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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Blood Fest (2018)



This was a blind buy for me. I saw the trailer for the movie, and it seemed like something that I wanted to check out and support with my $12.99 purchase. I’ve been disappointed by most of the new stuff that I’ve been watching, but you have to keep digging to find that hidden gem. Is Blood Fest one of those buried treasures? Time to find out.

The movie starts off with a mother and her young son watching scary movies. She goes to the kitchen and is attacked by a masked man. His father shows up just in time to save the boy, but not before he sees his mother dead on the floor. He also sees his father shoot and kill the intruder. Years later the boy, Dax, and his friends want to go to Blood Fest. This is the biggest horror movie festival going on and as a fan of those flicks Dax wants to go. His Dad is on a crusade against scary movies forbids him from attending. Guess what happens?

Yeah so Dax, his friends Krill and Sam sneak off to Blood Fest. After having a disappointing meeting with his hero from the Arbor Day, I guess a slasher movie series, they head to the opening ceremonies. Here the producer of the festival announces that they are about to make horror scary again. The entire grounds have been locked off and the horrors within real. The people attending need to follow the rules or they will die! The bodies start to drop immediately as the knife wielding maniac and some pig masked chainsaw dudes begin cutting into the audience. Dax, his friends, and some others lock themselves into a storage room. Quickly they figure out that they have to run the gauntlet of various movie themed attractions to get to the back gate and escape. Good times ensue.

The cast is decent
Normally when a movie tries to pay homage or reference other well-known genre flicks it is a miserable failure. But somehow Blood Fest pulls it off and not just one homage but many. The various set pieces that the characters have to survive include a cemetery full of zombies, a high school with a killer stalking them, a Saw style trap complete with a creepy ass doll in a wheelchair, vampires, rage monsters (think 28 Days later), and my personal favorite, creepy ass clowns. All of these are done very well and explained in a logical way that as a viewer I was able to buy into. The zombies are controlled with electrodes, the human killers are crazies that he found and programmed by making them watch a certain movie again and again until they became that killer. The vampires are ladies brought over from Eastern Europe and infected with a disease that makes them crave blood. They aren’t actually vampires just what he could manufacture. The clowns… he got them off Craigslist. God, I loved that line. I liked the fact that the writer/director tried to keep things as realistic as possible while injecting some humor. It made for an entertaining flick.

It isn’t just the setups that refer to other movies or genre staples. Filmmakers like James Wan and Danny Boyle as well as movies like Black Christmas are referenced in the dialogue. As someone who has been to many conventions and hangs out with other horror nerds this was a nice touch. The conversations that these characters were having sounded very familiar and that only made me enjoy the movie more. The best part is when Dax prays to George Romero when he is trying to disable the device controlling the zombies. Damn it man that is how you acknowledge the master! The writing is good enough that none of this feels forced as it seems natural that these characters would have these sorts of references in their vocabulary.

I do love the clowns
The gore is a mix of CGI and practical effects. Some of the practical work is a bit rough, but it was nice to see a low budget movie make the effort. Especially one that is going out of its way to remind the audience of the flicks that inspired it. Speaking of that there is a bit where the zombies break in and attack the clowns. Watch closely as one of the clowns cackles when being ripped apart because that is reminiscent of a kill in Day of the Dead. Not obvious but I noticed. Now that is how you reference a classic! The CGI work never has that terribly cringeworthy moment and is used to enhance things and not carry the effect. The filmmakers also make an effort to not linger on these effects giving the audience time to pick them apart. The design of the zombies, vampires, creepy nun, hillbilly killers, and clowns are all nicely done. We don’t get to see some of them on screen for long, but they do make an impression. This takes time and effort and I applaud the filmmakers and makeup crew for their hard work.

Lots of kills, good dialogue, neat killers, and a clever plot all add up to what I think is a good movie. Imagine my surprise when I saw the bad ratings and people complaining about it. I guess it wasn’t violent or gory enough for some people. This isn’t that kind of movie and if you went in expecting that then of course you are going to be disappointed. I consider this more along the lines of a Return of the Living Dead 2 or Freaks of Nature. A good movie with some comedy elements and some genuine horror mixed in. Hell, I haven’t even mentioned the big twist at the end, which I rather enjoyed. This is a movie that is totally worth your time. I recommend it and will happily argue with anyone that disagrees with me. Give this one your time and money. Support independent horror.


© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

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