Welcome once more, advocates of the atrocious, to the third installment of The B-Reel. I apologize for the rather lengthy period of time since my last review, but it seems that people these days are intent on making students actually attend to their academic duties, it truly is mind boggling… Indeed, it would be nothing short of my life’s dream to rot away in front of the gelatinous ooze which dribbles from the corners of my much abused Travesty Monitor; gradually becoming one with the Throne of Reviewing as my eyes start to bleed somewhat more regularly than I assume to be normal. I have, however, been deprived of fulfilling this unhealthy fantasy by a veritable plethora of alternate responsibilities, like encroaching deadlines and maintaining close friendships and other annoying crap. It is for this reason that I have chosen to take a break from fantasy in favor of a particularly appalling subject from the horror genre (a treat, or sorts): Blood Gnome! You can check out the trailer here.
An independent production Brought to us by Amsell Entertainment and Turning Point Films in 2004, Blood Gnome isn’t even technically a movie, instead falling under the classification of “Video Production”. I first stumbled across this film in the DVD section of my local Poundland ($1 Store to you uncultured Yanks) and hastily proceeded to forget about it. It was only when I was ridiculed by a fellow film student for just having the DVD on my shelf that I decided it was time to break the seal and release the… terror? The terror in this case being primarily found in the revelation that the entire film is shot in 4:3 aspect ratio. Oh dear.
The film follows the tribulations of Daniel, a Crime Scene Photographer who begins to unravel the truth behind a series of gruesome murders exclusively surrounding BDSM fetishists. Now, I know what you’re thinking, this is a rather suspect set-up for a horror film… And you’re absolutely correct. What we have here is an old fashion sub-genre combo, and a marginally original one at that. The film seems to be a bizarre amalgamation of old-school Italian sexploitation horror and Critters-esque creature features. Almost like someone went on a really bad trip on shrooms whilst sat in a small room in front of two televisions, one playing Gremlins whilst the other loops Busty Satanic Nuns 3 (I made that up [honest!]).
To it’s credit, the film makes absolutely no attempt to masque it’s subject matter. As opposed to bashfully covering it’s sins with some dirty bedsheets and muttering woeful Hail Mary’s to any priests which may happen to be lurking in the audience (of which I am sure there are none), the film wears it’s sexuality like a badge of honor. That being said, it doesn’t really slide into full-on Giallo territory either, instead remaining relatively sober in it’s approach to the BDSM world from the perspective of our alienated protagonist. I’m not exactly what one could describe as an “intimate” person, but I had little trouble stomaching the adult nature of the film despite it’s blatant bravado; though that may be because I was pissing myself with laughter at the time.
The belated praise of the previous paragraph aside, I would just like to clarify that this film is ludicrously bad. There are so many things wrong with this picture that it could easily be considered a stilted reaction if one were to vomit an entire years worth of accidentally ingested spiders into the DVD player after but ten minutes of watching it. This film is so bad that not only would my Play Station 3 not play the disc, but it fully crashed the console whilst trying. This film is so bad that my Xbox 360 (the superior machine, called upon only in times of dire need) had to pause every so often whilst a little bar at the bottom of the screen informed me that it was “ATTEMPTING TO READ MEDIA”. This film is so fucking bad that my 40” Travesty Monitor was constructed sans DVD player so that this film, SPECIFICALLY this film, would not be able to break it if it did have one.
To save all of us some precious time I shall refrain from going into any kind of detail about the film’s casting or performances. Suffice it to say that there is not really anyone worth mentioning, short of a large mustached man who appeared as a Billy Idol fan in The Wedding Singer. The protagonist is part of the film crew, the pretty young love interest is actual made of cardboard and not a real person at all, the main baddie is a butch stunt woman and pretty much everyone else (short of 4 or 5 minor characters) is apparently a porn star. In simpler terms, there’s lots of boobs and no one tries to act.
What baffles me most about this picture is that it never seems to clock on to just how bad it really is, unlike many of the tongue-in-cheek DVDs you may happen upon floating around my blatantly haunted Travesty Containment Facility.
It ambles along in enviable jollity, oblivious to the shrill, harrowed screams of it’s cinematic peers withering at the very sight of their malformed brethren. A fine example of this can been seen in the film’s initial twist, that being the way in which our protagonist begins to smell the fish, as it were. During his first investigative shoot of the film, Daniel begins to suspect crazy shenanigans at play when his super-awesome video camera pics up one of the titular Blood Gnomes taking a stroll around the block. Now, it’s not the events of this scene that baffle me, but the camera itself. Without a great deal research other than the blurry retrospective vision of a depressed, early twenties head-banger suffering from fatigue, I would say that the camera in question is a Sony Mini-DV Camcorder of a moderate price tag (presumably the same type of camera the damn thing was filmed on). This opens to the floor to two questions: Firstly, why does everything on the little monitor appear to be in some kind of night-vision green? Secondly, how the fuck is an early 2000s Mini-DV Camcorder supposed to be powerful enough to see through a busty police officer’s cotton shirt (that actually happens) let alone through the magical powers of invisibility possessed by a group of monstrous imps? To these questions, I have no answers… only despair.
Believe it or not, however, not everything in this film is terrible. No, there is one aspect of the piece which manages to push itself high above many of the other B-Movies in my dismally huge collection. What be this, ask ye? Why, the prosthetics, answer I.
Yes indeed, the horrific gnome-beasts, severed limbs and tentacled Lovecraftian demon freaks of this film are just down-right fucking awesome. I have watched many a modern B-horror in my time and the majority of them possess about the same level of creative artistry as one might happen upon at the bottom of a grievously exploited toaster, and with less than half the actual carbon. In short, most films these days rely too heavily on their magical pixel machines to churn out scary polygons. The intention to have the audience wizzing through their Y-fronts like defective garden sprinklers is soon crushed when the spectators’ laughter turns them all into something a little more akin to the common garden hose. This is a pit-fall which Blood Gnome successfully manages to cross, presumably using a makeshift bridge constructed out of fake severed arms. The model work at play is impressive, in a Basket Case kind of way, and I think it may be just enough to raise this film to a level of mediocre respectability. That and the fact that the final monster is a horrific, sharp-toothed vagina beast nestled in a writhing mass of tentacles, half vomiting half birthing Blood Gnomes every time it feasts on human flesh. Call me sick, call me perverted, but that’s pretty damn cool. It should also be noted that the grotesque creatures in question utter death squeals you may or may not recognize from venerable N64 game Turok 2: Seeds of Evil. Not only did this make me extreme happy, but it also made filling my Video Game Reference Quota that much easier.
In summary, don’t watch Blood Gnome unless your fully prepared for what you’re getting into. The experience may go one of two ways, depending on your disposition. You may find yourself choking down laughter as you and a group of friends slowly become more and more inebriated, the screening slowly transforming into a good, old-fashioned terrible movie party. OR. Your will forcefully puke undead, mutant spiders all over your favorite bible. Your call, Daredevil.
AJT “Mutie” Neill