• Bloodmania (Darkside Releasing) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Darkside Releasing
    Released on: October 22nd, 2019.
    Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis, Melanie Reinboldt, Kevin Littlelight
    Cast: Faith Amantea, Stuart Bentley, Carl Bishop, Caroline Buzanko, Peter Cameron, Donovan Cerminara, Jaslyn Collis
    Year: 2017
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    Bloodmania – Movie Review:

    Bloodmania (not to be confused with Blood Mania) would, sadly, be the last film project that the late, great Herschell Gordon Lewis, the originally ‘Godfather Of Gore,’ would ever be involved with, given that he passed away in 2016. While the film doesn’t measure up to the quality of the classics he gave us like Blood Feast and 2,000 Maniacs (to name only his two best known pictures), it does have its own micro-budget charm and the Blu-ray release from Darkside Releasing serves as a fitting and heartfelt tribute to a filmmaker whose influence has spread far and wide over the years.

    The film is an anthology picture that takes place in Lewisville and is hosted by Lewis himself. He appears in the film in the wraparound segments, telling some bad jokes but giving off that quirky charm that the guy had, the kind that made him so endearing.

    The first of the four stories is titled, appropriately enough, Gory Story and it was directed by Lewis himself. It revolves around Brewster (Roger LeBlanc), whose day starts off bad when he gets dumped by his girlfriend and only gets worse as the hours go by. One thing leads to another and an accident with a power tool sees him cutting off his own hand. When he tries to replace it with a hook, well, the hook turns out to be possessed and it basically takes him on a bit of a rampage and it all goes south for him from there.

    Attack Of Conscience, directed by Melanie Reinboldt, is the second story. Here, a pregnant woman named Julie (Sonia Deleo) irritates her fiancé Beau (Donovan Cerminara), who may or may not be already married. He tries to kill her more than once, and he’s will to try it again just to get her out of his hair. At least that might be what happens – is it all a weird dream on Julie’s part?

    Story number three, again directed by Lewis, is entitled The Night Hag. In this tale, a woman named Sam (Caroline Buzanko) becomes unsettled by the house that she and her family have moved into. It turns out that Sam’s suspicions aren’t so crazy – there’s something very, very wrong with the place.

    Last but not least is GOREgeous, directed by Kevin Littlelight. This one tells the story of a guy named Gordo (Stuart Bentley) who manages a quartet of female rockers. He’s not very good at it, but that doesn’t stop – until he’s fired. Gordo isn’t exactly normal, however, because any time he cuts himself he gets worked into a blood frenzy and cannot fight the urge to kill.

    It would be an impossible feat to truly recreate the ‘charm’ of Lewis’ early low budget films, particularly when shooting digitally as is done here, but Bloodmania does manage to capture the spirit. It’s done with comedic intent and not meant to be taken too seriously at all, and it does manage to go over the top a few times with some amusing ‘gore gags’ and some decent murder set pieces. The film wears its low budget on its sleeve, production values are passable rather than impressive, but you’ve got to give the filmmakers credit for using a lot of blood in the film!

    The two Lewis segments are the best, and the film peaks early with opener Gory Story (it’s too stupid not to enjoy), but Buzanko and Littlelight (GOREgeous really takes things over the top even more so than the other entries) do solid work here as well. The Night Hag strives for atmosphere over gore gags, and at times it gets there, making the comedic finale seems a little out of place. Each of the four films has an amusing twist at the end and is paced rather well. None of the material here overstays its welcome. The effects are handled pretty nicely, all done practically, thankfully without any noticeable CGI thrown into the mix.

    Bloodmania – Blu-ray Review:

    Darkside Releasing brings Bloodmania to Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.78.1 widescreen on a 25GB disc. This was shot on digital video and clearly done with a modest budget but it looks fine for what it is. Does this look like the latest Star Wars movie? Nope, and you’d be a dumb ass to expect it to, but the picture shows decent detail and the colors are pretty solid. Black levels are fine and obviously there are no problems with grain, print damage or debris of any kind to discuss.

    Audio chores are handled by an English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track, no lossy option here, but it sounds fine. Dialogue is generally always easy to follow and properly balanced and there are no problems with any hiss or any distortion. There are no alternate language or subtitle options on this release.

    Extra features on the disc start off with an audio commentary by writer/prodcuer James Saito and actors Stuart Bentley and Sarah-Joy Goode. They start off by talking about the E.C. Comics inspired opening, how the project came to be, the comedic opening to the picture and what went into making that sequence, the use of practical gore effects in the film and how and why that was done, some of the locations that were used and more Goode talks about getting her parts in the film and how she landed the roles, ad-libbing on set, things that work and things that don’t work in the film, and of course working with the three different directors on the shoot, with a good bit of emphasis given to HGL at times. There’s also talk here about the joys of working with corn syrup in a wasp-heavy area, how and why some scenes were harder to shoot than others and quite a bit more. Saito and Goode have a lot more to say here than Bentley but it’s a good track with a lot of information in it.

    In the thirteen-minute Cast And Crew Interviews section, actress Sarah Troyer talks about how much she enjoyed working on the film and appreciated the cast and crew, especially Lewis (who she describes as an 'old fashioned gentleman'). Writer Justin Sane talks about growing up watching weird horror and comedy films on cable, getting to know who Lewis was when was in his twenties when working in a video store in San Francisco, and how he came to work on this picture. Sarah-Joy Goode shows up here too, talking about how she got the part, using prosthetics during the shoot, her characters, the costumes she had to wear and how much fun she had during the productuion. Actress Caroline Buzanko speaks about the character that she played in the movie and more.

    The Behind-The-Scenes Vignette is a two-and-a-half-minute selection of fly-on-the-wall style footage documenting what it was like on set, showing off some of the effects work being put together, some of which is quite funny to see. And we do get to see Lewis at work here as well as the other two directors.

    The first disc also includes a fun two-minute short film entitled A Trip To The Oral Surgeon wherein a beautiful dark haired woman gets sedated and in the dentist chair only to have her fingers clipped off. This is done as a silent film and is presented complete with intertitles.

    There’s also a second disc included with some interesting extra features included on it. First up is a thirty-four-minute with producer Saito who talks about how the movie came to be, how he got to know H.G. Lewis while working for a convention and how this led to them collaborating on this production together. He also speaks about the preparation that was required to get the movie made, influences that worked their way into the movie, where some of the ideas that inspired the picture originated from, his thoughts on how the different stories in the anthology turned out and how Lewis loved to play the piano! This is a very heart-felt interview and Saito clearly relished getting to collaborate with one of his heroes on this project.

    Up next is a great seven-minute document of Lewis and Saito hanging out on a porch talking about making the film, how the gore in the film serves the storyline, how much Lewis appreciates the fact that the actors 'don't resent the roles given them,' how splatter films have become mainstream since his early gore pictures and how Lewis hoped that this picture would appeal to those who aren't even necessarily interested specifically in gore given that what he did in the sixties is now legally shown on television on a weekly basis.

    Last but not least is a fifty-six-minute segment made up of fly-on-the-wall style footage of Lewis directing Bloodmania. Not all of this looks great, it was culled together from different sources, but it's a great opportunity to see the late director doing his thing. Here we see him talking to his cast about their characters, explaining how specific scenes need to play out, literally directing his cast, coordinating the best way a steamroller should go over a corpse to ensure his actor remains safe and more.

    This release also comes packaged with a full color insert booklet containing some amusing (and gory!) promo photos tying into the movie and a slipcover.

    Bloodmania – The Final Word:

    Bloodmania is goofy, gory, entertaining splatstick, enjoyable nonsense done with a wink and a nod. The Blu-ray package, however, does a nice job of documenting the making of the film and, with the inclusion of the second disc, also serves as a very nice tribute to the late, lamented Lewis making this a package that fans of the man should appreciate for that reason.

    Click on the images below for full sized Bloodmania Blu-ray screen caps!