Directed by Onur Tukel, Starring: Onur Tukel, Anna Margaret Hollyman, Dakota Goldhor, Vanna Pilgrim, Melodie Sisk, Juliette Fairley. Comedy/Horror, US 2014, 86mins, cert 18.
Released in the UK on Blu-ray and DVD on 23rd February 2015 by Monster Pictures.
Having turned down far-too-good-for-him girlfriend Jody’s marriage proposal, commitment phobic Eric Sparrow (Onur Tukel) then promptly loses her to an old college flame. Realising too late that she was the best thing to ever happen to him, he unsuccessfully tries to win her back before turning to online dating and a series of disastrous encounters ensue. On the verge of being fired from his office job, his attempts to woo his office co-worker (whose photo he masturbates to in the toilet) seem to be getting him nowhere also, he takes a late-night stroll down by the Brooklyn Bridge where he finds a man with a gushing neck wound. As the man bleeds to death in front of him, Sparrow is so self-absorbed his assistance amounts to little more than offering his ex-girlfriend’s spare tampon to stem the blood. Returning to the same spot the next night and with his life at an all-time low, (we know this because he passes a road sign which reads ‘dead end’ – geddit?), he meets a vampire who (consentingly) bites him. Instantly transformed into a sex-god (albeit one with fangs and weird eyes) he is also bestowed the gift of persuasive hypnosis (handy when the landlord comes knocking for the unpaid rent) – but will it allow him to win back Jody?
Writer/director/co-producer and star Onur Tukel is clearly trying to channel Woody Allen with his talky indie-art house flick, and whilst it isn’t nearly as insightful and witty as it tries to be, Tukel’s Turkish vampire in Brooklyn by way of ANNIE HALL tale is reasonably entertaining – in spite of the central character. I say in spite of because Tukel’s Eric Sparrow is not someone you can easily root for. Instantly dislikeable on every level, it’s hard to fathom quite why girlfriend Jody (Anna Margaret Hollyman) not only stuck with Eric for three whole years, but also unfathomably entertained the notion of marriage and a family with him. It certainly wasn’t for the sex: “Do you know how I keep dry when it’s hot and humid outside? I think of you.”(Ouch).
This exchange sums up one of the film’s essential weaknesses. The dialogue is often snappy, pithy and smart – but it rarely rings true in terms of what real people would actually say; no matter how clever it might read on the page. And for a dialogue-driven film, this at times becomes a real pain in the neck (sorry).
Sparrow’s transformation into a hypnotic undead love-machine (albeit one whose love-bites are a bit messy) is an embarrassing self-indulgent male fantasy, but he does eventually attempt to grapple with the morality of his blood-lust and seek some kind of redemption.
The neck biting (with traditional pinchers) serves up bloody arterial sprays and gory gloop, and there’s more than a sprinkling of vampiric bonking with Sparrow’s three ‘brides’ before they collectively decide to follow their (non-beating) hearts to find their true loves. Sparrow in turn follows suit to try to win back Jody (a task now made easier following the after-effects of having taken a bite out of her chiselled-jawed lover’s ankle). But can he commit when faced with the prospect of immortality?
Unlike Woody Allen, Turkel doesn’t set out to romanticise the city that never sleeps, so we get a grubby tungsten-stained yellow palette in place of Gordon Willis’ gorgeous monochrome cinematography. The sickly humid visuals complement the sweat-stained loose-fitting shirts of the lead protagonist – shirts that become increasingly blood-stained during the film – a fact which goes almost unnoticed by the blasé neurotic-obsessed inhabitants New Yorkers.
It’s neither MARTIN nor MANHATTAN (nor MIDNIGHT SON for that matter), but at least it’s the dialogue that occasionally sparkles in SUMMER OF BLOOD rather than the vampires.
Extras: Commentary, behind the scenes, trailer, deleted scenes.
***(out of 5*)
***(out of 5*)
(Originally published on FRIGHTFEST)