Bleed (2002)

Own it!

review by Scott Hamilton and Chris Holland
See also:

The Toolbox Murders

The Dorm That Dripped Blood

Graduation Day


Lava LampLava Lamp

Our rating: two LAVA® motion lamps.

First Jim Carrey, now this guy.
The cable company needs a
new HR department.
If Bleed has the feel of a movie made on the training grounds for the next generation of Full Moon filmmakers, there's a reason for it. Full Moon is listed as one of the production companies, and Full Moon patriarch Charles Band signed on as executive producer, although it's difficult to tell what involvement, if any, he had in the film's creation. The folks who made Bleed may be working under the wings of Uncle Charlie, but they seem to have their own ideas about the kinds of movies they want to make.

Certainly, this little horror flick has some of the, er, thriftier hallmarks of a Full Moon film. It was filmed entirely in Los Angeles -- in fact, most of the office sets give the impression that the characters work at a firm producing posters for b-movies. The budget isn't microscopic, but it certainly isn't lavish. The direction and camera work are professional, if unimaginative. Most of all, the actors involved are right at Full Moon's level: ranging from the nearly competent to the just barely present, they manage to get the job done, but rarely impress anyone.

Meanwhile, on an episode
of The Odd Couple....
Where Bleed departs from the Full Moon formula, however, is in its choice of subject matter and its sources of inspiration. This movie falls squarely in the psycho slasher sub-genre, eschewing the devil dolls, aliens, and vampires (and the occasional alien vampire devil doll) of which the old Full Moon was so fond. And while Charles Band's influences tended to include monster movies of the '60s and '70s, Bleed pulls more than a few pages from the books of Mario Bava and the like. Not that this movie should be compared favorably to anything produced by Bava, you understand, but the inspiration is fairly plain.

"Listen to Mommy; if you watch too
many gory movies you'll end
up married to Lloyd Kaufman!"
In the requisitely violent opening scene that has (almost) nothing to do with the rest of the film, a drunken man leaving a drag party is disemboweled by a killer wearing a white plastic mask. (Playing the costumed killer is the film's intern, John Treacy -- what a great internship program!) Then the Michael Myers wannabe murders the partygoer's girlfriend in a quick and pointlessly half-nude cameo by Julie Strain. The differences between Bleed and modern mainstream slasher films are immediately obvious – particularly the heightened amount of gore (Señor Drag Queen’s intestines spill onto the pavement) and the abundant nudity.
After an overly kinetic rock-n-roll credits sequence which highlights the dangers of mass-market digital editing software, we meet our main character: Maddy (the ultra-prolific Debbie Rochon), who is about to start her new job, apparently doing nothing at a company that doesn't produce anything. Maddy has a dark secret in her past. Don't worry, it has nothing to do with what follows. Her continuous flashbacks, nightmares, and internal monologues do eat up screen time though, allowing this film to reach feature length. Maddy's job was, until recently, held by Shawn (Danny Wolskey), who got the job of the man murdered in Bleed's opening minutes. Shawn and Maddy hit it off, or so we are led to believe -- after all, they are having sex two scenes after they meet.

Using this method to escape
a screening of Bleed would
probably be considered cheating.
A quick perusal of the deleted scenes included on the DVD reveal that most of the preliminary phases of their relationship were cut out of the final print. An even closer perusal of these scenes reveals that, like nearly every scene in Bleed involving the social interaction of human beings, they are incredibly awkward and boring. The movie’s main failing is that the deadly combination of a sloppy script and stiff acting leads to scene after scene of people saying things to each other that real people would never actually say, and none of them can manage to sound like they mean it.

During a particularly raunchy party (held at what we assume is a house belonging to one of the production staff), Maddy learns that Shawn and a small group of friends belong to a "murder club," the members of which enjoy engaging in armed robbery and the occasional random killing for the sheer "thrill" of it. The advantage of having a club is that the various members can provide one another with alibis. While a normal person might manufacture some excuse to depart the company of these lunatics or suggest bungee jumping as an alternative, Maddy expresses some interest and promises that she won't tell anyone. "What bothers me is that this doesn't bother me at all," she says. That's just the roofies talking, dear.

We're sure they didn't intend to
imply that the screenwriter was
dumber than a bag of hammers...
The next day Maddy gets into a minor altercation with a woman in a parking garage. It ends badly for the other combatant, whose brains ultimately decorate a concrete column. Maddy, covered in the woman's blood, goes to Shawn and demands that the murder club cover for her. (Never mind that most parking garages have cameras these days, or that half a dozen people probably saw her depart the scene drenched in bloody brain goo.) There's a slight problem with her plan, however -- the murder club doesn't exist.

It was all a joke. For some reason Shawn and his friends decided to make up a complicated story about a murder club, on the spot, as a joke. Okay, you're dating a beautiful woman. You've just introduced her to all your friends, and things have been a little tense. So you make up a story about how you and all your friends are psychopaths. We're sorry, but that isn't funny. We don't care if you think the greatest comedic achievements of mankind are Yahoo Serious' Young Einstein, Carrot Top's Chairman of the Board and MTV's Jackass, you still wouldn't think that's funny. People who think the Wayans are the Marx Brothers for the new millennium wouldn't think that's funny.

Even more bewildering: neither Shawn nor any of his friends realized that Maddy didn't know it was a joke. Guys, your first clue was that she never laughed!

"That's right, put the key light
right... about... there."
Meanwhile, the psycho in the white mask continues to kill people, presumably in the hopes of finding someone who can explain his presence in the film. What puzzled us about the murders was not the bizarre methods used by the killer (would an extension cord connected to house current really kill someone if you dropped it in their swimming pool?), but rather the way the corpses are allowed to remain where they lie. There's a lot of talk about the police in earlier parts of the film, but when the bodies start stacking up, no one exhibits even the smallest bit of common sense and actually calls them, nor is there any evidence that they are investigating the grisly series of homicides. We guess that cop costume rentals were outside the film's budget.

Without good acting or a tight script, Bleed tries to provide entertainment with lots and lots of nudity. Much of this is male nudity, which is a bit surprising. Who did the filmmakers think would be watching this film? Women perusing the video store who would pass over Bridget Jones' Diary because they saw Bleed shelved next to it? Gay men with a penchant for evisceration? Not that we're against the concept of male nudity per se, but the slasher sub-genre seems an odd place to find it. Establishing Bleed as the "equal opportunity nudity slasher film" may be the only way it will be distinguished from the crowd, so more power to its makers.

If these Hollywood hopefuls represent the future of Full Moon Studios, however, we suggest they go back and watch a few more examples of the company's original creations. Full Moon films were usually made tolerable by their outlandish concepts, from which some entertainment could be gleaned even if the scripts, acting, and effects couldn't keep up. While the premise of a murder club may be somewhat innovative in the microcosm of slasher films, it's not nearly enough to distract viewers from sub-standard filmmaking in the same way as, say, a wise-cracking 12-inch tall cop from the future.

Own it!

Review date: 03/31/2003

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