Hot off the presses comes a living cinematic tribute to the supernatural sexploitation films of the seventies, written by none other than Chris Alexander, the editor in chief of Fangoria Magazine BLOOD FOR IRINA is a Blu-ray cinematic tribute to the works of Franco, Rollin and countless other vampire films from the seventies where fake teeth and real breasts were utilized, often overexposed in every scene to truly put the “vamp” in vampire. Let us take a look at this BLOOD FOR IRINA and see if it contains cares enough to supply entertainment sustenance for the rest of us.
Largely without spoken dialogue and containing only three constant actors, Blood For Irina largely comes across as a bizarre, stylized montage silent exposition of the life story of a female, ancient (but of course young looking Vampire in the prime of her life) who has been getting too “long in the tooth” as of late and suffers from a physical sickness, if not an apparent all-encompassing weariness of life in general that is probably beyond the overblown malaise ridden sensibility of most teenage Goth kids. The other two characters in the film are a streetwalker and a serial killer both of whom seem somehow obsessed with our titular vampire despite the inherent danger of this and by the time this tale of done, these fellow creatures of the night will embark on a passionate love triangle that is entirely sexless, sad and will ultimately take none of these lost souls to a place where none of them might have chosen to be. I will not discuss the plot in this film further, because anything more I could possibly say about it would surely destroy the loose premise of this thing.
As for the 70’s sensibility this film struggled so hard to simulate, several of this films facets are spot on… Irina is a long haired pretty Vampire with long hair down to her bosoms and a trickle of blood pouring out of either side her face like so much make up. It should be noticed that the blood in this film has a distinctive “red paint” quality to it, similar to that of the ancient Italian horror films and it was a look I thought I would never see again. Another unique facet is the dilapidated hotel room where much of this film takes place. Such films from so long ago were notorious for using any run down building as the “vampires lair” for most of the interior shots and for this modern bloodsucker who feeds upon the white trash residents of a small seaside town as prey, this setting seems run down and more impossibly authentic than any Romanian castle. Granted this film was created on a budget just like originals were, and admittedly the use of a single interior set for most of the scenes is not an uncommon thing in most of the films I review, but the claustrophobic sadness of this particular film’s hotel sets couldn’t have been better if they would have an endless budget and filmed all scenes in a dedicated studio. Of course such onscreen mixtures of eroticism and horror were always based on dark minimalism over budget as basic aesthetic so it doesn’t take much to impress me.
However there are some problems with this, as there often is when a director expresses his love for a long dead genre of film by choosing to ignore the technical advancements that have come along over the last decades and is bound by the modern R rating of mass market appeal and maximum retailer distribution. For one thing, this new imagining of an erotic vampire movie from the Grindhouse era contains no nudity whatsoever. For a film that chooses to capture the bizarre, goofy retelling about the predatory female vampires of the seventies, whose primary M.O. always involved seduction this is an unbelievable oversight. Finally, the whole film seems completely malingering; slow paced whether you are talking about the plot which eventually develops or the actual scenes of the movie which appear to play out in slow motion while grating music plays blaringly in the background. While the vampire movies of the seventies were largely infused with classical music overtures, what we get here is assorted, occasional BLARING synthesizer riffs designed to stress the eardrums as much as the constant cinematic close-ups of blood slowly trickling everywhere (and somehow nowhere at the same time) are designed to sicken the stomach of most casual horror viewers (or in my case, bore them to sleep). Despite the gallons of blood dripping in slow motion in various scenes of this film any thirty seconds of this movie looks like it was taken from a music video and every onscreen action seems some manner of brooding.
While it wasn’t my thing, fans of Jean Rollin will adore this because some of the loose stylistic nuances. I will say that Blood for Irina was artistically, exquisitely filmed even if I personally did not find any delight in the film whatsoever. As any overtly artistic film, you should not expect much by way of plot so much as the sensation of being lost in a bewildering cinematic screen saver, which, in this case, is a largely incoherent 70’s slow motion cinema slaughterhouse.
Extra Features include an incredible amount of behind the scenes material including various trailers, director’s commentary, out takes and a small featurette about the crummy Rivera hotel where this film was filmed (and has now been since demolished).
This film won the Best Experimental Feature of the Pollygrind Underground Festival of 2012, the Best Film from the Philip K Dick Film Festival of 2012 and The Best Film and Director from Buffalo Screams 2012.
Thanks to Autonomy Pictures for the Advance Copy of this just-released Blu Ray version.