To many of us, Don Dohler is a name associated with one of two things. Enjoyably cheesy science fiction films like The Alien Factor and the bible for budding filmmakers, Cinemagic Magazine. But he also had a hand in full-blown horror films like Harvesters, Dead Hunt, and tonight’s film, Blood Massacre.
Rizzo (George Stover, Wrestlemassacre, What Happens Next Will Scare You) is a dangerous man. We know this because in the opening minutes of Blood Massacre we see him strangling a bouncer with his car’s seat belt and taking a switchblade to a hooker. Even worse he’s the head of a gang made up of Monica (Lisa DeFuso), Jimmy (James DiAngelo), and Pauly (Thomas Humes, The Game).
After their latest job goes wrong, leaving a cashier dead and the gang with a mere seven hundred and twenty dollars take they carjack Liz Parker (Robin London) and end up taking her family hostage. Or so they think. because the Parkers have some habits that would make them more at home in Texas than in Maryland.
The film itself has an interesting backstory. Dohler was about three-quarters of the way through shooting Blood Massacre as an SOV film when his backers decided it should be shot on film instead. He reshot it only to have it taken from him during the editing and the film was released in an unfinished state. That state of affairs depressed him so badly that it would be ten years before he did another film.
So, how did Blood Massacre turn out? That’s not an easy question to answer.
As I noted when I reviewed the somewhat similar Hideout, this is a well-used plot in several genres. Dohler and co-writers Barry Gold and Dan Buehl manage to work several of them into Blood Massacre. It starts as a slasher, becomes a crime film, a hostage thriller, and then a cannibal film before taking a final twist into supernatural horror in the last few minutes.
I have no idea why Don had that ending with the zombies. It didn’t make much sense and it wasn’t in the version shot on video. Maybe he was being pressured by the investors to add more horror elements to the film. They might have thought that the zombies would make it more marketableGeorge Stover
It’s also never dull, Rizzo sees to that. He’s constantly starting shit with somebody, including the other gang members. And he also has a weird knife/blood play sex scene with Liz that is creepy as hell. So even if there isn’t actually a lot of blood in the first hour of Blood Massacre there is plenty of fighting. It helps that Stover, the only professional actor in the film, is obviously having a blast playing such an unhinged character.
When we do get to the blood, it’s all practical and looks good for its time and budget. Impaling, decapitation even a couple of transformation scenes all figure into it. The last half hour of Blood Massacre lives up to its title.
On the other hand, it was shot cheaply and it looks like it, a lot more so than Dohler’s other films. Whether that was because it was shot on poor quality 16mm film or because it was mastered from a workprint after the negative was damaged I don’t know.
There are also some strange plot choices such as the awkwardly inserted scene where Liz demands to take a shower. It comes out of nowhere and feels like an excuse to show some skin. And we do see her with an ecstatic look on her face then the camera cuts to her rubbing her wet, soapy, stomach. One for belly button fetishists I guess.
If you’re looking for a conventional horror film of its time, Blood Massacre probably won’t be what you’re looking for. But if you were hunting the back rows of the horror section of your local video store looking for stuff nobody else had even heard of then you’ll have fun with Blood Massacre.