled Eternal Blood AKA Sangre Eterna, and it wasn't quite as spicy as I would have expected.
Eternal Blood takes place in the Chilean capital of Santiago and focuses on a group of college students. Carmilla (Blanca Lewin) has an assignment in which she must interview someone, so she approaches goth-guy M (Juan Pablo Ogalde). M is heavily involved in a vampire role-playing game with his friends Elizabeth (Patricia Lopez) and Martin (Claudio Espinoza). As Carmilla gets to know M, she becomes involved in the game as well. There's only one problem, after witnessing a scuffle at a local nightclub, M becomes convinced that there are real vampires amongst the goth community. He begins to urge his friends to avoid a man named Dahmer (Carlos Borquez), as M feels that this man is the leader of the vampires. Is M delusional or is he the only one who can see the truth?
At the outset, it appears that Eternal Blood is going to focus on Carmilla and be similar to Alejandro Amenabar's Tesis, but when the focus shifts to M, the momentum of the film changes as well. The first 40-minutes of the movie, in which we are being introduced into the world of M and the role-playing game, are riveting and contain some fantastic action scenes, which display a generous amount of gore.
But, when the film turns into "Is M crazy?", the pacing changes and the movie goes from clever and interesting to slow and boring. Writer/director Jorge Olguin proves that he contain create complex characters and stage some nifty horror scenes, but the tension that he attempts to create eventually fizzles as the 107-minute film rolls on. The movie contains some fantastic imagery and offers a nice tour of the goth sub-culture (isn't in interesting to think that goth is universal?), and the dark industrial music in the film is great. However, the film's artistic merit can't overcome it's overall lack of story. If Olguin had trimmed about 20-minutes off of this film, and stuck with the original ending (which is offered as an extra feature), then he would have been on to something. Still, as he was the originator of horror films in Chile, he is most likely still honing his craft.
Eternal Blood arrives on DVD from MTI Home Video, as part of their series of Fangoria Films. The film is presented full-frame, although the credits are letterboxed at 1.78:1, and clips included in the special features section are letterboxed as well. So, it's impossible from simply viewing this DVD to ascertain the film's original aspect ratio, but it's safe to say that it was not 1.33:1. The image is sharp and clear for the most part, although there is some grain at times. However, given the film's modest budget, the transfer looks pretty good. Olguin has done a fine job of shooting the film in a moody, dark style and these dark scenes look fine on the DVD. The colors are good, and the action is always visible. There are some mild examples of artifacting and distortion during the film, as well as some mild defects from the source print, but these aren't necessarily distracting.
This DVD contains several audio tracks, but the best one, by far, is the Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 track. This selection provides clear and audible dialogue, with no sign of hissing. Surround sound effects are strong and noticeable during the crowd scenes and the music sounds fantastic on this track. There is also a Spanish 2.0 track, but it doesn't have the same presence. The English 2.0 track is lifeless as well, and the dubbing isn't very good. The disc features yellow English subtitles, which are clear and very easy to read.
The DVD contains several extra features (including an Easter Egg), all of which are in Spanish, giving me the impression that they were originally created for a DVD in a foreign country. The DVD contains a 27-minute "making of" featurette, which contains many clips from Eternal Blood, but also contains a great deal of behind-the-scenes footage, as well as interviews with the cast. Director Olguin offers overviews of each character. Next, we have five deleted scenes, which essentially offer only extra moments from five scenes which exist in the finished film. The alternate ending is presented in three separate sections, and show that Olguin attempted to wrap things up a little more neatly at one time. There are four music videos for songs which are featured in the film. There is a theatrical trailer, which is letterboxed at 1.85:1, and a 30-second TV spot, which is framed at about 1.78:1. Finally, we have a text article entitled "Sangre Eterna: A Game of Death" by Andre Barcinski, which gives a detailed overview of the film. (Did this originally appear in Fangoria?)
I'm glad that I've finally seen a film from Chile, but once again, I must say that I was disappointed. The film begins on a very promising note, but can't maintain any sense of tension. Still, for those interested in vampire role-playing games, or the goth scene, this film may hold some interest, and the first 40-minutes contain two scenes that vampire aficionados should love. The DVD contains a questionable video transfer, but the audio is very good.