Sunday, August 12, 2012


A man runs down an alley to his car and frantically tries to start it. Too late. They've caught up with him. A gang of stoney faced men attack his car with what look like spears or pikes but soon are revealed to be large lethal crucifixes. They are on the car roof piercing the metal with the crosses, screaming. Their leader, something out of the Salem witch trials, stands on the ground, laughs maniacally at the carnage and praises god for the victim. Roll titles.

Titles and credits are intercut with images of further carnage connected this time with a trio of young groovers. Drugs, sex, violence, highlife. Persistent through this montage is a haunting image of a naked man suspended by his ankles, his entire hairless body spattered with blood.

That's the movie in a few minutes. By the end of it you should be in no doubt whatever of what you are about to see. If you are in doubt then you are probably going to have to continually calculate how you are going to report it as stylish irony. If you are like that you will miss everything you are about to see. Watch a Wes Anderson movie as a palette cleanser and you'll feel better. (I can't believe I just typed that, even in jest!)

For the rest of us, it's a ride with three urban vampires of a decidedly non-gothic breed who prey upon the groovesters of any town they find themselves in, staging heists and tearing it up at the local clubs. Brother Bem (Salem-Witch-Trials-Man) and his team of virgins are in brimstone-hot pursuit as are the local mob boss (heisted by the vamps) and his gang of decidedly non-virginal thugs and two cops that are bent as a rat's knee. Oh, and weaponry! This the first time I've noticed the credit "Armourer" as well as a roll call of all the weapons that make an appearance.

Anyone else from Melbourne where this film was shot will notice that things seem to be a tad screwy as far as location goes. One of the cops twangs his way through a rebel states draw-wel and knocks back tins of Bud while his partner is all Melbourne gruff until about halfway through when he seems to have taken up the southern cop chicken pickin drawl. The deadly holy rollers similarly begin private school but soon enough twang out to ol'Alabam. A business card for a local car dealer is repeatedly shown with its owner's thumb covering the location Richmond. This is not Melbourne. No, I'm not going all Magritte on youse, I mean it's Exploitationville and it wants you to forget about the setting and dig the gig.

This is not a film about the essential chaos in mankind or the transmigration of souls through the element of evil to redemption in annihilation, it's about bad guys being chased by worse guys, some torture, boundary-breaking sex, fun with drugs and cars and weapons, lots of weapons. Shot number one tells you it was done on analogue video (and NOT ironically!) We're straight into the action from the word go and we won't be leaving it. Don't look for character development or theme, do some weapon spotting, instead, and you'll have a good time.

There is awkward pacing from editing here and from uneven acting there. There is overstatement in the writing as well as the performances which causes damage to the flow of the action. There are some good turns (all hail John Flaus as the festishist) and more than a few visual compositions to let you know someone on board has an eye. Does that create a balance? Not really; the schlock VHS-only mission the film is on overrides any steps towards mainstream cinema and gets down to the objective. Those conventional tidbits, while not flukes, are, and can only ever be, secondary to the gore, explosions (which effects, by the way, lift this well above student work) and general badassedness, however hampered that might be.

This experience will not turn anyone whose idea of good cinema is determined by production values alone (such folk need to be honest about the quality of the average slop in their multiplexes, though). It probably won't win many from the opposite camp who pounce joyfully on low production values in hope of finding depth in rawness. Bloodlust has flaws? Guilty as charged but in its defence as a locally produced film made without a cent of bureaucratic money or publicly funded approval, it provides something that embarrassing over-awarded bullshit like Candy or Somersault or The Burning Man don't for a second of their combined screen time: a celebration of its audience.

Get Twilight or The Hunger out of your heads and think early Peter Jackson or even the silly but effective Nadja. This is fun. Laboured and wincey fun now and then, but fun all the same. Spin it!

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