Koch Vision // 2005 // 83 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 14th, 2006
Glimpses at the future sickos of cinema.
Another buffet of disturbing little flicks from the unknown horror filmmakers of our day, Blood Drive 2 boasts a better set of movies that its predecessor.
The Fangoria "Blood Drive" is a contest sponsored by the magazine to encourage amateur filmmakers to submit their short horror films. Of the submissions, a handful are chosen as the winners, and share the spotlight on this DVD, this giving some national exposure to these up-and-coming horror auteurs. This disc represents the second Blood Drive, and includes the eight winners for this year, as well as couple of nifty though unrelated extra features.
Let's take a look at this year's haul:
* We All Fall Down by Jake Kennedy
Easily the most "professional-looking" of the bunch, this creepy vengeance tale is rife with interesting sets, great lighting, solid visual effects, and an overall smooth look (thanks to the digital source). This 13-minute tale tells of a group of friends who accidentally kill a young Japanese girl, then attempt to get rid of her body in an abandoned warehouse. What follows is a lot of jump scares and some great atmosphere, as one of the friends tries to find out what happened to her husband when he went to the warehouse to move the body.
Where the film succeeds is in the look, but the substance is derivative of a mish-mash of other films. And of course there's the ever-popular "creepy-ass looking little girl that moves weird" gimmick, used to its fullest extent. Still, an effective, if rather unoriginal, piece of horror.
* The Gibbering Horror of Howard Ghormley by Steve Daniels
Now this on the other hand, is full-on imagination. This black and white, Super-8 film has no dialogue and no linear storyline, but is simply a marvel of ingenuity. The story is simple: a lone man on a bike travels back and forth to an old house, reading cryptic messages and trying to enter. One day, the door opens, and he soon finds himself in a crazy world of horrors. The twist at the end is predictable, but still a good one.
What makes the film so remarkable is the cleverness of the shots. Daniels discovers new ways to film a man riding a bike, and there were many times I was agog at how he got some of the shots. The tension is escalated when Ghormley gets into the house and the $&%# hits the fan, and Daniels' cinematography reflects it. Basically, this is a little masterpiece of a film that my words can't do justice.
* Means to an End by Paul Solet and Jake Hamilton
The funniest and goriest of the batch, this nasty little number revels in its blood and guts, which is sometimes hard to watch. It tells the story of two ambitious, yet stupid, special effects artists looking to create the ultimate gore gags. After much rejection by directors who don't share their intense vision, they take it upon themselves to craft the effects -- even if it means doing them for real. For gorehounds, this flick is the ticket; I don't even want to think about that shower/grater scene again. But the ending is lame and the overall tone is goofy. Still, it's fun and oozy.
* Mainstream by Adam Barnick
The obligatory "experimental" film of the bunch. This nearly dialogue-free creep-out has some kind of message about corporate submission and the loss of independence, but I'm too sleepy to delve into it. Mainstream focuses almost wholly on some poor sap on a metal gurney getting abused and prodded by all sorts of menacing machines. It's very well-done and looks great, but frankly, isn't necessarily my cup of tea. Still, I know moves when I see them, and Barnick has 'em in spades.
* Disposer by BC Furtney
This six-minute film is basically one prolonged sick joke with an insane punch line. But it's pretty funny, in that demented kind of way. Some guy connects with a potentially horny young woman and begins to engage in a round of lukewarm phone sex. It's only when they reach the, er, climax, do we see what really turns this girl on. And that's all I've got to say about that.
* The Journal of Edmond Deyers by William Rot
This may be my least favorite of the collection, but not because it's necessarily bad. William Rot (hmmm, birth surname or not?) has crafted a fine-looking short, telling the story of a pair of detective on the hunt for a lunatic killer. They have only the testimony of a surviving victim and a mysterious journal recovered at the crime scene to go on. But as one of the detectives contemplates the murder, it may be too late to stop the killer.
* Sawbones by Brad Palmer
In an interesting genre twist, director Brad Palmer sets his blood-soaked work in the 1800s. The period piece approach serves the short well, which documents that slowly deteriorating mental condition of a battlefield surgeon of the Civil War, who may have amputated one limb too many. This is straight-forward, horror filmmaking, flush with Karo syrup and a nifty little twist at the end. Too bad some of the soldiers' haircuts make them look like employees of Abercombie and Fitch.
* Working Stiff by Erik A. Candiani
The last selection is a twisted version of Office Space. A bored cubicle worker hates his job and his coworkers, and is surprised one day to hear that the CEO of the company wants a word with him. With trepidation he journeys to subbasement netherworld where his CEO has his office, and is horrified to discover the true nature of the company he works for. A creative filming approach, which weaves comic book panels with the live action and some excellently gross imagery mark the highlights. I thought the ending was kind of a cop-out, but dude with barbed wire wrapped around his face was dope.
All in all, this is a better selection of shorts than the disc before it. There is more variety, the filmmaking is innovative and -- gasp! -- not a zombie movie in sight! If you're a horror fan I'd suggest giving this disc a look.
Each short is accompanied by commentary from the Blood Drive creators and preceded by an introduction from some leather-clad girl named "Mistress Juliya." A 15-minute Bruce Campbell interview is entertaining and candid ("Let some other jerk play Ash!") and the tour of the KNB effects studio is cool. Though not really connected to the actual films, these two bonuses are a nice treat for horror fans.
A nice sampling of the depraved minds that may be lurking with a video camera near you. Check it out.
Review content copyright © 2006 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Koch Vision
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 83 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Commentary with Blood Drive Creators
* Featurette with Bruce Campbell
* KNB Studio Tour
* Fangoria: Blood Drive Review