TV Review: American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare - Episode 3
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Friends Teddy and Craig are hanging outside of their local 7-11 when they bump into a couple of cuties named Laura and Rachel that just wanna have fun. Craig woos the girls into joining he and Teddy on a camping trip. The group, with the addition of Rachel's kid brother, sets out for the camping spot, inevitably followed by a clichéd campfire story about a deranged killer that stalks the very woods where the group is currently camping. I'm sure you know the rest: sexual adventures, followed by the realization that the killer is very real.
Ugh, Troma. Those of you who've tolerated my earlier reviews (I kid) know that I'm not the biggest fan of Lloyd Kaufman's baby. Granted, Troma have been giving young filmmakers an edge in showcasing their stuff a la the After Dark Horrorfest and Ghosthouse Underground, so I can't really complain about that. In a tribute to the 80s era of slashers, director Drew Rosas brings us the horror-comedy BLOOD JUNKIE, a film shot on a budget of $7,000 and what appears to be shot on low-grade stock film and featuring a killer who looks like a cross between the miner from MY BLOODY VALENTINE and one of the Sandpeople from STAR WARS. Esthetics aside, does it do the tribute thing justice, or is it another filmmaker going the derivative route?
As I said, the film is an homage to the 80s slasher. The film certainly has the look for it with that low-grade stock, making the film seem like it's straight out of the archives. Combined with a synth score that is reminiscent of John Carpenter's early films, and the 80s vibe is alive and well with this one. Those are only the first pieces to this film that make the throwback. The fashion (it's all about the Olivia Newton-John workout spandex and tights), the dialogue, the set design and more just add to the presentation. Awesome!
Pacing-wise, the film is more up to date with the times. Instead of the long drawn-out segments where nothing much happens, the film features a great editing job and keeps things going for its 72-minute runtime. The film doesn't go full-bore on the red stuff until around the 50-minute mark, but instead features more of a comedic aspect with Nick Sommer's Craig providing much of the comedy. Once things do get turned past eleven, Rosas isn't afraid to go the mean-spirited route with killing characters that we've grown to like for the majority of the film.
As good as it may sound, the film has a few drawbacks, most notably in its homage. Things are a little too derivative, without adding much of a twist to the 80s horror conventions. Plus, depending on how spoiled you are on more modern horror offerings, the dialogue and acting tend to lean towards the overcompensating side of things. I know that it's on purpose, but it might not seem that way to some viewers. Also, the imbalance between the comedy and the horror will turn off some folks, seeing as the red fun doesn't happen until after an hour into the film.
As it stands, BLOOD JUNKIE is a nice little throwback to the trashy slasher cinema that was everywhere during the height of the slasher craze. The presentation and attention to details in the look and feel of the film should be applauded. While the homage schtick may not please everyone for being too derivative at times, the effort is still there to provide some nostalgic entertainment, and that's the big thing.
Video: Presented in 1.78:1 non-anamorphic widescreen, the film isn't exactly something you'd show off on your new big screen. Lack of detail, suspect colour, you know the deal. Granted, the film is an indie affair, so it's expected. Plus, this is Rosas' attempt at a visual style, which I have to give a lot of credit to the guy for pulling this off. Nonetheless, don't expect to be floored.
Audio: The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is again what you'd find given the okayish quality of the transfer. It's presentable, but nothing to rattle your windows over.
First up is an introduction by Debbie Rochon and Lloyd Kaufman, which is basically your typical cheesy Troma intro with the dubbed-in names of the movie and director.
Next is an audio commentary with writer/director Drew Rosas, who starts off the commentary by ripping into mainstream Hollywood for watering down all of his favourite 80s horror films. Fair enough. From there, Rosas details the origins and making of the film, including giving props to his crew and cast for donating their time in helping to make the film, as well as dropping a humourous story here and there. There aren't many gaps of silence in the track, which is good. Overall, this is an informative track that shows how passionate Rosas was about making the film.
Following that is Rosas' 2005 short, PLASTIC FANGS, which follows various folks on the day of Halloween.
Last up is a collection of deleted scenes, the most noteworthy of which being extra footage from the exercise video shown at the beginning of the film, a slideshow gallery and the film's trailer.
A nice tribute to slashers of the 80s while mixing in some humour is a nice treat. The extras are a nice complement, particularly the commentary, though it would've been nice to have had a documentary on the making of the film to wrap things up.