In 1933, the heart of prohibition-era regulation, a corrupt Southampton, New Jersey police department shakedown the illegal alcohol distilleries and bootleggers, forcing establishments to cough up payment for police protection. Chesterfields, the hip new brass club in the sleepy town, falls into the sights of enforcement officers, an alcoholic with post-war issues, Jack Malone and his partner Sam, who want the club owner, a ruthless black bandleader named Chester, to pay for his establishment’s booze sales and bootlegging, but Chester, and his conspicuously strange henchmen, are more than just bootlegging booze runners. The nightclub is a front for a vampire den that’s draining, bottling, and shipping the blood of Southampton residents and master vampire, Chester, operates the business with his human associate, Victor Renfield. An invasion of bloodsucking gangsters seep into the affairs of not only Jack Malone’s baffled police department, but also into the resident brothel that homes Jack’s longtime beloved lover, Rosie. Only Jack, the deranged town priest, and Willie, a boy caught in the middle, stand in between the corrupt, yet still innocent, souls of Southampton and the terrorizing dark forces that scratch at the town’s door.
Hybrid genre film “Bloodrunners” blends a spin of classic tale vampirism with early 20th-century gangsters that concocts a bad batch of cinematic bamboozlement. Filmed in West Chester and Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, director Dan Lantz, who helmed adult film star Alexis Texas in “Bloodlust Zombies,” does construct a marvelous speakeasy, prohibition-era world out of the greater Philadelphia region’s most popular and historical locations. From the period piece costuming to the acquisition of an antique 1921 Ford Model A car, Lantz’s ability to build a story around such facets on pocket-sized finances that help bring 80 years past back to the present can certainly compete with settings of many big-budgeted Hollywood productions. Being a previous recent resident of West Chester, the landscape was convincingly alien to this reviewer. Co-star Michael McFadden co-wrote the script with Lantz and, together, they input a girth of 1920s to 1930s terminology and slang into a script that can’t quite coherently string along a narrative that works under cut and dry filmmaking involving anemic mains characters.
Alongside McFadden, the “Law & Order: SVU,” or rather from one of my personal favorite films from 1994 entitled “Surviving the Game” co-starring Gary Busey and Rutger Hauer, star Ice-T takes on being a master, bootlegging vampire when he’s not busting heads of pedophiles on the streets of New York City. Ice-T maintains a hip hop persona that doesn’t translate well toward the 1930’s, but the legendary gangsta rapper has kept the hip hop schtick throughout this career and never in a hundred roles, eighty-seven credited roles to be exact, would I imagine Ice-T to break from a moneymaking image. Like his co-star, McFadden comforts himself in familiar roles that pigeonholes his career made up of authoritative figures such as cops or gangsters with examples including being a gangster in Fox’s hit television series, the Batman spinoff “Gotham” and also portraying the notorious real life gangster, Jimmy Hoffa, in the upcoming Tigre Hill film “American Zealot.” Then, there’s Philadelphia native Peter Patrikios. Patrikios’ phenomenal take on the iconic Renfield character is a break in the monotony highlight, reviving Renfield back to a sophisticated right hand man instead of a relapsing bumbling aid for his master’s whims of daylight chores and being more memorable than the “Bloodrunners'” main headliners. Airen DelaMater, Chris James Boylan, Julie Elk, Kerry McGann, Jack Hoffman, John Groody, and Dan McGlaughlin round up “Bloodrunners'” roster.
When attempting to examine “Bloondrunners'” vampiric special effects, only this descriptive phrase comes to the forefront of my mind: “Bloodrunners” pits vampire gangsters against crooked cops in a “Matrix” styled, slow-motion action-horror. While that sounds rather exciting, selling these particular creatures of the night didn’t enlighten a firm stance that the modern vampire is alive (well, technically undead) and well. Instead, the Dan Lantz and Michael McFadden story stays the routine course that fills the overstuffed and out of control vampire barrel that desperately requires genre damage control from the first moment a scofflaw vamp enters the scene. Vampire action films haven’t been popular since “Blade,” unless adapted to television as in the case of FX’s “The Strain,” and “Bloodrunners” doesn’t fit the bill, boozing in as a blasphemous contemporary day vampire film.
Paoli, PA based production company Impulse-FX delivers Dan Lantz’s latest schlock horror “Bloodrunners” with Speakeasy Films releasing the film out to the world and landing on retail shelves March 7th. The trailer held promise with vigorous action stamina, but, in the end, just turned out to be a well-edited trailer for an action-horror-thriller that needed a touch of stability in the story. Portions of the story are deemed absolutely unnecessary to motivate the characters or are place mats interjected to connect characters, such as Jack Malone’s encounter with a specific German vampire who just coincidently happens to be one of the henchmen in Ice-T’s vampire gang. The Speakeasy Films dual format 2-disc, Blu-ray and DVD combo, presents the film 1080p widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio in which the Blu-ray is on a AVC 26Mps disc. The image was a bit shaky under the compression, fizzing at times, more so during darker scenes, that outlined compression artifacts that remarked upon lighter shades of grey and black. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 track is fine through the 95 minute runtime. Jack Malone’s raspy gangster voice doesn’t become muddled and Ice-T’s epic hip hop swag comes through without even a hitch. The soundtracks fades in and out quite a bit over the LFE, during the “Matrix” slow-motion, that leaves much unbalanced when the soundtrack becomes warranted. Bonus features are nice, including a gag reel, deleted and extended scenes, filmmakers commentary, and an official trailer. In conclusion, “Bloodrunners” teeters on the edge of being a full bodied beverage that never really carbonates into a high-alcoholic contestant in being a good, modern day vampire thriller.