Ginger Nuts of Horror
Carnivorous cars, carnal knowledge and total carnage.
The SyFy Channel’s latest offering of a break from the norm is the wittily titled ‘Blood Drive’, the plot of which is fairly straightforward in that it’s a car race set in a version of 1999 which we all know didn’t happen here. In this version of reality the United States has been split apart by a natural disaster and an evil corporation has exploited this to gain the type of power we’ve seen before in films such as Robocop (Think ‘Omnicorp’ and you’re not far off the mark). In fact, if we’re talking films here, which I am, then ‘Blood Drive’ is better explained because it has somewhat derivative content, especially if you are old enough to have seen ‘The Gumball Rally’, ‘The Cannonball Run’, ‘Mad Max’ and especially Paul Bartel’s cult classic ‘Death Race 2000’ from 1975. It takes all of the best aspects of those films and blends them into a (ahem) ‘high-octane’, high speed, high action bloodbath. Death Race 2000 was a brutal no-holds-barred extravaganza with a high body count, giving participants bonus points for eliminating not just other contenders but also random members of the public unlucky enough to get in the way of the drivers. ‘Blood Drive’ has a similar thing going for it, but with the more unusual twist that the cars have living engines fuelled by the blood of their victims, and make no mistake; there IS blood, bucketloads of it. This is gruesome fare, but not to the point where it’s all about the gore, there’s so much more to it than that.
Arthur Bailey is a good cop, as such his character is somewhat dare I say deliberately bland as he seems determined to stick to the law no matter what. This all goes awry when he discovers the ‘Blood Drive’ and whilst spying on it gets captured and injected with an explosive device which will blow his head off if he does anything that the organizer of the race deems against the rules. Arthur, having no choice but to take part in the Blood Drive is partnered with Grace D’Argento who is as Fatale as a Femme can get and totally determined to win the race at any cost, especially as, with a nod to ‘The Hunger Games’ the winners are the only survivors. Each heat in this race is an elimination stage, quite literally, as coming in last thins out the herd in spectacularly nasty fashion. Not for the squeamish.
Is it all just violence? Actually no, there’s sex too, but it’s a necessary plot device in a similar fashion to Jason Statham’s ‘Crank’, which is delivered with equal humour. This is where what could be just a standard gorefest becomes something above average as it is, to my mind anyway, somewhat reminiscent of the kids show ‘Wacky Races’ but with no ‘Peter Perfect’ or ‘Penelope Pitstop’ but absolutely having a ‘Dick Dastardly’ character in the shape of Julian Slink, the Master of Ceremonies for the race, who is almost cartoonish in appearance and demeanour as well as being laugh-out-loud funny even when performing acts of exceptional brutality. The humour of Slink and general light approach throughout only serves to highlight the bloodthirsty nature of the show in general and prevents it from being just another exploitative show.
Back in the day ‘Grindhouse’ denoted films which were generally considered low budget, low talent and brain fodder for morons, but in recent years ‘Grindhouse’ is gaining a favourable reputation amongst lovers of anything-goes horror who find the mainstream too boring. The budgets are better, the production values are better (but still deliberately managing to make things look amateurish and sleazy in a 1970s style), and the acting is better, which is all for the betterment of ‘Grindhouse’ as it rises in popularity. I didn’t think I would live long enough to see ‘Grindhouse’ TV Shows, but here we are in the much more enlightened, discerning and demanding 21st Century with The SyFy Channel broadcasting ‘Blood Drive’ which I can only hope is the first of many such offerings. So go ahead, grab some popcorn, a drink of your favourite poison, and make a routine of watching ‘Blood Drive’, you won’t be disappointed.
DEBUTS ON THE SYFY CHANNEL 10TH AUGUST AT 10PM