Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Blood and Donuts (1995)

Title: Blood and Donuts (1995)

Director: Holly Dale

Cast: Gordon Currie, Louis Ferreira, Helen Clarkson, David Cronenberg


Blood & Donuts is this very strange kind of film, I caught it on VHS back in 1995 when it was first released and immediately fell in love with it because of this strange sort of vibe that it exudes. I mean, I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s the fact that it’s one of these films that takes place entirely during the nighttime, there’s something about movies that take place during the night; they have the weirdest characters and this eerie sort of vibe to them that I enjoy a lot, the dark empty streets, the dim glow of the street lights, the fog, the shadows, the moon. Two movies come to mind that are like this: Martin Scorcese’s After Hours (1985) and Sam Raimi’s Crimewave (1985), cue ‘The Freaks Come Out at Night’ by Whodini. These type of films focus on those unique individuals who enjoy the wee hours of the night; I am one of these individuals, in fact, if it was by me, I’d work during the night and sleep during the day, just like a vampire. There’s less of a hassle to life during these hours, less people out, no scalding hot sun, no traffic jams  and no stress. The downside of course is that this is the time for the ghouls to emerge; in the case of Blood & Donuts we’re talking about vampires, taxi drivers with thick New York accents, 24 Hour Donut Shop employees and wannabe gangsters who work for David Cronenberg; welcome to the strange world of Blood & Donuts.

The story focuses on an age old vampire named Boya. When we first meet him, Boya is sleeping the sleep of the undead, when suddenly, a  golf ball breaks through the window of the basements where he rests and awakens him from a 25 year old slumber. He is then faced with having to adjust to the 90’s. He knows no one, and for a time is all alone in the world. Thankfully he has some clothes and money buried inside of an old tomb which he unearths. Later he befriends Earl, a taxi driver and falls for a Donut and Coffee shop employee named Molly. He now has to protect these two friends from a pair of gangsters who have unfinished business with Earl while at the same time dealing with a vengeful ex-girlfriend, it's not easy being a vampire!  

For me the main attraction with Blood & Donuts is how offbeat it is. The performances are quirky and unpredictable as is the rest of the film which by the way is very low-key. This isn’t a film about legions of vampires fighting werewolves or a film with an emphasis on gore or action. Nope, this film is more personal and minimalist in nature, it’s an artsy fartsy sort of vampire flick, which of course makes it unique in my book. The scope of the story centers on these two gangsters who want to use Earls taxi to  conduct their gangster business. If they have someone they want to go and kill, they want Earl to drive them there. Of course, Earl wants nothing more to do with these guys; he just wants to be a regular old cabbie; but not these two guys, they want to carry corpses on Earls cab!  And so, since Earl and Molly are entwined, Boya ends up having to protect the both of them, that’s about as far as the story goes. Basically, it’s a film that’s really all about friendship and self sacrifice, same as The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), this film is about a monster looking for some friendship in this big bad world; more than anything what Boya wants is love. And this is the one element that Blood & Donuts shares with many vampire films, that rampant romanticism, that love obsession that vampires are known for.

The character of Boya, played by actor Gordon Currie is one of the most interesting elements in the film. He is the reluctant vampire, he doesn’t want to be one, yet he is, so he relies on feeding on rats and pigeons to survive. He tries to hide his vampirism, yet vamps out whenever he truly has to in order to protect his friends and loved ones. He is a humanist, he believes everyone is special; everyone deserves a day in the sun, a shot at happiness. Boya’s and endearing sort of character, you’ll get to like him even though he’s a vampire. He muses on things like the sadness he felt when humans first walked on the moon, when they corrupted it by walking on it. When he wakes up from his slumber, he looks like Jim Morrison just woke up from his grave to roam the modern world;  a hippy out of the 60’s and into the 90’s, so in some ways this films plays a bit like a fish out of water story. Most of the performances are solid, for example we also get a great David Cronenberg playing a gangster called Stephen. Cronenberg can really play a psycho extremely well.  Cronenberg’s character radiates a controlled sort of evil. He says clever lines like: “Am I employing retards? I have nothing against retards myself, I just can’t afford to  employ them” Unfortunately, the only downside in terms of performances is the character of Earl played by Louis Ferreira. He speaks in this bad Christopher Walken impersonation that can get a bit annoying at times, but it’s not so bad you’ll want to stop watching the film. In fact, Earl kind of grows on you with his dim wittedness.

Blood & Donuts is also a film that explores the ins and outs of relationships. Boya falls in love with Molly, his new love interest, but an old girlfriend named Rita has a grudge with Boya and follows him everywhere he goes, searching for revenge. Boya is afraid of relationships because they always end somehow, he knows this because he’s lived far longer than any human and all of his previous lovers have died. Will this knowledge stop Boya from letting love into his life again? Should we be afraid to love because it might some day end? These are some of the ideas the film explores. In conclusion, Blood & Donuts is an offbeat film; it won’t go where you expect it to in terms of vampire lore. Performances are quirky and different, Boya is likable and the film has an eerie, dream like vibe to it. The film was made with very little money, which is probably why the story is so simplistic in nature, but it is saved by decent performances and originality. It has cult following written all over it, honestly don’t understand why this film hasn’t made its way onto dvd yet. 

Rating 3 ½ out of 5 


Betosky82 said...

I saw this last week on Netflix streaming, I liked it a lot. I wasn't a big fan of the cabbie character who seemed to be doing a Christopher Walken impression, but other than that it's really good.

Franco Macabro said...

I had a chance to re-watch it thanks to Netflix streaming as well, Im glad because I had always enjoyed it. Im hoping it gets a dvd blue ray release at some point, it doesnt deserve to dissapear into obscurity.

Catriona Lovett said...

I thought Louis Ferreira's accent was mimicking Walken too, until I heard Christian Slater use that familiar cadence in Mr. Robot. I'm a New Yorker, but not from NYC. Walken didn't get his accent in a vacuum. Could it be a local accent there?

Richard Birchfield said...

I just watched it last night on Amazon Prime Video and just fell in love with the characters. I loved Boya - he comes off as an innocent really, very gentle and introspective and there’s no real guile to the character at all. Very sincere in a non-annoying kind of way. The character of Earl is the guy living a haphazard life with little order or goal. He’s also an innocent just trying to get by and desperately needs someone in his corner to take his part. And that turns out to be Boya. I loved their relationship. There’s a sweetness to it. And Boya comes to truly care for Earl and I loved that. We’re all at some point in our lives Earl and desperately need a Boya to be on our side. Molly is a bit hardened with a tough outer shell but inside wants what any woman (human?) really wants and that’s to be loved deeply by someone. For a brief moment Boya fulfills both Earl’s and Molly’s relationship needs and I thought that was beautifully portrayed. If you do get the chance watch it.


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