• the disc I received was a bare-bones screener
Two investigative journalists go backstage at a high-class porno shoot, only to come face-to-mask with a lunatic surgeon.
Directed by Edo Tagliavini, starring Francesco Faiella, Virgilio Olivari, and Marco Benevento.
Zombies ruin everything, right? I don’t mean that in a joking manner. I mean every time one shows up in a horror movie I get bummed out. They’re so boring and overused. Even if they don’t actually call them “zombies,” any character who was just dead and is now running around all feral biting people is sure to shatter my enjoyment of a film. That’s exactly what happened in Bloodline, which up until the undead show up is a terrific Italian horror film with loads of atmosphere and genuine creepiness. They damn zombies don’t even have to be in the movie, but they are. I enjoyed the shit outta the first two-thirds of the film though.
The Italians have a deep history of gory horror films with atmosphere to spare. One of the contemporary filmmakers carrying on the tradition is Edo Tagliavini. His film Bloodline is an impressive, moody ghost story with some very dark moments of gore. But only up to a point. About three quarters of the way in, Tagliavini plays the zombie card, which is not only unnecessary, but also shatters all foreboding sense of dread earned up to that point. Stupid zombies ruin everything.
Bloodline begins with an interesting prologue. Twin girls Sandra and Giulia (pronounced “Julia”) are playing hide and seek in the woods while their parents bang. Also playing a more deadly game of hide and seek is “The Surgeon,” a huge guy in a grey and black biohazard suit who’s in hot pursuit of a young couple. During their game Giulia steps into a bear trap and while she’s reeling in pain on the ground, the Surgeon rolls up and kills her. Sandra manages to escape and is haunted by the incident into her adult life.
Grown up Sandra (Francesca Faiella – Into the Gloom) is an investigative journalist for an internet news site. Her and her partner Marco take on an assignment reporting backstage at a porno shoot. But not without some trepidation. See, the porno is filming at a villa surrounded by the woods where Sandra’s sister was killed. If facing your worst nightmare head-on wasn’t bad enough, Sandra is surrounded by boners. Big, flamboyant European boners.
The porno director is renowned auteur Klaus Kinki (ha!). His bread and butter is those really high-class pornos that cost $40 on DVD and clean house at the AVN awards. He’s consumed by his “art” – even when shit starts hitting the fan, he can only think about how to capture it on film. At one point he’s ranting about the importance of continuity. Usually in adult films they don’t care about accurate cuts and transitions, but Klaus Kinki is a true artist. The rest of the crew is made up of unremarkable deviants and one impressive hunk who looks kinda like Harold Diamond (the stick-fighting opponent in Rambo III).
After day one of shooting, everyone is sitting around the dinner table, enjoying food, wine, and deep discussions about sex and guilt – the two main themes of the film. Eventually the talk shifts to the rumors about the old villa their shooting at. Word is the place used to belong to a surgeon whose wife had an incurable illness. The surgeon refused to give up on her and he used his professional know-how to harvest organs for her. Now he still stalks the grounds, taking lives and organs while rigged out in his crazy biohazard gear we saw in the prologue.
All of the aspects of the Surgeon are creepy as hell – except for one bit where he takes off the biohazard mask after killing someone. He looks like a normal guy, but he breathes really heavy. I thought it was just the sound of the mask – kinda like how Darth Vader breathes – but when he took the thing off he was still breathing like that. Sorta ruined the illusion, but he’s still a fucking creep. Oh, when he has his mask on, he does that annoying head tilt thing EVERY killer with a mask on is required by law to do. You know the one.
Shortly after arriving at the villa, Sandra starts seeing the ghost of her little sister. At first the film tries to be all ambiguous about who the ghost is, but it’s pretty obvious. The ghost of Giulia looks like your typical contemporary horror movie apparition. Even though she died wearing winter clothes, her ghost has a long nightgown on. Her dark hair is combed straight down, her eyes are dark, and she comes in like bad television reception. Old-timey nightgowns must be the new ghost-bedsheet gag. She looks nothing like the little girl who died in the prologue, but Sandra is still shook by the presence of her sister’s ghost, regardless of her granny pajamas.
Thus far, Bloodline has incredible atmosphere, a nasty, organ-harvesting Surgeon creeping around, a manic porno director, a hedge-maze, and the ghost of a young girl driving our protagonist mad. So far, so good. Then zombies show up from left field and the movie loses much of its brains. For some reason, the people killed by the Surgeon rabidly rise from the dead and go after Sandra and the porno crew. Bloodline had so much going for it up to this point, then it just lazily leans on the zombie motif. I’m so bored with the undead.
There are two really fun things the film does with the zombies though. Klaus Kinki gets so aroused by their arrival that he grabs a camera and starts filming. Then that hunky porn actor kicks the shit out of one zombie. It’s pretty ridiculous and hilarious at the same time – watching this stereotypical European porn actor punching a zombie’s face in.
Besides the porno pugilist, everyone else in the cast is top-notch. Francesca Faiella and Marco Benevento are particularly fantastic. There’s lots of sexual tension between them and they always seem to be teetering on the edge of professionalism and tearing each other’s clothes off. The great cast helps salvage the last half of the film (after the zombies show up), but the pre-zombie moments of the film are really elevated beyond B-movie status through the cast’s palatability.
If they had just left the zombie sub-plot outta Bloodline and stuck with the Surgeon and Sandra’s past haunting her we’d have a damn great film on our hands – rather than just a great one. I would definitely recommend this one to horror fans, particularly fans of Italian horror who like some dark, brooding atmosphere with their gore. And anyone who likes Euro hunks punching zombies in the face.
The screener I received was a bare-bones disc and did not contain any special features.
Rating: Out of a Possible 5 Stars
Out of a Possible 5 Stars