MARCH 6, 2011
As some of you know, I bought a new (used) car last week, and thus just “enjoyed” my first fill-up just as gas prices were once again skyrocketing. Sadly, even though the new car gets better gas mileage than my last one, the tank is smaller, so I’ll probably have to fill it just as often if not more so – bad timing, BC! However it was excellent timing with regards to watching Blood Car, which is about a world where no one drives because gas costs too much, leading our “hero” to invent a new engine that runs on, you guessed it, blood.
So it becomes a Little Shop Of Horrors type deal, where he gets in over his head keeping the thing running in order to impress a girl he likes. At first he’s feeding it pets (dog lovers should steer clear), and then a car-jacker, but ultimately he’s picking up hitchhikers and tossing homeless folks into the thing (the trunk is retrofitted with a giant blade that cuts the victim up and funnels the blood into the tank), while going crazy.
And for a while it’s pretty fun and funny, but like a lot of ridiculous concept movies, the 3rd act stumbles. Archie gets kidnapped by some government agents who want the Blood Car, a subplot that is neither particularly funny or well implemented, and these folks are the focus for most of the final 30 minutes. Also, he loses his grip on reality and begins eating meat at a barbecue joint (he’s a vegan hippie at the start of the film – he was trying to find a way for the car to run on wheatgrass when some blood found its way into the engine) in a surreal sequence that goes on forever and doesn’t really have much to do with anything. A shockingly (and hilariously) grim final scene sort of saves it at the last minute, but it’s a shame that their plotting caused me to lose interest in a 75 minute movie about a car that ran on blood.
I was also a bit confused about the movie’s stance on vegan types. Archie the vegan is trying to save the world but becomes a huge unlikable asshole, and the meat-eating slut almost becomes sort of sympathetic by the end – so do they side with the folks that understand that steak and burgers are the best things in the world? But at the same time, Archie is the one trying to solve the gasoline problem that everyone else has seemingly ignored, so we’re back to him being “right” again. I assume they just did whatever they thought was funny, regardless of how it came across in the grand scheme of things.
And it is indeed funny. There’s a terrific bit where a car-jacker complains that it will cost about 450 bucks to fill the tank (gas is seen to cost 36 dollars a gallon) and then Archie corrects him on his math, resulting in the car-jacker actually doing the multiplication on a piece of paper to see who was right – I love shit like that. The movie also offers one of the best sight gags in recent memory, when Anna Chlumsky’s (!) character, who has a crush on Archie, is seen doodling an image of her performing oral pleasure on him while complimenting him on his tofu-tasting semen. Also: human fire truck – you have to see it for yourself.
There were a couple things that I just didn’t get, however. One – why was Archie so repulsed by Chlumsky’s character? She’s cute as hell, she’s all over him, and they have a lot in common – they really should have explained what his problem was there (or at least hired a far less appealing actress). Two – what is up with the backwards license plate? I get that they wanted to make the locale sort of ambiguous (it was shot in Georgia), but wouldn’t no license plate, or a generic fake one for “Pleasantdale” or something make a lot more sense and be far less distracting? I guess number 3 would be why he bothered taking off the homeless vet’s fake legs before tossing him in when he never took their clothes off, but since that paid off with a hilarious punchline (he only gets half a tank of fuel out of it) I’ll let it slide.
I’m less willing to forgive the bulk of the bonus material, however. There’s a cast and crew commentary that seems edited by a drunk child with two VCRs – people dip in and out, the movie’s soundtrack is sometimes muted, sometimes louder than the people talking, no one seems to be in the same room with anyone else, and worst of all it’s just plain boring and filled with a lot of gaps, which you’d think with 6-7 people would never be a concern (it’s almost worth listening to for when one of the participants suggests that “If you have money and you still shoot on video, you’re a schmuck”, however). Then there’s a 40+ minute behind the scenes feature that’s just a series of random bits with no interviews or any sort of cohesion, seemingly not even edited from the original DV camera it was shot with (there are several quick “bursts” in between shots, as if someone accidentally hit record for a second, or rewound the tape to record over something but didn’t quite cue it up properly). The only thing I got out of the experience was a rather ironic shot of a gas station taken during production, with the current gas prices at around 2.40 a gallon. So essentially, I would rejoice at the thought of paying the prices that they thought were so high that they had to make a spoof movie about it. Another five or six minutes of disc space is wasted on Mike Brune (who plays Archie) delivering a “Presidential Speech” that his buddies all seem to think is hilarious, but when they intercut it with him giving the speech to what appears to be a film festival crowd, you can see that no one else finds it amusing (kudos to including the audience’s disinterest on their own DVD though). There’s also a short film but I skipped it, because based on pretty much everything else I suspected it wouldn’t be worth my time.
The trailer, however, is quite fun and worth a look, and if you fast forward through the making of stuff you’ll get to a 20 minute piece about the creation of the fake blood used in the film’s original title sequence (which was ultimately cut) – you can tell where it begins because the aspect ratio changes. Why these two pieces were melded together, I don’t know, but the guy does offer a pretty good recipe for fake blood and he’s pretty enjoyable to listen to while he makes it, telling random anecdotes about getting flat tires and professing his love for Dead Alive (he hasn’t seen I Spit On Your Grave though). It’s a shame most folks would probably give up on the making of before this segment begins. Finally, there’s a (fake) film historian commentary that’s not exactly a riot, but it’s certainly more fun than the real commentary, and the speaker shoots himself with 10 minutes to go, so you can be done with it quicker to boot.
So it’s uneven and doesn’t quite stick the landing, but it’s a nutty concept and frequently quite amusing, and it’s too short to really get annoyed with (as long as you are on board with their brand of humor). Plus it’s nice to see My Girl all grown up, and any movie that makes fun of vegan food is OK by me.
What say you?