Blood Car is a hard one to place – at times titillating and inspired, at others self-indulgent or just plain awful. Set in the future, “like, two weeks from now”, where the American automobile industry has collapsed under the weight of astronomical fuel prices, the film follows vegan kindergarten teacher Archie’s unsuccessful attempts to develop an engine that runs on wheatgrass… unsuccessful that is until he spills a drop of his blood into the mixture. What follows is a bloody descent into madness, espionage, multiple homicide and golden showers as Archie tries to maintain his new sexual and social standing as a car driver. His new status as a man with wheels makes him attractive to the insatiable meat-stall owner and petrol-head Denise, and soon Archie is hooked on sex and, inevitably, killing.
Despite its wry, black humour and bizarre premise Blood Car seems desperate rather than destined to achieve cult status. This is more Little Shop of Horrors-Lite than Evil Dead and writer-director Alex Orr fails to achieve any real originality to the grind-house moments and lacks a cynical, social-political bite, either of which being necessary criteria to join the lofty pantheon inhabited by Sam Raimi, Roger Corman et al. With your average contemporary teen-trash films, of the Shark Night and Piranha 3D ilk, boasting relatively slick production values and plenty of over ramped gore and sex, Blood Car, despite picking up a smattering of awards from the festival circuit, feels like a comparatively tame student production.
That said; there are some inventive and genuinely enjoyable gags and one-liners. One such pastiche sees hapless vegan Archie, in an attempt to satisfy his car’s bloodlust, weeping as, armed with an air rifle, he attempts to kill a friendly puppy that just wont die. Then there’s the fascination appeal of seeing how the career of My Girl’s Anna Chlumsky has panned out, remember her? Manfully swallowing any lingering vestiges of pride and dignity, Chlumsky puts in one of the few solid performances as sweet and speccy love interest Lorraine who supplies Archie with wheatgrass.
Orr makes the most of what is clearly a very low budget and matches it with a lowbrow humour and ethos that fully embraces the B-movie sensibility. The film is full of broad, overblown, borderline racist or sexist caricatures and it’s disarming goofiness and overt vulgarity often masks a dark undertone that encompasses totalitarianism and the exploitation of humanity by way of the American dream. Orr doesn’t shy away from using infanticide and state execution for cheap laughs too but unfortunately he lacks the satirical chutzpah to carry this off – merely unsettling or alienating his audience. A government agency speech at the film’s finale seems intended to be evocative, apocalyptic and insane but again the writing lets the film down and it ends up feeling simply ridiculous and ill conceived.
Admittedly Blood Car is often fun or, at the very least, unconventional yet whilst the ride certainly has its highlights the end result is ultimately a car crash.
Words > Chris McQuire