Director Dan Lantz returns with his latest film ‘Blood Runners’, a fun vampire flick set it 1930s prohibition era USA with leading man Ice T playing master vampire ‘Mr Chesterfield’ opposite Micheal McFadden who plays ‘Jack Malone’, a corrupt but dedicated cop who is looking to hunt him down.
The plot opens as we join a group of corrupt police officers making their rounds, shaking down wannabe gangers and taking cuts from booze running. You see prohibition is coming to an end, and as the film explains, at this point no one gives a shit what was being sold, but technically it is still illegal. A perfect opportunity for the police to align themselves with the gangsters of the period, accepting money in return for a blind eye. One such gangster is Mr Chesterfield (Ice T) and his associates, owners of the new ‘speakeasy’ in town. Initially the police begin to hassle the club where Chesterfield does business, ‘investigating’ a tenuous lead that the death of a local girl has something to do with the new establishment. They find Chesterfield and his crew a little odd, but compliant none the less, and a ‘deal’ is done – too compliant it would seem for the greedy cops. Unsatisfied that their ‘cut’ was enough they delve deeper into the clubs ‘business’ and soon discover that they are well out of their depth – it’s not booze they are running and all the bullets in the world won’t help them once tides turn…
The film’s plot is suitably linear, and whilst the movie meanders a little between the vampire’s bloody business, a local whore-house where the police like to frequent and an interesting back story involving Malone’s experiences as a world war 1 sniper the film is something of a joy-ride through the necessary vampire clichés and a series of satisfyingly bloody encounters, and whilst neither push the bar particularly high, but each set piece is enjoyable in its own right.
The film’s main successes come from the attention to detail with regards to its period context. Whilst ultimately the story doesn’t particularly delve deep into any particular historic event of the time – save the end of prohibition giving rise to gangsters - the 1930s setting is refreshing and the filming, costumes and locations are vibrant and in most cases authentic. (Whilst Mr Chesterfield does establish that it was unusual for a black man to own a club, he doesn’t explain where he got the world’s biggest diamond to wear in his ear! 1930s bling?)
In all honest, I jest, here and indeed the film benefits from not taking itself too seriously either.
Whilst it’s not a parody movie by any means, the story flirts with cheesy dialogue and ‘campy’ genre charms/clichés in spades, but somehow manages to develop its character’s well enough that, when the more sensible elements of the film are needed to drive the plot forwards, it can do so with integrity. This is perhaps a testament to the quality of the acting, particularly from the two leads – although Ice T is not used nearly enough, his natural charisma makes for an excellent vampire boss and the film definitely would have benefited from seeing more of him!
The violence in the film is nothing to over the top but, as with many other elements of the film, its simply, entertaining. There is a lot of CGI used in the film from blood spatter to headshots. There are some proper dodgy looking effects used as the vampires move in combat - a kind of weird slow motion effect (and somewhat jarring with the period aesthetics), but then the stylised renditions of the WW1 trenches looked kind of cool. There is no excessive gore, nor anything particularly cruel involved, just a healthy spraying of arterial blood and some gunplay, but it does the job just the same. There is even an effects scene reminiscent of Francis Ford Coppola’s masterpiece which sees the changing of the vampire into one of its animalistic states which looks better than it had any right to!
Overall, if you are looking for a vampire flick to spend 90s minutes with (which doesn’t come complete with a lifetime supply of teenage angst and relationship issues) then you could do far worse. The film has its moments of iffy low budget hang-ups – namely the odd CGI slow motion effects on the part of the vampires, but it overcomes them with pure entertainment value in all other aspects. It chooses a direction and sticks to its guns, never excelling in any area, but being somewhat solid in all.
If it sounds like your sort of thing, I recommend you check out ‘Blood Runners’ when it is released in Feb, 2017.