As we were setting up Echo Base and preparing for launch our first order of business was to reach out to friends in the industry and look for our first exclusive, and by some good fortune the first deal to review a film ended up being truly fun to watch. Even more amazingly, we had heard of the film already and we were excited to see it. What luck!
“Bloodsucking Bastards”, directed by Brian James O’Connell a relative new comer to the big time director scene, delivers a bold horror comedy that features an incredible cast of “Whoa it’s that guy!” moments. Let me start with the “bold” comment. I say bold because the horror comedy is not that easy to do. The great Broken Lizard, who we can’t wait to give us Super Troopers 2 by the way, even had a hard time making Club Dread work. Of course there are examples of amazing ones. I’m thinking Evil Dead (unintentionally? well certainly Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness), Dead Alive, Shaun of the Dead, and of course recently Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, but guess what, all of these movies have almost a decade between them.
Yet this movie feels refreshing in just about every way. First of all it’s a movie about vampires, that’s bold in a time where everyone is so focused on zombies and the classic horror creatures have been reduced to sparkling vampires in teen romance novels or purely digital action film creations like the Underworld series. This film, much like the other recent vampire comedy from the creators of Flight of the Conchords, What we do in the Shadows, has these guys bring a vampire flick back in a fun and different way. But more than just relying on the theme, they created a lot of their own magic. The film uses fun camera pans and zoom techniques to introduce gags. It’s writing keeps you on your toes but doesn’t rely on forced script “twists” like all the M. Night Shyamalan movies suffered from. And the setting is the dreaded florescent lit office building that most people are trapped in for most of the day. That’s brilliant because not only do they get to present us a horror comedy, but they get to make office space type jokes about the pointlessness of marketing and managing techniques. This hit close to home for me.
Back to the acting. This film is packed to the brim with people you will recognize and be excited to see. Let’s start with one I was most interested in, Pedro Pascal (seen above). You will remember Pedro from his incredible performance as Oberyn Martell in the fourth season of the HBO series “Game of Thrones”. If you haven’t seen the show maybe skip this next sentence, but if you saw it then probably just like me you were screaming your head off and weeping sorrowfully because to hell with the mountain, but I digress. After that pain wore off you were probably wondering wow, what is next for that actor? Well it’s this movie and let me just be the first to say, the guy does sleazy businessman comedy just as well as he did… well a sort of sleazy businessman on Game of Thrones. Well OK in Game of Thrones he’s arguably the good guy and here it would be much harder to argue that, but the point is you will be happy with him in this one. He made me laugh many times and he plays a kick ass vampire.
Next up we have Fran Kranz aka the stoner in Cabin in the Woods. This guy absolutely kills it in this movie. There’s a scene where he discovers a dead guy and it’s your typical over the top reaction scene but man does he deliver. When he’s explaining what he saw to his boss it’s truly fun to watch him go. Perfectly delivering mumbled speech, erratic movements, and symptoms of shock. It reminds me of the kinds of slapstick body comedy that people like Jim Carrey were delivering in the 90s. But the rest of the movie he’s got the nerdy cool thing going on. He works best when he’s with his best friend Tim played by…
OK this one is cool. I didn’t even realize it at first but Tim (on the right) is played by Joey Kern who is non other than the stoner in the opening scene of super troopers! Did I mention that Dr. God, the comedy troupe these guys are all in, are friends with Broken Lizard and worked on this project with Matthew Lillard (Hackers, SLC Punk)? I know it’s a ton of name dropping, but as I’m watching this thing I couldn’t help but keep thinking it had a super troopers meets shaun of the dead meets grandmas boy vibe, all the right signs of a team that actually work well together and help amplify each other’s jokes. Anyway back to Joey Kern, he’s really funny in this movie. There are a few times when a scene starts to get flat and it’s immediately apparent it was done on purpose to set up his character Tim to awkwardly defuse the situation. He’s the goofy stoner friend who isn’t actually stoned as far as I could tell, just lazy but very, very funny.
Next up you have FREAKING JOEL MURRAY. OK if you don’t know who he is you’re probably too young for this movie, but this is the co star of “One Crazy Summer”. After that he basically just pops up a lot in things like Scrooged and The Cable Guy and tons of TV, but this guy was a powerhouse in my youth because Better Off Dead and One Crazy Summer were on my constant rotation. Probably 2 of my favorite movies of all time. Seriously when he came on screen I screamed a little. He delivers his typical dry performance, super calm despite terrible things afoot. But the gang seemed to understand exactly how to write for him and played it up really well.
We have a ton of other relative new comers too. There’s the love interest and head of HR Emma Fitzpatrick (The Collector, The Social Network) who I love in this movie because once she figures out what’s really going on she’s a serious ass kicker. She’s referred to as “like a guy” in the movie and doesn’t stand for it one bit despite the fact that the clueless guys think it’s a compliment. It’s well played. There’s also Neil Garguilo (MTV series: Awkward) who plays a crude coworker that has a few great one liners as well. He mercilessly attacks a kid over a headset while playing video games and it’s pretty hilarious, if you play online games at all you will understand why. There are a few other cast members that give pretty stellar performances as well.
If I had to say anything negative about this movie it would be the beginning. It starts off a little unsure of how to land it’s jokes and the setup is a little off, almost too campy or awkward. But it quickly picks up. Maybe about 20-25 minutes in these guys really find their groove and deliver some fantastic laugh out loud moments.
We promised we wouldn’t give away any spoilers so I won’t tell you any of the jokes beyond posting the trailer above, but we here at Echo Base watched the movie and give it a big thumbs up and wish it a lot of success. If this is one of the first movies to make a splash for Dr. God and crew then I am really excited to see what comes next.
If you’d like to see this movie (and you should, it’s fun) it opens in select theaters and goes straight to Video on Demand September 4th. This is one i would recommend making your way to a local theater to see it if you can. You can find the showtimes and other ways to see this movie here.