Movie Review – Blood Soaked

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Movie Review – Blood Soaked
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Horror, Thriller
Red Letter Media, Wild Eye Releasing
June 17th, 2014
Release length: 1:12:00
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Back in 2008, a little original short film named This Side of Nightmare started making it’s rounds through the underground. Years later, the eleven minute film from writer and director Peter Grendle finds new life in a 2014 full-length feature remake titled Blood Soaked. After finding a great deal of success in various festivals including official selection at both Dark Matters Film Festival and Pollygrind Film Festival, it was only a matter of time before someone picked up this Red Letter Cinema (also known as Red Letter Media) release. And who else could better play host to such an offering than the highly impressive Wild Eye Releasing? But is this actually something worth sitting down to watch, or is the little over one hour length simply a test of patience?

Look up at marketing tagline for this film and you’ll more than likely come across a variation of “Lesbians Vs. Nazi Zombies!” While both do appear in this film, the battle it suggests isn’t really what Blood Soaked is all about. It’s the first day of college for Piper (Heather Wilder), ten years after the death of Dr. Skelter (Kevin Wester). Piper quickly makes friends with fellow freshman Ashley (Rachel Corona) who happens to be a known lesbian at the school. After things go wrong at a party and another classmate voices her disgust over Ashley’s sexuality, the two go off into the surrounding desert, only to hit a rabbit as the two bounce back from a major hang over. This is where they meet Sadie (Laina Grenle) and her sister Katie, daughters of the German doctor who take offence to the student’s sexual orientation, kidnapping and torturing Piper with their nazi zombie creations for the remainder of the film.

Truth be told, the zombies here are actually really pointless to the plot and seem tacked on as fan service to those still into this pop-culture trend. If you look at this film as a general example of the depths mankind is willing to sink in their hatred of one group or another, setting it more in the frame of mind for the less tolerant sixties to seventies era of bigotry and homophobia, it plays out perfectly. Even the torturers break the mold by being two teenage females instead of males. Picture the violence of Last House on the Left or even the implied brutality of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and you’ll get the general idea of what this film would have been without incorporating legions of the undead that often are just normal people injected with a serum created by a Nazi scientist. Even though the film would have just been much stronger without them, they are still here in an odd sub-plot, so you just need to sit back and enjoy the experience, or at least try when it comes to the start.

Blood Soaked

The first half of this film is a bit rocky to sit through. There are some scenes involving Piper’s mother and her boyfriend Bobby (Leon Garcia) throughout that show he is cheating on her, but this development doesn’t really pay off until the much tighter second half. On top of that you have plenty of visual aspects to take note of. Most of them are good, but a few questionable enough to make Blood Soaked come off like a film school project in experimentation. The use of color and black and white filters works to compliment the tone of the film at that time. The first is common during the happier moments at school and when the two are building their relationship, while the latter hits when that upbeat world is quickly shattered around Piper. You also get a great deal of rapid fire cuts between scenes that play up a drug induced visual that are as annoying as the random two to three second pauses that seem to hit for no reason.

About the last of the film is done in black and white, and it’s where the most abuse comes through. Sadie and Katie continue to toy with Piper from this point on, making her kill someone she knew in zombie form and keeping her tied up in a room at their base of operations that also has a zombie chained up to the wall. The sister’s goal is to continue their father’s work and create a master race out of the undead that they train like common pets. From stabbings and beating to having Piper destroy all that she loves or make her watch as it happens, she is put into a literal hell on earth that only continues to get worse as the tale unfolds, even after she manages to free herself. The only thing that ends up unbelievable about all of this is how the zombies seem to just baby step from side to side, coming off a bit corny compared to some of their growls. However, when all the characters and zombies are together, more brutality ensues before the perfect conclusion ushers in the realization that you just went on one hell of a trip that has been a lost art form since the end of the seventies.

The acting to Blood Soaked is also a mixed bag. When upbeat and happy the characters just appear to be pushing their roles along. Everyone acting drunk during the party at the start of the film come off unbelievable, and even when Piper and Ashley are sitting in the middle of the desert it seems like they are just forcing small talk. Once the sisters do appear, everything changes for the better. Heather Wilder even gets to show her chops as a scream queen against the truly twisted acting skills behind her antagonists. Everyone involved just gets better and better in front of the camera the longer the movie goes on, leaving you with some truly memorable moments. Well, when you can hear the dialogue that is. The audio samples and score all handle themselves like something from the sixties to seventies as well, though sometimes the lines being delivered are inaudible depending on how low they are spoken and how far from the camera the person is at the time.

Blood Soaked

Blood Soaked may only be an hour and twelve minutes long, but what this film manages to accomplish in that amount of time is simply amazing. What starts as your typical “free love” era film with homophobic roots morphs to a journey that explores the deepest depths of nazi scientific experimentations and human cruelty that stems from disgust and hatred. Rough production tactics and high definition cameras help create an interesting brand of exploitation that crosses The Hills Have Eyes with Night of the Living Dead, snuff, torture porn, rape revenge tension, and copious amounts of crack cocaine to take you on a trip so well executed for a modern film that you won’t be able to shake off what you just witnessed. In fact you will want to go back and experience it again to see what other kind of homages you may have missed the first time around. What more can possibly be said to sell this modern day cult classic? Blood Soaked is simply a must buy, even if the zombies are pointless.

Overall Score: 8.5/10
Physical review copy of this release provided by Wild Eye Releasing.