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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Bloody Ballet

February 7, 2019 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Bloody Ballet

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #496: Bloody Ballet

DebuaryRebuary: Week 1

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that isn’t ashamed to admit that it has wondered, multiple times, if people actually walk around their homes naked as much as they seem to in the movies, not so much for prurient reasons but because it seems like something that was invented by the movies in order to squeeze in more nude scenes, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number four hundred and ninety-six, the celebration of B-movie icons Debbie Rochon and Reb Brown, Debuary Rebuary, begins with the low budget horror flick Bloody Ballet, featuring Debbie Rochon and Caroline Williams, which debuted in November of 2018.

Bloody Ballet

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Bloody Ballet, originally known as Fantasma and directed by Brett Mullen, is a terrific, new, very messed up horror flick about a troubled young woman at a big city ballet academy. Featuring excellent performances from modern horror genre icons Debbie Rochon and Caroline Williams, Bloody Ballet is an unnerving, gore filled mystery where you’re never quite sure what the heck is really happening. And while it’s true that the ending is, in a way, not all that surprising, the movie will still get under your skin and freak you the hell out. I mean, that’s what it did to me.

Bloody Ballet stars Kendra Staub as Adriana, a superstar ballet dancer at a ballet academy owned and operated by Ms. Valli (Caroline Williams). The academy is a super competitive place. The young women at the academy all seem like friends and whatnot on the outside, but on the inside they’re all out to get one another. Well, essentially. Adriana does have a best friend, Berna (Katie Carpenter), who isn’t out to get her, but Adriana does have a sort of main enemy in Elaina (Jae Hitch). For years, Elaina was always the lead in the big hooha Nutcracker show the academy did at the end of the year. Now, “this” year, Adriana is set to be the lead. The say that Elaina isn’t happy would be a serious understatement.

On top of the stress created by being at the academy and the upcoming show, Adriana is seeing a therapist (Dr. Carlina Cassinelli, as played by Debbie Rochon) to help her deal with a serious childhood trauma. See, when Adriana was a child, her parents were brutally murdered (their eyes were removed), and she’s been dealing with the after effects of that for her entire life. And on top of all that, Adriana is also experiencing panic attacks and weird visions where terrible things happen (like her spaghetti dinner looking like a plate of worms). Dr. Casinelli has Adriana on a medication to sort of help ease some of her stress, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Is Adriana experiencing something supernatural in origin? Is the Academy building, like, haunted or something?

Now, as Adriana deals with all of that, there’s a mysterious killer roaming the streets of the big city, killing young women at the academy. No one notices the deaths at first as anything other than terrible accidents/events, but as the body count rises, those that know begin to worry. Who the heck has it in for the young women at Ms. Valli’s academy? Is it the creepy as fuck janitor, Warren (Brett Wagner), who has a penchant for watching Ms. Valli undress? Is it the alleged supernatural entity that Adriana seems to think is messing with her mind? Is it just some random psycho stranger weirdo that likes to dress up in flamboyant clothing? And what’s the deal with the mask?

And while all of that is going on, there’s a sort of parallel story happening, where a reporter/researcher of some kind named McCabe (Rob Springer) is looking into an old building that, I guess, is adjacent to the academy building. That structure is definitely rumored to be haunted (there are tours of the grounds and everything) and McCabe wants to spend some time there alone, just to see if there’s anything to those “this place is haunted” rumors. How the heck does McCabe’s story fit in with Adriana’s? You’re going to have to watch the movie to find out.

And you should absolutely check out Bloody Ballet. It’s creepy, it’s nasty, and, as I said earlier, it will get under your skin. You’re never quite sure what’s happening with the story. Who is the killer? Why is the killer killing people? Will Adriana ever overcome her personal demons and get a chance to move on with her life? And is any of this actually supernatural, or is it all just, well, bullshit? I didn’t really see the ending coming. I thought that the real killer was going to be someone else, something different, but at the same time I wasn’t surprised by the ending. It all made sense.

Director Mullen, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Matt Cloude, does a great job building dread and a sense of unease about Adriana and what’s happening with her. Adriana is convinced, on some level, that what’s experiencing is supernatural in origin. It’s the only thing that makes sense to her. At the same time, Dr. Cassinelli is doing her damndest to make Adriana understand that the supernatural is nonsense, that it’s all in her head, and that she won’t be able to “fix” herself unless she comes to terms with reality. But then, again, what the heck is reality here? And what the hell is going on with McCabe? What’s his real deal?

I love that Bloody Ballet isn’t awash in dark greys and gloomy colors. Instead, the movie is filled with bright colors and, at least to me, has a candy colored red feel to it. The movie doesn’t hold back on the gore or nastiness, and when the blood and guts start flying you can actually see what the heck is going on. There’s also a terrific scene where a character starts barfing green ooze and it’s the most disgusting thing you’ve ever seen in your entire life, at least at that moment. There’s also an awesome as fuck sequence where it looks like a body is trying to burst out of another human body, and it’s all complicated and painful looking. Nothing is bursting out of anything. If something is going to reveal itself from something else, goddamit, it’s going to be painful looking. That’s awesome.

Bloody Ballet is also a movie that isn’t afraid to engage in nudity. It’s respectful nudity, yes, there’s no lingering on any particular thing, but it’s there and it’s kind of shocking, mostly because modern exploitation/B-movies tend to stay away from nudity that isn’t ironic or ridiculous. I didn’t expect to see as many topless scenes as this movie has. I like how Mullen seems to get that, while it’s always nice to see hot and beautiful women sans clothing, he isn’t doing it just to do it. The nudity is there to help show that these characters are just trying to live their lives and are completely unaware of the potential supernatural killer that’s after them because why would they be aware of it in the first place? How often does that kind of thing happen? I bet it happens way less than the number of times a young woman may walk from her bedroom to the bathroom while shirtless. That’s life. Getting your throat slit by a white masked wearing weirdo that also has a love for creepy music boxes only happens in the movies, at least until it actually happens to you.

The synth score by Matt Hill and NightStop is a true thing of beauty. The main theme is both haunting and catchy as hell. At first, the music seemed out of place. The score seemed more suited to a science fiction movie. However, as the movie progresses, the score becomes more and more appropriate and is something to behold. I hope that the soundtrack gets an official release because, damn, it’s awesome.

Kendra Staub does a terrific job as Adriana, the troubled young woman. Staub manages to handle the various emotions her character has to go through, and there isn’t a false note in her performance. Check out her scene with best friend Berna in the Italian restaurant right before she has her “worm” freak out. She seems happy and, well, normal. When the worms show up, Staub shifts into “Holy shit, what the hell is going on here?” mode. It will be interesting to see if this movie ends up being Staub’s horror movie calling card. I think it could be, if she decides to do more horror flicks.

Katie Carpenter is a hoot as Berna, Adriana’s best friend. She has great chemistry with Staub (they apparently worked on a web series together called Maid to Order, so that helps explain their easiness with one another) and is just fun to watch. She has her best friend’s back, and that’s exactly what you want in a best friend. I think you’ll be heartbroken by what happens to her.

Jae Hitch does a fine job as Elaina. She doesn’t have as much to do as Staub or Carpenter, but you’ll end up remembering her. The same goes for Brett Wagner as Warren the creepy janitor. Who the hell would hire this guy?

Rob Springer does a good job as McCabe, the reporter/researcher. It almost seems like he should have his own movie as his story seems interesting enough to warrant one. Still, even with his “limited” screen time, I think you’ll enjoy his excursion into the potentially haunted building that is, I guess, adjacent to the ballet academy.

Caroline Williams does an interesting job as academy owner and operator Ms. Valli. You’re never really sure what her deal is, if she’s just a person trying to run a business or if she’s the killer. I mean, there’s a moment where she smiles and, holy crap, I got freaked out a little.

BloodyBalletDebbieRochon

And then there’s Debbie Rochon as Adriana’s doctor Carlina Cassinelli. She has several nifty scenes with Staub, and she gets to do a little investigating, like a detective. As usual, Rochon rocks every scene she’s in, and with the investigation scenes, I think it’s obvious that someone needs to make a series of movies, or maybe a TV show, where Rochon investigates stuff. You know, like monsters and junk. I think it would work. I think it’s also awesome that, in Bloody Ballet Rochon’s character likes to watch old black and white serials while in bed. How often do you see that kind of thing, well, anywhere?

Bloody Ballet is a great, low budget horror flick. If you’re a fan of that kind of thing, and or a fan of the great Debbie Rochon and Caroline Williams, Bloody Ballet is a movie that you absolutely need to see. So track it down and check it out. You will not regret it. Not one bit.

See Bloody Ballet. See it, see it, goddamn see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 8

Explosions: None.

Nudity?: Yes.

Doobage: A woman standing alone at night while it’s snowing, ballet shoes, ballet practice, a ballet training montage, ass slapping, some very fine black underwear, a hot woman takes a shower, a dream about killing people, a haunted building, roll throwing, pasta turning into worms for some reason, mirror hallucinations, a faucet that’s left on, topless apartment dancing, record playing, music box hooey, throat slitting, a mannequin that cries, making out on the steps, attempted bed sex, a creepy doll, face slashing, a sliced up body left at the dinner table, drawing, one of the nastiest baths in horror movie history, a demon in a cave, a red skull demon with two women, an old book, a lesbian kiss, lipstick, a carousel, cigarette smoking, strangulation, bloody eye removal, pill bottle throwing, laptop research, a wrecked apartment, uncontrollable screaming, a gut monster, exposed intestines, glass vase to the head, Achilles tendon slicing with bone exposure, more bloody eye removal with bloody eye kissing, a gigantic chandelier, spike through the top of the head, sketches, a straight razor, ghosts, glass breaking, glass shards to the face, and a decomposing body.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: Caroline Williams, a local TV horror host show, a local kids clown show on a black and white TV because apparently those still exist in this world, Debbie Rochon, verbal therapy, a creepy janitor with a scarred up face, a mid-day wine date, pasta, listening to a record, a “Tacos & Tequila” T-shirt, music box hooey, catty girl shit, a douchebag boyfriend named “Seth,” Caroline Williams talking to herself in the mirror, TV shows in the public domain, Debbie Rochon using a calm voice, Debbie Rochon explaining that the supernatural is bullshit, Debbie Rochon doing research on her laptop, and a decomposing body.

Best lines: “Adriana, wake up!,” “Are there any new stressors in your life right now?,” “Now that’s the stuff!,” “Is it true everyone died?,” “Show’s over. You want a fucking autograph?,” “It’s not real!,” “Don’t you dare apologize to me. It’s okay,” “How can I explain what I can’t even comprehend?,” “Elaina, we’re kind of in the middle of something right now,” “Don’t touch me!,” “Okay, stop! You just have to breathe!,” “You are not crazy! Stop it! Grab ahold of yourself!,” “Do you trust me?,” “I need you to leave me alone, whatever you are,” “I’m gonna miss you so much!,” “I can’t control my mind anymore!,” “So, I’m supposed to follow you?,” “You’re a dancer,” “I am Adriana,” “You look at me! Look at me!,” “Adriana, fight this!,” and “You’re not welcome here!”

Rating: 9.0 /10.0

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Things to Watch Out For This Week

AlltheDevilsMan

All the Devil’s Men: Now this has all of the elements to be a badass low budget action flick. An ex-Navy SEAL turned bounty hunter taking on an ex-CIA operative and a bunch of mercenaries and shit in London for some reason. There’s shooting, there’s explosions, some guy gets suffocated with a plastic bag (which is just awful). The movie apparently stars Milo Gibson, Mel’s son, and the great William Fichtner, who is always worth watching. Check out the trailer, and then ask yourself if this is a must see. If you decide that it isn’t, well, I want to see it anyway. I mean, even the title is goddamn badass.

TheGuilty

The Guilty: This thriller comes to us from the country of Denmark and was that country’s official selection for Academy Awards consideration for 2019. It didn’t get nominated, but, hey, just being in the game is cool, right? I think this looks pretty decent and pretty creepy, and will be worth renting, just to see if it’s as unnerving as the trailer suggests. And, best of all, it’s only 85 minutes. That’s awesome. Anyone out there see this movie? Anyone at all?

YouMightBeTheKiller

You Might Be the Killer: I believe this horror comedy flick is currently on Shudder, so if you frequent that streaming service there’s a chance you’ve seen this. I have Shudder but haven’t had the chance to watch it, but it looks pretty decent and, amazingly, kind of funny. Alyson Hannigan is always a hoot when it’s supposed to be funny, so there’s that to look forward to. Definitely going to have to check this out on Shudder. Anyone out there see this one? Is it as funny as the trailer suggests?

HavanaDarkness

Havana Darkness: Well, how often do you see low budget horror flicks about mysterious lost novels by Ernest Hemmingway and people going to fucking Cuba to find it? And, on top of that, how many horror movies do you see set in Cuba? Yes, it doesn’t really look like anything we haven’t seen a million times before (people have just got to stop going to fare flung places to find shit that sound too good to be true because, well, they’re always too good to be true and you just end up dead anyway. How many times do people have to go through all of that to figure it out?), but it does look worth renting, just to see if it’s any good. I mean, there’s always a chance that it could be good. And the title is awesome. Havana Darkness. How is that not a band name?

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Do you like Cult TV?

KolchakNSDVD

The 1970’s TV thriller Kolchak: The Night Stalker is first up! Check out what I think about the show with the links below!

Issue #1
Issue #2
Issue #3
Issue #4

… and coming very soon: Street Hawk!

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B-Movie News

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Scott Adkins teaming up with Jesse V. Johnson for new TV show Ascenders!: I saw this over at the Action Flix website, and that site apparently got it from the fine folks over at City on Fire (that link is in the Action Flix article), and I have to say this could very well be the most badass TV show since Ash vs. Evil Dead. The show, which is set to have Adkins star and Johnson, I assume, direct/produce, has Adkins as a guy who manages to escape hell so he can solve his own murder. Hell, pissed off that Adkins escaped, sends a team of “demonic” bounty hunters after him. The first season, or maybe it’s meant to be a one and done series, is expected to be ten one hour episodes. No network, as of yet, has signed on for the show, but, man, how could any network pass on this?

I mean, come on, it’s Scott goddamn Adkins fighting off demonic bounty hunters for ten hours. With Jesse V. Johnson directing. Again, how could anyone pass this series up? There should be a fucking bidding war for the show. I know I would watch the show if it got picked up. And it needs to get picked up.

Would you watch a TV show where Scott Adkins fights demons?

SnakePlisskenEFNY2

Leigh Whannell writing the Escape from New York remake?: Apparently, yes, that seems to be the case. I saw this story over at Bloody Disgusting, and it’s perplexing. Why? Because I thought Robert Rodriguez was doing the Escape from New York remake/reboot/whatever the hell it is. The article seems to suggest that Whannell is not only writing a script but is also in the running to, maybe, direct.

Well, if Whannell is in the running to direct, is he expected to do that after doing that The Invisible Man remake? Or is this just a writing assignment and Rodriguez is still set to direct? The article doesn’t mention Rodriguez at all.

I still haven’t seen Whannell’s Upgrade, which is, as I understand it, gaining new fans every week via home video. And, to a certain extent, there’s no reason for me to believe that Whannell couldn’t do a good job with a new Snake Plissken movie. However, I really wanted to see what Rodriguez had planned for the property. He’s a fan of the movie and John Carpenter, and I do believe he would have done an excellent job with it. Perhaps we’ll hear more about whatever it is Rodriguez has in store next when his James Cameron collaboration Alita: Battle Angel gets released. Did Rodriguez pass on Snake Plissken so he could make a third Machete?

So what do you guys think? Should Whannell do this Escape from New York remake, or should it be Robert Rodriguez?

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Check out my Widow’s Point set visit report!

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Read it here!

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Who is the Douchebag of the Week? Go here and find out!

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Next Issue: Debuary Rebuary continues with Yor, the Hunter from the Future starring Reb Brown

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Interviews

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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

Bloody Ballet

Kendra Staub– Adriana
Katie Carpenter– Berna
Debbie Rochon– Dr. Carlina Cassinelli
Caroline Williams– Ms. Valli
Jae Hitch– Elaina Kimper
Brett Wagner– Warren
Rob Springer– McCabe
Shane Terry– The Killer

Directed by Brett Mullen
Screenplay by Matt Cloude and Brett Mullen

Distributed by High Octane Pictures

Not Rated
Runtime– 84 minutes

Buy it here


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