“A trip down memory lane and right into harm’s way.”
From the first frame to the final credit sequence, you will at once feel like you’re watching some lost 1980’s slasher film that was somehow misplaced among the entire generation of low-budget formula horror films. The music sounds almost like a direct rip-off of John Carpenter’s Halloween theme, and that’s not intended as an insult. The cheap synth track was the soundtrack for an entire generation of late-night-date movie-goers from the mid 1970’s until the 80’s ended. Director Drew Rosas is obviously a true fan of the era and genre. I’ve seen too many attempts to capture that look and feel before. But there’s something a little different about this one. Rosas has more than just a sound-alike score going for him. The film stock looks like it was lifted right out of a time warp stuck in 1978. There are even well-placed scratches and dirt artifacts to give the film an aged look. Beyond that, there is a texture to it all that defies coherent description. You know it when you see it, and Drew Rosas apparently knows it, because I saw it on Blood Junkies.
The plot isn’t going to win any awards for originality. Rosas kept things about as simple as possible. Laura (Luther) is supposed to be watching her younger brother while Mom and Dad are away for the weekend. She’s at the local convenience store with her friend Rachel (Treolo) where they meet up with the likes of Craig Wilson (Sommer) who considers himself a super-stud player and expert on the ladies. With lines like “always keep the chicks waiting”, he’s a textbook example of a loser. He’s trying to “school” his buddy Teddy (Johnson) in the ways of women when he spies Laura and Rachel using their sex appeal to score booze from the geek at the counter. Craig invites the two girls to share their score and go camping for the weekend. Rachel talks her into dragging along little brother Andy (Cohen).
It starts with a campfire story about an industrial accident and stories of a depraved killer. Of course, after a little pot smoking, drinking, and backseat gymnastics (all required 80’s slasher elements) they go hiking and discover the abandoned plant where the accident once occurred. That’s where the gas-masked killer (Swant) starts to do a little blood-letting.
The film cost considerably less than $10,000. Most of the locations were “stolen” along the way in local woodlands, although the behind the scenes feature warns about how you should always get your permits. I like the guerilla style of filmmaking here that doesn’t take itself all that seriously while at the same time being very serious about the kind of film they’re trying to make. It’s the typical story of incorporating a lot of friends for volunteers and the kind of shoot where everyone pitches in and does a variety of jobs. It’s a great way to make an amateur film that can turn out better than it has any right to be if you have enough discipline to share a common goal and not lose sight of these goals while still having fun.
There’s not a lot I can say about the cast. They suck. But I think they know that they suck and just don’t care. They’re not making Shakespeare here, and no one on board has any illusions about that. They most often sound like they’re reading their lines. It’s acting of the lowest kind. Still, I was entertained enough by the movie itself that I wasn’t so distracted by the poor performances. I think the secret is that too many bad actors believe they’re great and try way too hard to look good. It creates an even worse kind of performance. I could be wrong here, but I expect most of these guys said, “The heck with it, just do it”. The result is at least honest. Combined with Rosas’ constantly moving cinematography, the movie doesn’t give you the chance to think about what isn’t there.
Finally, the gore effects are as bad as the acting. If the f/x crew went to through Tom Savini’s training school, they missed a ton of classes. Rosas decides to turn a disadvantage into an advantage and puts them out there for you to laugh at. Rosas doesn’t overstay his welcome here. The film is barely longer than 70 minutes. They get in and out, leaving you entertained but without taxing you along the way. It’s a smart move. It’s perfect Troma stuff from beginning to end.
Blood Junkie is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. This is extreme low-budget filmmaking that is intended to look old and worn. That means this thing looks rather rough. It’s supposed to look like a 16 mm you might have found in your attic, complete with dirt and scratches. The color is desaturated, and there isn’t anything new and shiny about what you’re going to get. But there is a ton of atmosphere and texture that is rather clever and should be appreciated.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track is a bit minimalistic, to say the least. Much of the dialog sounds like bad ADR work; again I suspect it’s all intentional. The synth score often overpowers and distorts … just like they did in all of those cheapie 80’s slasher flicks. You get what you expect, or you are in the wrong place entirely here.
Deleted Scenes: (9:23)
Plastic Fangs: (11:50) It’s a short film by Rosas that I really didn’t like. It looks like it’s building up to this huge surprise ending. The real surprise ends up being: “Is that it?”
Tromatic Extras: These are the typical shorts and fun tidbits that Troma includes on most of their DVD releases, including a film intro that is really a joke.
It’s all supposed to be old school and camp. If you’re into that sort of thing, this film will bring out some nostalgia and a few laughs. But that’s okay, really. You’re not laughing at this film crew because they’re laughing with you. “We may encounter some partial turbulence … that’s normal.”