Thursday, 7 March 2013

It’s hard to define what exactly makes a cult movie but gleefully throwing a baby into the ravenous maw of a carnivorous car probably counts - Blood Car

Blood Car

In the future, like, two weeks from now, the cost of gasoline has risen so dramatically ($36 a gallon!) that the global economy has ground to a halt, everyone now walks or cycles and only the very rich can afford to drive.  Teenagers still have sex in cars but the cars are stationary, stacked high in junkyards. 

Sweet, well-meaning, vegan kindergarten teacher Archie (Ashton Kutcher-alike Mike Brune) spends his days reading right-on kids books like Tibet: The Land That Cried to his students and spends his nights working on his own eco-friendly car engine that will run on the wheatgrass he buys from the veggie juice stand run by the gawky and besotted Lorraine (My Girl’s Anna Chlumsky, all growed up).

His experiments fail miserably until one night he gets drunk, cuts himself and accidentally contaminates the wheatgrass with his blood.  The engine roars to life and Archie drains a little blood from his own veins to go cruising around the neighbourhood.  Showing off the working car to Lorraine, he attracts slutty maneater Denise (Katie Rowlett) who runs the meat stand next to the veggie stand.  Pretty soon she’s leading Archie astray, introducing him to the delights of kinky sex and barbequed meat.  But Denise only dates guys with cars and Archie’s car needs blood.  Casting aside his vegan principles, Archie experiments with animal blood only to discover there’s just no substitute for human blood and lots of it.  As Archie is driven to ever more desperate measures to feed the car’s hunger and his sanity starts to disintegrate, a shadowy government agency is watching…

It’s hard to define what exactly makes a cult movie but gleefully throwing a baby into the ravenous maw of a carnivorous car probably counts.  Made in 2007 and a hit at film festivals around the world (I first saw it at 2008’s Edinburgh Film Festival) Alex Orr’s Blood Car might be a little tasteless (ok, a lot tasteless) but there’s just something inherently funny about a weeping vegan tearfully culling the neighbourhood’s pets (cue a montage of cute, waggy-tailed dogs and cuddly kittens being shot) just so he can get laid.  Tongue firmly in cheek, Orr lines up his sacred cows and takes a bolt gun to their heads as Archie, filled with the best of intentions, degenerates into madness.  Feeding his elderly dead neighbor to his car could be seen as conscientious recycling and you could argue that the carjacker who attacks him has it coming but pretty soon he’s bundling disabled war veterans into his hungry engine (the artificial limbs jamming the works) before graduating to cruising for busty, gullible hitchhikers who think they’re about to see some puppies right before Archie tosses them into the whirling blades hidden in his trunk.  From there it’s just a short hop to chasing government agents down the street with an axe, covered in blood and howling like a banshee, as the film succumbs to it’s own delirious insanity.

While they won’t win any awards, the performances are arch and suit the film’s garish, primary-coloured tone.  Mike Brune’s Archie makes for an awkward, sweet but self-absorbed hero and his physical resemblance to Ashton Kutcher can’t help but make you think of Dude Where’s My (Blood) Car?, his descent into psychosis hilarious and deftly played.  Archie knows what he’s doing is unspeakably wrong, betraying every principle he’s ever had, but he’s not going to let that stop him.  Chlumsky is gorgeous and gawky, reminding you how good she was as a child actress and making you wonder why she’s fallen so far off the radar while Katie Rowlett tears into her role as white-trash femme fatale Denise, a dominant, tequila-fuelled trollop who’s into watersports and strap-ons, gleefully spitting out all the best lines in the movie.

Cheerfully offensive and ultra-low budget, Blood Car is a dark, satirical throwback to the early exploitation flicks of Roger Corman, movies like A Bucket Of Blood or Little Shop Of Horrors.  The film sticks pretty close to the formula of these cheapo classics; a geek finds acceptance, is seduced by fame/sex/power and, having had a taste of the good life, goes to increasingly demented lengths to hang on to it.  It’s not rocket science and Orr and company don’t pretend for a second that it is, but it’s unpretentious, surprisingly charming fun with a subversive, anti-corporate undercurrent.  “Killing people for fuel is not racist.  It’s patriotic,” an ultra-cool government agent tells Archie, seducing the hapless twerp with visions of power and glory, hammering home the film’s message that America’s thirst for oil costs lives.

Smart, funny and gloriously absurd, Blood Car has everything you want in in a low-budget, post-modern horror movie; sex, violence, laughs, buckets of blood and a high ideal or two.  Buckle up for a gore-splattered guilty pleasure.

David Watson

Alex Orr
Hugh Braselton, Alex Orr, Adam Pinney
Mike Brune, Ann Chlumsky, Katie Rowlett
Running time
76 minutes

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