Wednesday, October 21, 2020

QUEEN OF BLOOD (2014) Blu-ray Review

SCARE-A-THON Totals to Date: 

Total Movies Watched: 20 
Total First Time Views: 12 
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $1,446.40 

Queen of Blood (2014) d. Chris Alexander (USA) (77 min) (1st viewing)

A semi-sequel of sorts to writer/director Alexander’s 2012 offering, Blood for Irina, with our titular undead (Shauna Henry) relocated from her previous urban environs to a mystical wooded glade. Based on the period clothing and rustic setting, one might even consider it a prequel except for the fact that it seems to exist in a no-time world where even speech is out of fashion. Yes, it’s a silent, independent, art-house, vampire flick intended as much a tribute to Werner Herzog and Terence Malick (in terms of pacing and attention to the natural surroundings) as it is to the films of Jean Rollin or Jess Franco.

No matter how you slice it, this is a niche film for a (patient) niche audience, one that proudly wears its microbudget and heady aspirations on its sleeve, proudly thumbing its nose at traditional genre (or filmmaking) standards. It’s admirable on the one hand... and nearly interminable on the other. The 77 minutes that make up its running (never was a word less apt) time tick slowly by, giving us plenty of opportunity to wonder just what the heck Alexander expects us to get from his glacial unfolding or his distracted lensing of the surrounding flora and fauna.

In fact, after about 20 minutes, that’s essentially what I did, flipping over to the commentary track to listen to the former Fangoria editor defend his decisions to eschew all dialogue in service of a “tone poem,” one alternately shot with a Canon DSLR and an iPhone 4 and 5 by either himself or producer/co-star David Goodfellow. Casual and chatty, Alexander (who also scored and edited) makes for an entertaining host to his passion project, and as we listen, we form a comradeship that the film itself does not foster. We become Chris’ friend and, as such, we’re interested in hearing about his process without intrinsically enjoying the product of his labors.

Goodfellow, who also appeared in Blood for Irina, plays a woodcutter who brings the bedraggled bloodsucker home to his cottage where, after cleaning her up, he willingly becomes her first meal. (Alexander does introduce the unique touch of a vampire who kills not with fangs, but by jamming fingers into victims’ throats.) Once satiated, Irina moves on through the forest, encountering random passsersby whenever it strikes her creator’s fancy, but rarely with any drama or thrills attached. Instead, as Alexander puts it, she is simply an extension of Nature and her prey is simply part of the dance.

Being a minimalist piece, it’s unsurprising that there are few notable characters, the two other supporting parts being of an expectant mother (Carrie Gemmell, aka Mrs. Alexander) and a roving homicidal preacher (Nivek Ogre,). The latter is a worthwhile casting coup, and the former Skinny Puppy frontman injects some much needed juice into the proceedings whenever he’s onscreen. Ultimately, however, it’s Irina’s show and she’s in no big hurry.

I quite enjoyed Blood for Irina when I encountered it seven years ago, seeing it as a creative making art on his own terms, making do with what he had available to him. For some reason however, I’m less enamored of this, his second effort, if only because he genuinely seems less interested in satisfying an(y) audience and more with creating for the sake the act itself. There’s a purity to his vision, and he does captures some striking imagery (one of the strongest being the opening tableau of Irina slowly dragging herself out of a small muddy pond, leaving a trail of blood behind her), but it all feels so unapologetically self-indulgent that I’m less inclined to extend generosity and goodwill. Alexander is not aiming to please; as such, left to enjoy or not on my own terms, this was not my cup of blood. That said, I find I can still admire the artist if not the art.


Audio Commentary with writer/director Chris Alexander
Gore Gaffes
Directing Ogre
Alternate Endings
Theatrical Trailer
Cast/Crew QA from the Toronto Premiere

Queen of Blood is available now on Blu-ray from Intervision/Severin Films and can be ordered HERE:

No comments:

Post a Comment