As you can see, Blood on a Budget now has a fancy new graphic to go with it’s official launch. We’ve hit our stride and there’s a lot on the horrific horizon from the wicked world of indie and DIY horror. Because of this, I’ve decided to bring you reviews of two bold and bloody flicks, both of which twist Hollywood tropes in frighteningly frugal fashion.
BLOOD: A humorous helping, but not over the top
BUDGET: Approximately $14,000
Overly elaborate titles for films that don’t live up to their preposterous names are a plague on horror cinema. Amazing titles tend to be attached to mediocre movies (e.g., Slaughterhouse of the Rising Sun, Megashark vs. Crocosaurus). There are, of course, exceptions, and this little gem is one, even if it too is emblazoned with as stupefying a name as the rest.
In the first five to ten minutes, we’re introduced to Rodney, who narrowly escapes a drug deal double-cross with only a bullet wound to the head before gaining magical powers (which include acidic vomit and hilariously cheap-looking lightning fingers) from tripping headfirst into the unmarked grave of a Bruja (mixing his blood with her deadness or something like that) and becoming the target of an ensemble of kooky hitmen hired by the drug lords that screwed him over. Think: horror-themed Guy Ritchie film with 100 times the heart at a fraction of the budget.
On first impression RC:PH comes off like a high school A/V Club production, but given a chance it clearly establishes itself as a passion project, with charm to spare. Stupidly crude humour (e.g., two bounty hunters introduce “the new hotness,” huffing microwaved excrement in a jar), preposterous plot points (e.g., the fangle-faced Bruja that creeps around Rodney’s subconscious instructing him to kill), acting of a calibre reminiscent of John Waters’ early ventures and a boisterous helping of gore make for some of the merriest mayhem ever committed to digital video.
Director and star Jordy Dickens (who calls himself the “American Shark”) and his filmmaking cohorts are in the top tier of goofy and gory glee and clearly know the true purpose of indie films (making something that would and could never be perpetrated by Hollywood).
Like a public access horror host, Rodney Cecil is cheesy, cheap, and loves every bit of itself.
BLOOD: A realistic amount, but still quite a bit
If you’re one for agonizing over deformities of the human body, allow me to suggest this Cronenbergian twist on faux found-footage films.
Like a clinical brethren of The Blair Witch Project, this fake documentary focuses its scientific eye on medical worker Regina Stevens (Carley Oates, iCrime) who, along with her live-in boyfriend Ryan (Ryan Shogren, Haber), videotapes an anomaly that’s slowly turning her into a living dead cannibal. Laid out like a medical report, this jargon-heavy entry shows you the video evidence of Regina’s case against her diagnosis as a schizophrenic, an accusation presented in the interrogatory meta-narrative that provides the bookends to the story.
Wordy and drawn-out (much like life) coupled with competent acting and lingering single-camera setups really make this pathological thriller feel like a voyeuristic peek into the lives of real people. Kudos are deserved for its deep examination of a zombie infection (theorizing on the cause, showing the emotional and physical impact in detail) instead of taking the action-packed, attention-deficit approach of other films in the genre.
As far as gory details go, very few were spared: the makeup used for Regina’s deadened face looks naturally hideous, and something you’d definitely think twice about poking a stick at.
This graphic portrayal of a fictional infection may not hold the attention of the more fidgety folk but will have you checking your skin a little closer the next time you get an itch.
Unfortunately Rodney Cecil: Psycho Hero is, so far, only available on DVD in the US. Pretty Dead is currently on the festival circuit but you can find all the information at prettydead.com.