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Life Blood

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Release Date: 
Chelsea Films
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Directed by: 
Ron Carlson
Sophie Monk
Anya Lahiri
Charles Napier
Scout Taylor-Compton
Angela Lindvall
Bottom Line: 
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The vampire genre seems to be in something of a state of flux at present, vying between the box office gold of teen idol fantasy-based fodder that’s mostly aimed at the adolescent  market at one end of the spectrum, and the gritty, slice-of-life adult drama of films like “let The Right One In” at the other. There’s a wide area between these two poles, meaning vampires are tending to crop up everywhere you look in film and television, albeit in something of a neutered, more photogenic form than seems healthy for the genre. “Life Blood” has all the hallmarks of a rather last-minute cobbled together attempt to exploit this new trend for attractive bloodsuckers on film. Apparently pitched as a tongue-in-cheek (as opposed to teeth-in-neck) lesbian vampire flick (no one seems interested in making truly erotic lesbian vampire fiction, these days), it comes across as being in several minds just what exactly it is trying to achieve. What we end up with is a minor flick that’s a bit of a grab bag of ideas, none of which seem to have been particularly thought through. Starting out under the none specific title “Pearblossom” before switching to the more vampire-generic “Life Blood” for this UK DVD release from Chelsea Films, writer-director Ron Carlson shows intermittent signs of ingenuity and a talent for offbeat fantasy with this low budget but nice-looking piece of work, but his efforts are diluted by too much of a scattergun approach to story development that leads to a screenplay that feels bity, episodic and incomplete. 

The film starts off as if in parody of Russ Meyer’s 1970 film “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls”, with a lengthy prologue set in 1968 – which might explain why the film has the feel of a much earlier sixties piece, because Meyer’s film was itself already a parody of its 1967 predecessor “ Valley of the Dolls”. Charles Napier will crop up a little later in the movie, as if to lend credence to this view.  At a hip new years’ eve gathering of trendy types and good-looking actors, quarrelsome but glamorous ‘lipstick’ lesbians Brooke (Sophie Monk) and Rhea (Anya Lahiri) get themselves into all sorts of hot water after Brooke stumbles upon predatory Hollywood A-lister Warren James (Justin Shlilton) attempting to force himself on a teenage fan in the bathroom. She reacts with instinctive rage and plunges a hairpin into his throat … then stabs him a further eighty times just to make sure. As she and her girlfriend flee the scene, Brooke is a little piqued that Rhea appears to show more concern for the murdered would-be rapist than she does for his victim, and the two girls get into a tiff. When Brooke runs over a desert possum, she begins to think she might be cursed.

Then, out of nowhere, God appears in the form of a flame-haired ethereal nude in wispy chiffon robes (Angelia Lindvall). She makes all sorts of cooing noise at Rhea and tells her that she has been selected to become an angelic warrior, whose mission it is to ensure another cleansing biblical deluge never becomes necessary by destroying the forces of evil wherever they may lurk on earth. Rhea promptly finds herself transformed into a vampire! Now far be it from me to question a nude, flame-haired, lesbian incarnation of the Lord – but is that really the wisest way of destroying evil? As if to compound this rather questionable decision, God also elects to make the flighty Brooke a vampire as well, because Rhea can’t bear to be without her. For forty years, the two scanty-clad undead angels rest beneath the sands of the town of Pearblossom” waiting to be resurrected by the Lord. But when that moment comes forty years later in 2008, Brooke reacts rather more ‘full-bloodedly’ to her newfound undead status than the sanguine Rhea, and promptly sets off on a kill crazy rampage across town, winding up in a crumbling all-nite convenience store, appropriately named Murdersville, where unsuspecting clerk Dan (Patrick Renna) is about to experience the most memorable shift of his life.

The colourful Meyer ‘60s pastiche of the opening gives way to a rather more orthodox concern with promoting the pneumatic charms of a half-naked Sophie Monk (“The Hills Run Red”) who appears for the entire film wearing  nothing but a semi-transparent vest and white panties. British model Anya Lahiri is similarly scantily attired and their present day escapades are played out amongst a broadly comic backdrop of mildly eccentric characters such as a dwarf police deputy (Danny Woodburn) and Charles Napier’s bullish, granite-faced Sheriff Tillman, as well as numerous feckless truckers or day trippers the vampire girls meet whilst on the road. Meanwhile, Rhea tries, rather unsuccessfully, to stop Brooke killing anyone she happens upon. They attempt to rest in Dan’s store for the day (the film still adheres strictly to the lore that says vampires cannot interact with sunlight) which soon becomes the site of a bloody siege and a great deal of gory violence thanks to an unrepentant Brooke. Monk relishes her role as the evil blonde bombshell, completely overshadowing her co-star who disappears for most of the film’s runtime even though she’s supposed to be the heroine. Napier is perfectly cast as the tough small-town lawman and Woodburn is sympathetic and funny as the diminutive deputy.

After we have got over the fact that the camp ‘60s parody element was a bit of a red herring all along, the latter half of the film seems to be building quite nicely into an entertaining piece of violent comic horror before it somehow seems to just peter out and end, right at the moment that it feels like the film should really be exploding into a huge climax. Curiously, a look at the minor extras that are also included on the DVD -- which consist of a Hodgepodge of extended scenes, deleted scenes and alternative scenes (of various stages of completion – some are even without sound) -- reveals that the lesbian angle has been greatly played down: an alternative title sequence included in this section inter-cuts the credits with a tastefully edited lesbian sex scene between Monk and Lahiri – an element entirely absent from the finished cut. As it stands you could easily watch the whole film without picking up that the two girls are meant to have been lovers!

The Chelsea Films DVD features a nice anamorphic transfer with strong colours and solid blacks. The audio offers robust 5.1 Surround Sound or the 2.0 Stereo option. The extra material mentioned above runs for about 17 minutes.

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