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PUFF 2016: “BAD BLOOD: THE MOVIE” (Film Review)

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No, not the ever-empowering Taylor Swift song: BAD BLOOD: THE MOVIE is a horror comedy by writer/director Tim Reis about a 17-year-old girl cursed with sudden and mysterious case of amphibious lycanthropy. In other words, she becomes a ‘werefrog.’ The premise of the film is utterly ridiculous in a good way. A werefrog movie with sick kills and bizarre humor a la AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON? Where do we sign up!?? It’s full of slime and is certainly enjoyable and a fun time given the right crowd. However, BAD BLOOD: THE MOVIE suffers from tonal issues which leave it feeling stilted towards the end. 

Mary Malloy stars as Victoria, a young girl with an overbearing dick of a stepfather and codependent mother. Both of them think she is on drugs. One night, Victoria steals her stepdad’s car and decides to head to a party with a superficial friend. The girls stop to get gas when they are suddenly attacked by some amphibious beast. When she awakens, Victoria is being held captive underneath the gas station in the attendant’s (Vikas Adam) hidden laboratory. Her parents then hire a private detective (Troy Halverson) with a penchant for homicidal fantasies to find her after Victoria goes missing for a month.  

The film’s campy fun comedic moments often clash with its more serious horror elements. Instead of etching out a nice happy medium, the tone feels split between these two extremes. For instance, while the P.I. character is reminiscent of Special Agent Milton Dammers from THE FRIGHTENERS, it plays more eccentric than zany. The P.I.’s fantasies are extremely violent, but they should also be remarkably outlandish and kooky. Likewise, Victoria’s stepdad Wade (played by Brian Troxell) is a pompous, FOX News-watching, angry white guy. Troxell’s performance is so biting and unsympathetic, one cannot help but laugh at his hilariously abrupt delivery. But it is unclear if his character’s tonal shifts are intentional or not. He goes from dumb, unsympathetic curmudgeon to cruel and abusive within mere moments. It is as if the movie could not decide which direction it wanted to go.

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The creature effects in BAD BLOOD: THE MOVIE are a great example of how low budget filmmaking can unleash true creativity. The monster looks like a cross between Gill-man and the alien from ENEMY MINE. Yet while the werefrog monster goes on a humorous killing spree complete with anatomically correct breasts, the humor is offset by how devastated Victoria is once she realizes the damage she has done. With dark comedy, often humor is derived by playing with or subverting audience expectations.

While Malloy gives a great performance, her character feels rather flat and unsympathetic. Same goes for Vikas’ not-so-mad scientist. One wonders if the film was solely a comedy, if Victoria would have even minded transforming into a 9-foot tall frog monster. Such a premise is rife with humorous possibilities. Any dumb or superficial reason could have worked, really. Instead, her transformation is played semi-seriously despite the overall absurdity of the premise.

Several other parts in BAD BLOOD: THE MOVIE do not pay off. There is a lot of excessive pseudo-sciencey talk, a giant bull frog, and an escaped felon subplot that provided misdirection. The latter could have been more interesting if it turned out this was actually homicidal maniac P.I. Paul. There were a lot of missed opportunities here. Still, for all its faults, BAD BLOOD: THE MOVIE is an entertaining creature feature that has enough in it to justify a watch for any true fans of the monster movie subgenre.

2.5_skull

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Josef Luciano
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