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Bloodthirst Review

October 24, 2023 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Bloodthirst Image Credit: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
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Bloodthirst Review  

Bloodthirst Review

Costas Mandylor– John Shepard
Tara Reid– Vampire Queen
Robert LaSardo– Vampire Master
Bishop Stevens– Torque
Johnny Huang– Charlie
Sarah French– Brooke Thompson
Elissa Dowling– Elena Thompson
Rich R. Rendon– Rico
William “Bill” Connor– Daddy Thompson

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Michael Su
Screenplay by Adrian Milnes, based on a story by Massimiliano Cerchi

Distributed by Lionsgate

Rated R for bloody violence and language
Runtime– 89 minutes

Bloodthirst will be available on DVD starting October 31st, 2023

Buy it here

Image Credit: Lionsgate Home Entertainemnt

Bloodthirst, directed by Michael Su and set to hit DVD via Lionsgate on October 31st, 2023, is an uneven but still fairly entertaining post-apocalyptic vampire movie. The movie makes some truly baffling choices, as well as odd omissions considering the sort of movie it is and wants to be, but it features a very game cast, some fine performances, and is one of the best looking low budget genre movies in recent memory. You can tell after about three minutes that director Su and company really paid attention, visually, to the world they wanted to show off to the movie watching audience. I just wish they paid attention to some other script based details that are vitally important.

Bloodthirst stars Costas Mandylor as John Shepard, a lone badass vampire hunter who travels the barren post-apocalyptic landscape looking for human survivors as well as vampires to kill. Shepard seems to be looking for a specific vampire master (Robert LaSardo), who is actually known as the Vampire Master, as, I guess, the Vampire Master is somehow responsible for ushering in the vampire apocalypse. While looking for the Vampire Master Shepard runs into various people, like Charlie (Johnny Huang), who is resourceful and alone but not as cunning as Shepard. Shepard also meets Rico (Rich R. Rendon), a biker badass who seems to be roaming the barren landscape simply because that’s what he does (Rico isn’t a vampire hunter although he likely has had to deal with them while on the road). There’s also the Thompson family, which consists of Daddy Thompson (William “Bill” Connor) and his two daughters Brooke and Elena (the great Sarah French and Elissa Dowling). The Thompsons have a sort of quasi compound that they live in, and we see the sisters getting around via a hot rod (I guess it wouldn’t be the post-apocalypse without someone driving around in a suped up car).

While all of that is going on, the Vampire Master, along with his Vampire Queen (Tara Reid) and other assorted vampire henchmen, go from settlement to settlement killing survivors, drinking blood, and, on occasion, turning people into vampires. And while all of that is going on, there’s another vampire leader, a sort of vampire dwarf that’s known as the Ultimate Vampire Master (Wesley Cannon). I’m not entirely sure if the Ultimate Vampire Master is the Vampire Master’s boss or if the two masters are explicit rivals. You can tell by the way the Ultimate Master reacts to news of what the Master Vampire is up to that they are rivals, but it isn’t really clear if they have a relationship where, in the big scheme of things they’re actually working together or if they’re leaders of rival vampire groups. The Ultimate Master only has a few scenes and, I assume, is going to figure into whatever sequel is made (and according to the end credits we will be getting a sequel).

And while all of that is going on, there’s also a human militia run by a guy named Torque (Bishop Stevens). Torque’s militia isn’t interested in rebuilding civilization or protecting whatever is left of humanity; all they want is tribute and to rule what is left. If you find yourself within Torque’s militia’s realm, you will find yourself fighting off both militia members and vampires. That’s messed up.

One of the biggest problems with Bloodthirst is that it fails to explain what the rules are for the post-apocalyptic vampire world. For instance, how do you kill one of these vampires? Why can they walk around in the sun? Why can some of them be injured via looking at a cross while others apparently can’t be? On top of that, how did the apparent vampire apocalypse happen? Did the vampires actually initiate the apocalypse that destroyed the world or did they come out of whatever caused the apocalypse? And just how widespread is the apocalypse? Is it actually worldwide or is it localized to a specific area? When the movie begins we see an older couple who are farmers of some sort. What are they farming? How was their farm impacted by whatever happened in the apocalypse? The movie never really delves into any of this or try to explain it. I mean, Shepard seems to understand some elements of the vampire threat but he doesn’t seem to know all that much more than other people. It’s like Shepard is learning as he goes.

I mean, why have an opening voiceover that doesn’t really set anything up? Why not do an opening crawl that explains what the heck is going on vampire post-apocalypse wise? And why not have someone, maybe Shepard or even the old woman with the eye patch that Shepard meets with and gives him a crucifix, take a minute and explain how to kill a vampire, how the vampires started, and anything else the audience might need to know about the threat Shepard and the others face. What’s with all of the religious talk? What does it have to do with anything?

And what’s the deal with some people being bitten by a vampire and not becoming one? How is that possible? What rules from this world allow that to happen? Why isn’t this stuff explained/talked about?

Bloodthirst could also use more in the way of action. What we do get is decent and exciting enough, but there are moments where it seems like far too many characters are just standing around spouting dense dialogue that just doesn’t mean anything. Instead, those characters should be engaged in some sort of violent action. The movie does deliver on the blood and gore, though. When a vampire bites someone it’s a truly nasty experience. The vampires are also deadly monsters without a hint of culture or refinement. The vampire altered voices are disturbing as hell, especially the voice of main bad guy LaSardo.

Bloodthirst looks nothing short of amazing. The costumes, the makeup, the various sets, it all comes off looking like a real, “lived in” world that’s also somehow bigger than life. The John Shepard costume is a terrific combination of Hugh Jackman’s Van Helsing and a cowboy that also wears a gas mask. Shepard’s look is ready made for some sort of action figure. I do think, though, that Shepard needs more and deadlier weapons. The crossbows he uses are cool but he needs more, like a spike shooting shotgun or a sword/big knife (it also wouldn’t be a bad thing if he had some explosives. Who doesn’t like to watch things blow up in a post-apocalyptic movie?). The trench coat and hat are awesome.

Costas Mandylor does a great job as John Shepard the vampire hunter. Mandylor makes Shepard both world weary and optimistic, which is hard to pull off considering the story takes place in the aftermath of a vampire apocalypse. When Shepard has to spring into action Mandylor knows exactly what to do and how to present himself (and when you consider how much garb he’s under that’s amazing). I just hope that Mandylor gets more to do in the eventual sequel. I want to see the vampire hunter shoot vampires with his crossbows and beat the crap out of monsters.

Robert LaSardo is evil personified as the Vampire Master. The Vampire Master is an unrepentant killer who enjoys being a monster. The Vampire Master also clearly enjoys deciding who gets to live and become a vampire and who gets “drained dry.” There’s nothing even remotely redeemable about him. You despise him through and through. And yet LaSardo knows how to make the Vampire Master supremely watchable; you can’t take your eyes off of him. Part of that is you’re scared to death of him, and part of it is you want to see what’s going to happen to him next. Is he going to meet up with Shepard the vampire hunter? Terrific stuff.

Tara Reid seems to be having the time of her life as the Vampire Queen. Pure evil just like LaSardo’s Vampire Master, Reid’s Vampire Queen enjoys instilling fear in those around her while also killing anyone and everything that she wants to die. The makeup that they use on Reid is also incredibly disturbing at times. Reid’s Vampire Queen will give you nightmares.

Johnny Huang does a decent job as Charlie, the hapless guy that John Shepard rescues. Charlie has survival skills, sure, but they’re really more suited for the pre-vampire apocalypse world. Will he be able to adapt those skills to this new world, or will he have to rely on Shepard’s protection? And will the vampire apocalypse completely destroy his sense of humor?

Sarah French and Elissa Dowling are fantastic as Brooke and Elena, the Thompson sisters. Even though they live and work with their father (that would be William “Bill” Connor’s Daddy) you get the sense that they would likely survive just fine without him in the post-vampire apocalypse world. You can easily see the movie being about them if John Shepard wasn’t around. French and Dowling make a great team.

Rich R. Rendon as Rico is another character you can see being the focus of the movie if Shepard wasn’t the main character. There’s just something infinitely cool about a badass biker riding around the vampire apocalypse just trying to survive. Rico also has a pretty sweet shotgun, which is very much the kind of weapon you expect a badass biker to have. I think you’ll be surprised by what happens to Rico. I know I wasn’t expecting it.

And Bishop Stevens does a superb job as the amoral militia head Torque. Stevens makes Torque the kind of charismatic leader people would probably get behind in the event of a vampire apocalypse. It will be interesting to see how many people agree with the decisions he makes in the movie. I’m sure there are people out there who will think Torque is just being “pragmatic” considering the state of the world. But is that stance right or reprehensible? The movie makes it clear who Torque is, but will the audience agree with that?

Bloodthirst has a lot to it to recommend. A great cast, amazing production design, and the movie delivers on the blood and gore. I just wish it had a better, more developed script. The audience needs to know things that the movie, for whatever reason, just isn’t interested in divulging. We need to know what the rules are in the vampire apocalypse. We just do. That should be story and plot priority number one.

Even with its issues, Bloodthirst is still worth seeing. And if and when that sequel ever happens I hope that part one’s issues are cleaned up in part two.

See Bloodthirst. See it, see it, see it. Bloodthirst will be available on DVD from Lionsgate starting October 31st, 2023.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: It has to be over 50 onscreen. Has to be.

Explosions: None. And that’s shocking.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: A voiceover that doesn’t really explain much, vampires that can walk in the sun, rock farming, wrist biting, serious neck biting, cowardice that’s totally relatable, bag throwing, attempted fist fighting, armpit biting (that’s what it looks like to me), suicide via hedge clippers, gas mask hooey, a glass bottle of liquid, a guy on a motorcycle shooting at vampires with his double barrel shotgun, attempted use of a cross, more neck biting, talk of human dignity, a sheriff’s car, multiple rotting dead bodies, an old woman wearing an eyepatch, a special crucifix, a ghoul vampire, cowardice that’s just cowardice, even more neck biting, more wrist biting, talking of a “coming war,” face slapping, a vampire biting another vampire, shotgun attack, abject cruelty, hot rod hooey, talk of converting cars to run on alcohol instead of gas, talk of using “garlic shells” on vampires, knife stealing, crossbow arrow hooey, talk of taxes, potential psychic link to vampires, multiple vampire attacks, cigar smoking, some vampire argument bullshit, bondage, even more neck and arm biting, attempted human shield, gut stabbing, serious throat slitting, a final confrontation that isn’t very satisfying, arrow to the hand, bullet to the head, and the promise of a sequel.

Kim Richards? None.

Gratuitous: Costas Mandylor, Costas Mandylor doing the voiceover, Robert LaSardo, vampires that can apparently walk in the sun, an old couple that’s attacked by vampires, suicide via hedge clippers, Costas Mandylor wearing a hat, trench coat, and gas mask, attempted people hiding, Robert LaSardo smelling a fat guy, an old woman with an eye patch and a machine gun, a super crucifix, Tara Reid, Tara Reid playing a vampire, Robert LaSardo smelling Tara Reid, a stepfather willingly giving up his stepdaughters for a vampire to bite and kill so he won’t get bitten, Costas Mandylor checking a guy for bites, Sarah French, Elissa Dowling, garlic shotgun shells, a hot rod, teeth checking, a guy named Nosferatu for some reason, an obnoxious fat guy, Humvees, a guy puts his cigar out on a dead vampire’s forehead, serious douchebaggery, a big brawl, a final confrontation that isn’t very satisfying, and the promise of a sequel.

Best lines: “If you run now I’ll let you live,” “God will damn you forever for this!,” “Drain her. But leave this one alone. I want him to turn,” “Like a shepherd I must attend to my flock,” “You belong to me now. Fuck you! I’ll never belong to you! Ever!,” “You gotta get me outta here! Son, you got bigger problems. You been bit. You’re already dead, man,” “Do I got to pop out an eyeball to get an honest answer from you vermin?,” “God has failed you,” “If you’re going to be a good liar you better recognize who is lying to you,” “You take care now. Always trust in the crucifix. I’ll see you through to the light,” “Respect me!,” “Oh, master, I haven’t fed in days,” “This shouldn’t happen! It’s wrong!,” “My name’s Jeff. I’m just a farmer. They bit me!,” “Please, you don’t want me. I have hepatitis,” “You kill’em, you bag’em,” “We are not cops! I repeat, we are not police officers!,” “We’re looking for the master,” “We got trouble. Ah, shit, vampires,” “Adios, mothersuckers!,” “You are the hunter the master spoke of!,” “Hell, John, I should have been dead already. The way I look at it, any chance to kill one of those things, I’m good,” “You sure you know what I’m doing? Just winging it as usual,” “Okay, vampire hunter, you got me interested. Let’s go talk,” “I’ll cut your balls off and feed them to your little pet,” “Let’s go before they get rapey again,” “I have arrived. I am Nosferatu,” “You sold out the human race!,” “You asshole. That I am,” “I had faith in you. Make me understand why you betrayed me. Because I don’t have faith in you, vampire hunter,” “Are you judging me or my faith?,” “Does it hurt you so much that I’ve decided to live?,” “Your adrenalin will only make your blood taste sweeter!,” “You kill one of mine prepare to take his place,” “How ya doing there, boss?,” and “Hey, John, I’m gonna take a final ride. If I need you, I’ll find you.”

The final score: review Good
The 411
Bloodthirst, directed by Michael Su, is an uneven but still fairly entertaining post-apocalyptic vampire movie. The movie makes some truly baffling choices, as well as odd omissions considering the sort of movie it is and wants to be, but it features a very game cast, some fine performances, and is one of the best looking low budget genre movies in recent memory. You can tell after about three minutes that director Su and company really paid attention, visually, to the world they wanted to show off to the movie watching audience. I just wish they paid attention to some other script based details that are vitally important. Like the rules. We, the audience, need to know the rules of the apocalypse. Still, even with its issues, Bloodthirst is worth checking out. See it, see it, see it. Bloodthirst will be available on DVD via Lionsgate starting October 31st, 2023.

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Bloodthirst, Bryan Kristopowitz