Drawing Blood (1999)
By: Trist Jones August 10, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Stomp Visual (Australia). All Regions, NTSC. 4:3. English DD 2.0. 89 minutes
The Movie
Director: Sergio Lapel
Starring: Kirk Wilson, Larry Palatta, Dawn Spinella, Leo Otero, Erin Smith, Amie Childers
Screenplay: Noel Anderson
Tagline: Blood is thicker than water-color
Country: USA
AKA: Sergio Lapel's Drawing Blood
Drawing Blood is an unusual mix. It starts off kinda artsy-fartsy, then slips into Troma's standard "offensive joke" tactics, then degrades itself to something on the level of Dante Tomaselli's Horror (take that how you want… I say that's about as bad as it comes), then becomes good again for a bit, then shit, and so the cycle continues. It's so all over the place you don't quite know what to make of it at first…

But, having said that, the film isn't exactly everyone's cup of tea. To me, Drawing Blood came off as a low-budget pile that at least knew it was a low-budget pile and didn't care. There's a carefree attitude to it, where the film makers have just gone ahead and done what they wanted, which is cool, but also contributes to the feeling of the film being a real patchwork. There's a lot of chaff in there that could have been done away with, and had they done so, Drawing Blood probably would have come out as a much more concise and consistent film.

The story, while centred around an interesting premise, suffers terribly from a horrendous script. Drawing Blood deals with a vampire named Diana, who kills prostitutes, then poses the cadavers for her artwork: paintings done in the victim's blood. However, wrapped around her little finger is Edmond, a young, struggling artist who brings the women to Diana, but is also disgusted by what he does and wants out, and that means killing Diana. As I said, there's a lot more going on in this film, but it's all peripheral garbage that pads the film out unnecessarily. Edmond's best friend wants to be a vampire, Edmond falls in love with a slightly frightening whore, Edmond's meandering dad gets turned into a vampire… some of it is kinda funny, a lot of it is kinda bad… actually really kinda bad…

I have to admit - in spite of carrying the Troma label - when I saw the cover and title selling itself as Sergio Lapel's Drawing Blood, I had expected some sort of obscure Italian vampire flick in the same vein as Argento, and while watching the first scene, this was justified thinking. However, after the first scene, that assumption went straight out the window. It's an extremely low-budget piece, which I'm pretty sure began life as something serious, but when push came to shove and everything was being filmed they realised how bad things looked (or how funny things looked) and ran with that instead. Sometimes it's hard to believe the actors are keeping a straight face while reciting some of the worst dialogue you can imagine.

The acting, for the most part, is atrocious. It could be that they're really not that bad and it's all the script, but I sincerely doubt it. Kirk Wilson, who plays Edmond is the only one who seems to be genuinely trying to make something of his role, the rest are just terrible. Larry Palatta, who plays Edmond's father is so bad it's hilarious. If there were awards for confused, meandering, old men, Palatta would win, hands down – but his performance is one of those that no Troma film is complete without.

Unlike films such as Chopper Chicks from Zombie Town, Drawing Blood does contain substantial amounts of pretty much everything on the Troma list of prerequisites. Right off the bat, you get full frontal female nudity, you also get the gore, the needless violence, plenty of dirty jokes and innuendo, tits, terrible special effects, terrible acting (that is actually funny), the works. But the problem is, there's just too much film, and it gets really boring for large, unnecessary stretches, and the amount of time it takes to reach it's completely unsatisfying conclusion is ridiculous.

The score/soundscape is interesting. Comprising largely of repetitious sounds or pulses over actual music, it's one of those bizarre 'experimental' tracks that unfortunately works only half the time. All the sound effects are bizarrely placed too. Every time a light comes you hear a match being struck, and baby crying appears in the oddest of moments. It feels as though the sound recorded wasn't good enough to use so they had to go back and reloop it all in post (which I'm pretty sure is the case, given the voice dubbing).

The camera work is almost as experimental as the soundtrack. Although the shots aren't all that good, and some of the more inspired shots feel forced and out of place, you've got to give it to the guys for trying at least. Some of the shots have been played with in post, being sped up or slowed down, and the result is kind of jarring. It's like watching a film go from being shot on film to suddenly being shot on VHS.

Still, in spite of being a disappointing film, the extras make it worthwhile (for Troma enthusiasts at least…)
Troma give us another fullscreen release that clearly hasn't been cleaned up in any way shape or form. There's film grain and damage throughout the feature. It's watchable, sure, but it's a pretty average transfer.
Again, Troma dishes out the standard Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0. Not great, but it could just be me knowing that the whole audio track was done in post (which makes me think that the actual audio captured on set must've been pretty poor). The quality of the audio commentaries is great though, both in terms of actual sound quality and content, but more on that in the…
Extra Features
The extras are the most redeeming part of the whole DVD. They're nothing fantastic, but they're well worth checking out, especially for all you indie film makers. The commentary from Sergio Lapel (the director) and Kirk Wilson is hilarious, and actually makes you appreciate the film a little more. You know it's shit, they know it's shit, but the best part is, they're all too happy to point out what's wrong and openly laugh at it. Sergio Lapel is the anti-Dan Hoskins: he's self degrading, but completely hilarious. As is Kirk Wilson, who is faster than anyone to point out how terrible an actor he is. Both guys are really worth listening to, giving you a commentary similar to Raimi and Campbell on the Evil Dead DVD's.

You also get bloopers which are a bit hit and miss, as are the few deleted/extended scenes.

Again, a nice little addition, though mainly targeting film makers, is a rundown of Lapel's drawing boards with a commentary from the man himself. Oh, and the joking prod at the film maker and the film's title present in the menu screen manages to grab a laugh.
The Verdict
The extras certainly make you view the film in a different light, but it doesn't really save the film from being a bit of a mess. It jumps from good to bad so often that it becomes detrimental to the film, and the length means late night watching may put you to sleep. Really, this is only one for hardcore Vampire or Troma enthusiasts. The humour is likely to be lost on most viewers outside of the Troma circles, and for some reason Vampire enthusiasts seem to be able to sit through some horribly boring films, so this would probably be a walk in the park for them. One star for the film, and one for the commentary.
Movie Score
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