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It Wants Blood! (2019) Review

Nobody can accuse writer/director James Balsamo (The Litch, Catch of the Day) of making PG-13 horror films. Within the first five minutes of It Wants Blood! A naked couple are eaten by a winged creature while having sex doggy style in politician Bruno Bastine III’s (Bill Victor Arucan, 14 Ghosts) backyard. Another politician, Senator Du Sang (Eric Roberts, Hide in the Light, Monster Island) offers his son up to be sacrificed in a voodoo ritual and political operative Phil Blunt (James Balsamo) is getting choked out during sex.

There are two things you can infer from this. The first is if you’re easily offended you can skip It Wants Blood! and save yourself from a lot of offence. The second is that Balsamo has found a way to make American politics an even bigger freak show than it already is. Is this freak show worth the price of admission? Or should you vote with your wallet and rent something else?

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Bastine and Du Sang are vying for the same seat in Congress, and both are willing to stop at nothing to win. To that end, Bastine keeps that winged creature around to make sure guests at his fundraisers give generously. Du Sang in turn called on the power of voodoo to give him a creature of his own. Somewhere in the middle of all of this is Phil, who’s been hired to get the dirt on both of them.

That’s basically as much of a plot as this film has. It Wants Blood! is more of a collection of scenes parodying politics and all the sleaze and scandals that go with it than a narrative film. It also takes every opportunity it can to toss in some full-frontal nudity. While I’m not one to complain about that, there’s a nude wrestling scene here that goes on way too long.

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In fact, at an hour and forty-five minutes, the film as a whole goes on way too long. That’s due, in part, to the huge number of cameos Balsamo has stuffed into the film. Former wrestler Amy “Lita” Dumas plays Bastine’s wife. Brinke Stevens (Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity, Apex Predators) plays Phil’s therapist. Steve Railsback (Plaguers, Lifeforce) is Du Sang’s brother. There are also appearances from Felissa Rose (Cold Blooded Killers, Bearry), Eileen Dietz (The Exorcist, 100 Acres of Hell), Elissa Dowling (Clown Fear, Girl on the Third Floor) and several more familiar faces from the Southern California indie horror scene.

Granted, many of them show up briefly and then become monster chow, but it all adds up. And the scenes are of very variable quality. There are some funny gags, but there are as many that fall flat and should have been cut out at the script stage.

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The monsters, when we see them, are fairly well done for such a low-budget film. Realized with a mix of somewhat crude stop-motion and puppetry, they’re distinctly different looking. Du Sang’s creature, Notodo, looks kind of like an elephant with a vertically running mouth and a second head at the end of its trunk. Bastine’s beast Zawazo is some kind of dragon with a troll’s head. Most of the gore is of the blood splash variety, but there is an impressive scene where Notodo’s trunk impales, or maybe chews its way, through someone. The inevitable fight between It Wants Blood!’s two beasts however is less impressive.

It Wants Blood! is fitfully amusing, and probably would have seemed even funnier under the influence. But I wasn’t, and it felt overlong by at least fifteen minutes and not nearly as funny as it could have been. You can adjust my rating up or down depending on how likely you are to be stoned while watching it.

It Wants Blood! is currently available to stream via Vimeo on Demand. You can check the film’s Facebook page for announcements of other platforms.

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