February 14, 2008

Blood Car: Driving Costs an Arm and a Leg. And a Head. And a Torso.

Imagine a world in which the price of gas has gone through the roof and only the wealthy can afford to drive. Oh, yeah, that's the way things are already. OK, imagine a world where the price of gas has topped $30 a gallon and only Bill Gates and Warren Buffet can afford to drive. Now we're talking. Welcome to the world of Blood Car, two weeks into the future.

In this world lives a vegan kindergarten teacher named Archie Andrews. Archie was trying to invent an engine that would run on wheatgrass but accidentally discovers that it runs only on blood. Not just animal blood, either, as we learn after a few puppies get shot with a BB gun. No, only human blood will do. Throw into the mix a nasty, hookerish anti-heroine who sells meat at a meat stand (lemonade wasn't paying the bills, I guess) who is willing to do anything to ride in a car again. It's inevitable that the gentle schoolteacher will turn into a psychopath who throws strangers into his trunk in order to fuel his automobile from hell.

Denise, the Meat Girl, prepares to pay for her ride.But wouldn't the government want this blood-fuel technology? Of course! They don't want it just so that everyone can drive to church on Sunday after tossing a little old lady from Pasadena into their trunk, though. They want to build blood tanks and blood fighter planes. In order to get their hands on Archie and his marvelous hemoglobin Hummer, they're perfectly willing to toss one another onto the whirling blades that extract fuel for the Little Engine That Could Kill You. In one of the flick's funniest scenes, a government agent attempts to explain to Archie why it's his patriotic duty to turn over the Blood Car to the government. Imagine Dubya making a speech after downing a six-pack and a half pound of 'shrooms and you'll get some idea of the content of the agent's speech.

Blood Car is a whacked-out first effort video threat that works and works well most of the time. It's got a punk attitude and a sick sense of humor that shine through almost constantly. It's a first effort from director Alex Orr, so it can be forgiven for some of the amateurish acting — which, in this case, also works much of the time. There are a couple of glaring continuity errors; Archie opens an artery and sticks a plastic tube into his arm in one scene only to appear in the very next without a scratch on him. Still, there's enough to this movie otherwise that I was willing to overlook the shortcomings and just enjoy the thing.

There's a lot of blood in this movie. If you didn't expect that a movie called Blood Car was going to involve gallons of blood being liberally sprayed about in at least every other scene, I feel sorry for you. Blood Car. The car runs on blood. Get it yet? Excellent. There's an axe to the sternum in one scene and in another the trunk is left open as victim gets turned into Premium. There's also sex, most of which is comical but (warning to the squeamish here!) we do get one quick shot involving urine. If you're worried about going to hell because you've seen Blood Car, you probably shouldn't watch it. Then again, you've probably stopped reading by now, anyhow. Screw you. Who needs you?

Beneath all the blood and sight gags, Blood Car is also a commentary about America's love of its autos and the ridiculous lengths to which we'll go to be able to drive them. It takes consumer culture that one step further: there is the consumer and there is the consumed. You can be the driver or else you can be fuel for that which is driven. There is no price too great to keep our cars running, whether it's the invasion of some oil-producing nation after trumping up stories about weapons of mass destruction or tossing that third cousin you don't particularly care for into the "gas tank."

Some people will do anything for gasBlood Car winds up generating at least one potentially iconic image toward the end as a government agent holds a gun to the head of a kindergarten-aged girl as the way is paved for a technology transfer. The people who made this flick seem to have something to say about the oil-based economy and they do it with humor but they're not pulling any punches either.

For all of its flaws, Blood Car is worth a look. It's horror-comedy with a hook. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll get a tune-up. Check it out.

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