We’ve reached a point where I’m starting to wonder if there is anything new that can be brought to the vampire genre. They may not be my favorite horror creature, but vampire movies tend to be fun for the most part, and being fun is mostly what we look for when we decide to check out a horror film. Bloodrunners attempts to show us something new, taking us back to the prohibition era of the 1930’s, but is this a trip worth taking? Grab a bottle of hooch and a stake for the road, because it’s nightfall, and I’m about to dive into this vampire tale.
A new club has opened up. It offers up swinging music and most importantly illegal booze that is served on the hush-hush. Trouble is, news about the place travels fast, and it is even frequented by some dirty cops. Running the club is Chesterfield (Ice-T), a smooth band leader who also has been in the illegal hooch selling business for a while. This is a role for which from the start Ice-T was perfectly cast, and as the film progresses, for me it’s his performance that kept me engaged. Despite the modest budget, the club looks more than serviceable; after all, most speakeasy joints were in hidden-away rooms that the police were never supposed to suspect. This is where Jack Malone (Michael McFadden, who also had script writing duties) shows up to shake down the place.
The other main location of the film is in the town’s brothel, where the other off-duty police seem to spend most of their time and money. Sure, this was a common thing, but this just makes the police come off more as the film’s villains than the gangster vampires. When a local girl turns up brutally murdered, the police of course turn their attention to the new guys in town at the Chesterfield, and the tension only boils hotter when a bootleg operation goes bad and instead of booze being found, they find bottled blood.
The best thing the film has going for it is the romance between a busboy at the Chesterfield, Willie (Chris Boylan) and the daughter of a prostitute, Anna (Airen DeLaMater). It’s simple; the two are young lovers who just get caught in the middle of the vampire bootlegging operation. This is the strongest story, but not enough time is spent with them, and instead the story bounces around to Jack and then to the bar and introducing minor characters that seem to offer nothing more than padding to the running time.
When it comes time to gear up and do battle with the vampires, well, this is an eye roll of a doozy. Every action move seems to be thrown into slow motion. Yeah, I appreciate trying to throw in some effects to up the production values, but it becomes a disservice to the film, because the effects just don’t hold up. I can look past some of the issues I have with the performances, but to attempt bullet time during a fight sequence is just a distraction and only points out the mistakes.
While the film has moments where I can appreciate it on a B-movie level, the tone is just uneven. Ice-T is definitely the selling point of the film; had it not been for his charisma, I don’t believe this would even be getting a wide distribution. This is low-budget horror that looks bigger than it is because of the great locations they secured for the film. I can’t help but be a little bummed by the result of this; the bootlegging element is a fun idea to play with, and instead we get a very by-the-book vampire tale.