Monday, July 9, 2012

Cine M.I.A. #4: BLOOD NASTY (1989)

For our latest Cine M.I.A. entry, we head to the late 1980s, a time where seemingly anything could make it onto video (hello HACK-O-LANTERN!). Stores were starving for product, so chances were good for an exploitation filmmaker if you made something halfway proficient (meaning: in focus) and featured some nice exploitation elements (gore and nudity).  So that makes the case of BLOOD NASTY - a competently made horror-comedy that features Linnea Quigley in all of her glory - totally baffling as to why this has never received a U.S. video release. Thankfully, we got in touch with one of the co-directors to shed some light on this film and its situation.

BLOOD NASTY opens with two-bit criminal Roy Flowers (Todd McCammon) helping fellow hoodlums Felipe and Mona dig up the body of Luis “Blade” Orlando (Richard Rifkin).  A serial killer Satanist dubbed “The Butcher of Bogotá” (he’s so bad he gets two nicknames), Orlando has a priceless ring on his finger that they want to steal.  However, Roy isn’t too bright and receives a shovel to his head for his trouble by his double crossing partners.  They halfway bury him with Orlando and impale the two corpses with a pipe in the stomach before splitting with Roy’s plane ticket back to California.  Bad news as the plane explodes just after take off and the magic ring lands right back on Roy, bringing him back to life with part of the killer’s soul in him.  Are you still with me?

We then join the rest of Flowers clan – Mom (Catherine Grace), Sis (Allison Barron), her boyfriend Danny (Richard Gabai), and Roy’s girl Sylvia (Shannon Absher) – as they tool around their dilapidated house.  Things pick up when Barry Hefna (Troy Donahue) shows up with a check for $350,000 from a life insurance policy for Roy, since his ticket was used on the plane.  The family starts to live it up on the cash, but problems arise since Roy is now a zombie (with a 4 foot pipe in him) and he’s heading home. Even worse, Orlando’s old flame, psychic stripper Wanda (Linnea Quigley), senses his aura and seeks him out as well.  With the prodigal son back home, the family must try to keep his “living” a secret while Barry romances Mom and zombie Roy/Orlando switches back-and-forth between his personalities.

As it stands, BLOOD NASTY is neither great nor terrible.  It is just one of those standard 80s horror flicks that were a dime-a-dozen back in the day.  Running just 81 minutes, it never really has enough time to wear out its welcome and gorehounds will enjoy some of the rather graphic effects.  Also, the film was shot on location in the California suburbs (think E.T. and POLTERGEIST but with 1/20 the budget), so it really captures that era well from the clothes to those lovely angled homes.  And, of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t show the films biggest assets.

Yeah, prime (naked) Linnea Quigley is always a good reason for cinematic viewing.  And given what she has been in afterward that has gotten released, it is bizarre that this still sits on the shelf in terms of a U.S. release.  Hell, even slashers from the same era like TERROR NIGHT (1987) and CAMP FEAR (1991) eventually got released when DVD hit. Not so for BLOOD NASTY.

Co-director/co-star Richard Gabai was kind enough to answer our inquiry about this obscure little movie and gave the following answers about the film and elusive/mysterious director Robert Strauss (who went on to write the great sci-fi flick RETROACTIVE and co-producer FIRE IN THE SKY) via email.  Probably more info about BLOOD NASTY than you ever wanted to know.  Gabai has continued on in his career as both an actor and director and you can check out info on his latest directorial release INSIGHT (2011) here.

Gabai as the doomed Danny
VJ: How did you come to be involved in BLOOD NASTY?

RG: Robert Strauss hired me as an actor then as things got closer to production he asked me to help him crew up and then co-direct. (Gabai had previously helmed ASSAULT OF THE PARTY NERDS.)

VJ: Is it something you and Robert Strauss developed together?

RG: Nope, it was all him and the writer [Burford Hauser].

VJ: Was the part of Danny that you played specifically written for you?

RG: Nope.  But I had a great time playing that role.

VJ: If you can recall, when and where was the film shot?

RG: It was shot in the San Fernando Valley somewhere - maybe Northridge in 1989.

Variety production listing, May 1990:

VJ: The film has been released in Japan, Greece, Germany and other countries. Ultimately, what kept it from being released in the U.S. (at one point I see it was associated with Moviestore Entertainment as a U.S. distributor)?

RG: Yeah, I helped sell the film to my friend Joe Drake (now COO of Lionsgate) who was then at Moviestore.  I don't know why it was never released.  I think Moviestore went under or something.

Writer-Director Strauss in a cameo
VJ: Any interesting anecdotes about the film (casting, filming or reactions from folks you know who saw it)?

RG: Some of my industry friends who saw it thought it was great - one of them asked me about doing a re-make. There were good times on the set but I shall plead the 5th.

VJ: Are you still in contact with co-director Robert Strauss?

RG: Nope.  Haven't heard from him in years and years.  If you find him say hello :-)

German VHS sleeve
(courtesy Torsten Dewi):

3 Reactions:

  1. The Movie Store was one of the many labels whose assets went to Credit Lyonnais bank and are now in the MGM library. Has Gabai checked with them to see if it's sitting in their vault? Maybe it could get on their MOD DVD program.

  2. There one has been near top of my stack for awhile. Thanks for giving me a reason to give it a spin. It is surprisingly good and Linnea looks fantastic. The mother is a riot. The copy I have is terrible. I's love to see this get the MOD treatment, but I'm not gonna hold my breath.

  3. This is a pretty cool flick. I have an ultra rare Canadian VHS that I converted to a DVD-R a few weeks ago.


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