• Blood Soaked

    Directed by: Peter Grendle
    Released by: Wild Eye Releasing
    Released on: June 17, 2014
    Cast: Lauren Myers, Hayley Derryberry, Kevin Wester
    Year: 2014
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    The Movie

    Blood Soaked is a down and dirty ode to the sleazier zombie and Nazisploitation films of the seventies and eighties from writer-director Peter Grendle. It begins in a secret Nazi bunker in the New Mexico desert, where a man is dying while his daughters watch on helplessly. The movie then cuts to 10 years later as a woman is shown running barefoot through the desert while being shot at and chased by the two sisters, now grown up into Manson Family style killers with crosses painted on their foreheads. The sisters hunt and kill the woman, mutilate her corpse with a knife, and steal her car. The film then cuts to the credits, which lists the cast in a blood-splattered font while Nazi propoganda film clips play in the background and we see a series of newspaper articles describing the fleeing of Nazi war criminals and SS experiments in zombie creation. Right from the outset, Blood Soaked's tone is one of nasty unrelenting grime and sleaze, and the brutal murder in the opening and the Nazisploitation credit sequence quickly establishes what this movie is all about: nasty, old-school horror with a Nazi theme and a zombie twist.

    Once the opening credits are finished, the film switches to full color and introduces us to Piper (Heather Wilder), a college freshman moving into her new campus dorm room. After meeting some other girls from her dorm, Piper makes an instant connection with Ashley (Rachel Corona), a Sapphic sophomore who clearly has the hots for her. They go to a freshman keg party and Piper gets white girl drunk before getting into an argument with a homophobic drunk girl. Ashley defends Piper from the drunk girl and knocks her wasted ass in the dirt. Piper becomes smitten with Ashley, and the two spend the night together drinking in a field. Piper exclaims that she's ready to “upgrade from sidekick to muff diver,” but this happens off camera (if at all). The next day, the girls take a drive down a desert road, but their romantic getaway quickly takes a turn for the worst when the sisters from earlier start chasing them down the highway. Piper and Ashley pull over and try to run away, but Ashley is shot in the head. The sisters, Sadie (Laine Grendle) and Katie (Hayley Derryberry), knock Piper unconscious and take her to their underground bunker. The film then switches permanently to black and white, and Piper wakes up in a locked room, right across from a zombie chomping at the bit for her tender flesh. She looks through a crack in the door to see where she is, only to have a knife shoved into her unsuspecting eye. Blinded in one eye, soaked in blood, and freaked the fuck out, Piper somehow has to survive the sadistic Neo Nazi sisters and their bunker full of zombies.

    Blood Soaked is the grimy, go for broke exploitation movie that a lot of modern “Grindhouse” films try to be, but aren't due to their insistence on adding humor to scenarios that don't call for it. Blood Soaked is not ironic, it's not funny (except in a very dark way), and that's entirely to its credit. Writer-director Peter Grendle clearly set out to make a nasty, mean-spirited movie that is reminiscent of old-school exploitation flicks, but without the nostalgia that makes most horror throwbacks feel like they're soft balls when they should be hitting much harder. The villains here are not cheeky, larger than life cartoons and the Nazi elements aren't played here for kitsch. Sadie and Katie are gay-bashing Neo Nazis that talk and act like a redneck variant of the Manson Family girls. The zombies aren't here for humor or schlock value either. They're victims of the twins, and the bunker-bound zombies are reminiscent of the living dead in George Romero's Day of the Dead but with a Re-Animator twist. The zombies look great in black and white, and the extras who play them look menacing and bloody as hell.

    Credit has to go to Heather Wilder for her fearless performance as Piper. When she's first introduced, Piper's an awkward first year student fumbling her way into her first girl-crush, but by the end of the movie she's completely transformed into screaming, one-eyed animal running on pure adrenaline. Her performance is really similar to the late Marilyn Burn's turn as Sally Hardesty in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Both women begin as bright-eyed innocents who are suddenly thrown into a world of unrelenting sadism and terror and are forced to fight, flee or die. Laine Grendle and Haley Derryberry also do a great job as the sadistic sisters. Their roles could have been easily miscast but these girls are both really good at being mean Nazi bitches.

    Blood Soaked never winks at the camera; it stabs the camera in the eye with its harsh monochromatic color scheme and black and white bloodletting. It might turn some viewers off, but the black and white photography really adds to the movie's grimy aesthetic and brings out the best of the film's make-up effects. None of the Nazi or zombie elements are played for laughs or irony, and Blood Soaked is downright relentless in the Hell it puts its protagonist through.


    Blood Soaked appears on DVD courtesy of Wild Eye Releasing in 16:9 aspect ration with an AVC MPEG-2 encode. The movie has a grainy, Xerox-scanned look so for most of its black and white running time, and black levels are solid throughout. The movie's harsh visual aesthetic that fits both its tone and hides its low-budget as good as it can. There are some compression artifacts and the digital image looks somewhat distorted on close inspection but it's unlikely to affect your viewing. The worst-looking scenes in the film are the ones shot in color. These scenes look a little too bright and the color contrast is a bit off, but this is a pretty brief section in the movie. Overall, Blood Soaked looks about as good as it probably ever will unless it gets a Blu-ray release or becomes available for HD streaming at some point, and even then I doubt there'd be much improvement.

    The audio on the DVD is disappointing, because it's hear where the lack of quality actually started to negatively impact my enjoyment of the movie. The only audio option is a 2-channel LPCM stereo track, and the dialogue is practically inaudible for much of the movie. I tried playing around with the audio settings on my surround system, eventually cranking up the volume to uncomfortable levels, and still I could barely hear what was being said, and had to turn it down anytime there was a sound effect cue or background music. The quality of the audio changes from scene to scene, and never settles on a comfortable volume. Even while wearing noise-canceling headphones, the dialogue is unusually quiet.

    Special Features on this DVD include an audience track from the Pollygrind Film Festival, two commentary tracks, the original short film that inspired Blood Soaked, and “Two Drunk Girls” introduction to the film. The audience track from the Pollygrind Festival might be a nice extra if you were in attendance at the festival screening of the movie, but it doesn't really offer much for anyone else. Crowd members laugh and shout at various scenes, but the dialogue in the film is even harder to hear than normal, and there are long stretches where the crowd don't make any noise at all. The Filmmaker Commentary track features writer-director Peter Grendle and Tyler King, who shot and edited the movie. Despite the fact that the two do the commentary over beers, it still manages to be pretty dry and technical. It's a good track for aspiring low-budget filmmakers and hardcore fans but most viewers will probably skip it. Laina Grendle and Heather Wilder appear on the Cast Commentary, and while they don't have much to say on the commentary they do have a good rapport with each other and its a more fun track than the Filmmaker Commentary. The ten-minute short “This Side of Nightmare” was the inspiration behind Blood Soaked, and it's easy to see how this short became expanded into a full-length feature; It has the same color-to-black and white aesthetic and shares some plot details in common with Blood Soaked. The “Two Drunk Girls” Introduction is actually an intro to the film by cast members Heather Wilder and Laina Grendle, and neither of them seem to be drunk. Also included here is an outtake from the introduction, an original trailer to Blood Soaked, and previews for other upcoming Wild Eye releases.

    The Final Word

    If you're craving some low-budget nastiness and don't mind Nazisploitation or the movie's Xeroxed black and white aesthetic, Blood Soaked will slake your thirst for the hard stuff. Just make sure the volume on your TV or sound system is turned all the way up, or be prepared to miss out on most of the dialogue before the screaming starts.