• Bliss (Umbrella Entertainment) DVD Review

    Released by: Umbrella Entertainment
    Released on: December 4th, 2019.
    Director: Joe Begos
    Cast: Dora Madison, Jeremy Gardner, Rhys Wakefield, Tru Collins
    Year: 2019
    Purchase From Amazon

    Bliss – Movie Review:

    Dezzy (Dora Madison) is an artist working out of downtown Los Angeles. When the film begins, she’s got a bit of a predicament – she needs to finish a painting for an upcoming exhibit, and quickly, but she’s creatively bankrupt. Not concerned with things like paying her bills and what not, she instead decides to get over her painter’s block by indulging in all manner of substances and fleshy encounters. She drinks, take a hallucinogenic drug from which the movie takes its name and she bangs the ever-living hell out of her friend Courtney (Tru Collins) and her boyfriend Ronnie (Rhys Wakefield) in a three-way scene much more graphic than you will expect it to be!

    This causes its own set of problems with her boyfriend, Clive (Jeremy Gardner). Eventually, stoned out of her gourd and at a small club watching a metal band, the movie starts to morph into the horror movie you’ve been promised as Dezzy begins to crave blood. And she gives into it. The next morning, having blacked out from all of the rampant substance abuse she’s subjected her body to, she wakes up covered in blood that is not her own and with no memory of what happened to cause this. She’s also managed to get some work on that painting finished, which she takes as a sign that she should keep going with all of this, no matter how debased she has to become in order to complete her work.

    Director Joe Bego’s films starts off with this warning:

    “Warning - This film contains flashing images that may cause discomfort or trigger seizers for people with photosensitive epilepsy. Viewer discretion is advised.”

    It’s a valid cautioning to be sure, they really aren’t kidding about this. There are large stretches of the film that make use of very strong strobe light effects. It’s all in keeping with the tone of the film and it’s done well to be sure, but those who may be sensitive to such issues definitely should take heed!

    That said, this is a ridiculously stylish film, often bathed in blazing colors and shot by cinematographer Mike Testin, Bliss gives viewers the same sort of adrenalin shot as a movie like Crank but is filtered through the sensibilities of a director liker Gasper Noe. It pulls no punches, bombarding its audience with over the top set pieces and a bombastic soundtrack that is every but as powerful as the images it captures (the film uses music from The Nymphs, Electric Wizard, Doomriders, Deth Crux, Isis and more – so it’s genuinely ‘heavy’ in that regard!). The score from Zombi’s Steve Moore is also excellent, the perfect cherry on top of the film’s intended look.

    As to the performances, all eyes are on Dora Madison. This is her show and she makes the most of it. Dezzy isn’t the most likable character you’re going to see in a movie. She’s unfaithful to her boyfriend, she’s ridiculously vulgar and while she’s very attractive looking, her personality is abrasive. But this character and Madison’s performance work quite well in the context of the story that Bego and company are telling. Supporting work from Jeremy Gardner, Rhys Wakefield and the lovely Tru Collins is all quite strong as well, but they just aren’t given as much to do as Madison is, she’s in pretty much every frame of the film.

    The film does seem to owe a debt to Johnny Craig’s ‘Easel Kill Ya,’ a story first published in E.C. Comics' Vault Of Horror #31 from June of 1953 (and then adapted into the episode of the same name on HBO's Tales From The Crypt TV series starring Tim Roth as a murderous painter!), but we can let that slide when the movie is as entertaining as this one is.

    Bliss – DVD Review:

    Bliss comes to DVD from Umbrella Entertainment framed at 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen. It looks quite good, the sometimes garish color scheme reproduced well and the black levels nice and deep. Some compression is noticeable here and there and detail doesn’t rise to what a Blu-ray release could have provided (obviously) but for a standard definition offering this transfer looks just fine.

    The sole audio option is an English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track. Audio quality here is quite good, with the effects and often times the score spread out rather effectively into the rear channels and filling up the room quite nicely. Dialogue is clean and clear and the levels are properly balanced. There are no alternate language or subtitle options provided.

    Extras? Not a one to be found, not even menu screens.

    Bliss – The Final Word:

    Bliss is well done. It’s something different, an interesting and unusual genre picture that works thanks to some smart directorial choices, wild production values and strong performances. Umbrella’s DVD release looks and sounds decent by the standards of the format, though some extras would have been nice. Still, this is definitely worth seeing.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. VinceP's Avatar
      VinceP -
      I want to like Begos' films. Regardless of budget, there's fun stuff going on, but I wish he would stop cribbing from other filmmakers already. There's tribute and then there's blatant re-purposing. Almost Human did Carpenter, The Mind's Eye did Cronenberg, and this does Gaspar Noe and Abel Ferrara. The trailers for his next film, VFW, look like Robert Rodriguez and Neil Marshall (who themselves ripped off others) wrapped in a Precinct 13 shell. I know people argue this about other directors like Tarantino, but I really feel like Begos needs to find his own groove.