Slimy horror comedy Bad Blood: The Movie gets lost in the swamp
On paper, the idea of a “werefrog” isn’t the worst idea for a horror film. It aint the best. But it’s not the worst. Writer/director Tim Reis’ Bad Blood: The Movie (as opposed to Bad Blood: The Barbecue Sauce?) is about just that, an unfortunate girl who is mysteriously cursed with amphibian lycanthropy and must resort to science to dial-down her monstrous tendencies. And while the concept could serviceably be rendered into a swampy, gender-swap riff on An American Werewolf in London (a movie it does quote visually more than once), Bad Blood: The Movie (heretofore only referred to as Bad Blood) settles for being, well, just kind of bad; a horror/comedy that isn’t very funny and is never remotely scary.
Mary Malloy stars as Victoria, a rebellious young woman who lives at home with her fascist runt of a stepfather and her oddly subservient mother. One night the girl rolls step-dad’s car out of the driveway to go party with her friend, the same night as some sort of felon is running wild and, after a stop at a poorly-lit gas station run by a strange dude (Vikas Adam), the girls are attacked by that escaped crook who is in fact some sort slimy, web-fingered beast. The friend’s head is ripped off, Victoria is slashed and the monster slain and before she can get her bearings, she’s whisked away by the gas station attendee to some sort of undisclosed location.
Flash forward a month, with Victoria’s parents now looking for her, mom who is terrified for her daughters safety, dad because he’s pissed. They hire an annoying private eye (Troy Halverson) who has inexplicable homicidal fantasies of violently murdering everyone he meets and within hours of bumbling around, he finds the girl camping in the neighboring woods (the local police must have not tried very hard in their search). But there’s more to the tale. Seems Victoria is now connected to the gas station guy, who is really a scientist (and not credible in either role) and who is experimenting with frogs and humans in his basement. Since she was attacked by a werefrog, Victoria is now one herself and must get regular injections from the petrol peddler of a glowing Re-Animator-esque goo to keep her reptilian nature at bay.
But when the private dick takes Victoria back home, she is denied the juice to keep her from shapeshifting and soon her bad blood causes much mayhem.
Reis (like he was with his previous film The Demon’s Rook) is obviously saddled with a very modest budget and that’s the problem: it shows. It shows because instead of shooting smartly within the confines of what he could afford, Reis lards what could have been a very simple domestic story of a girl battling the beast inside, into a tone-deaf tapestry of middling actors, endless exposition and silly science that doesn’t make sense. Of course, said science doesn’t need to make sense. The movie is about a werefrog after all. So why bother trying to put amateur actors through the paces of explaining such foolishness?
The monster suit itself is pretty great, an old-school fully body getup that looks like The Gill-Man meets C.H.U.D but the problem is, we see too much of it. We see the frog-creature in endless longs shots; we see it running, jumping, stalking around and because he’s so overexposed, we see every goofy rubber fold. And the rest of the movie’s visuals are equally misguided. Reis chokes his movie with dry ice and colored gels, which would be fine if the movie was meant to be surreal but it’s not, it takes place in the “real world” and thus the lighting shenanigans are distracting.
Now, all of these criticisms aside, Bad Blood does have a few good things going for it, namely slime. This is probably the stickiest movie in recent memory, with goo oozing over everything and much of it is effectively revolting. There’s also a mutated Bullfrog that we loved, a gigantic croaking thing in a cage that may or may not hold the secret to the curse. But even that amazingly absurd element builds to nothing.
Reis is trying to make an ‘80s monster mash gorefest with Bad Blood but it doesn’t go far enough in either direction, not gory enough, not funny enough and not weird enough. And for a movie about a girl who turns into a flesh-eating frog when the moon is full, that’s a shame.
Bad Blood just played at Toronto’s Lost Episodes Film Festival this past weekend and is still doing the festival circuit.It plays next at Horror Channel’s FrightFest in London.