"Angels and Demons" by Mike Smith
Forgotten Horrors: Blood Massacre by ED Tucker
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|STATE OF THE NATION|
Angels And Demons And Freemasons, Oh My! .... The Chrysler Conspiracy? .... Enemy Of The State .... Revisiting The Air Force One Fly Over .... Defining The Enemy .... Greed Returns .... .... by Brandon Jones
This Wont End Well, Brett .... Nfl Wants 2 Games In London .... Tampa Gets A New Team .... Josh Freeman Will Sit This Year .... Excuse Me While I Choke, Again .... Nfl Live’s Hall-of-fame Coaches .... Clemens Speaks .... Phelps Is A Stud! by Chris Munger
Reunited And It Sounds So Good! .... Creepy And Kooky .... Still Unsinkable .... #18??? .... Passing On .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2... by Mike Smith
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Considering the troubled nature of this film’s production, a more appropriate title for this article might have been Blood Massacre Massacre. What could have been director Don Dohler’s best and most commercially viable film to date ended up as not one but two uncompleted features and nearly caused him to abandon his filmmaking career permanently. Fans of Dohler’s work, which by this point included Alien Factor, Fiend, Nightbeast, and Galaxy Invader, can sum Blood Massacre up in one word – frustrating!
The sad tale of Blood Massacre actually begins with another unlucky film, Graveyard. In 1986, following a string of features that had performed admirably on television and home video, Don Dohler was offered the financial backing to produce a new movie. This one was to be based on a script he had completed following Galaxy Invader in anticipation of further demand from that film’s distributor. Cast and crew had been assembled for Graveyard and everything was in place to begin filming when the financing fell through. Believing this to be only a temporary setback, Dohler decided to make an even lower budgeted feature to keep everyone assembled busy until the monetary issues on Graveyard were resolved.
Don Dohler was no stranger to pulling a film together quickly from scratch. Fiend had come about because his first attempt at making the film Nightbeast had to be aborted half way through production. When a new version of Nightbeast was completed a few years later and the investors did not want it sold directly to television to honor an existing contract, Galaxy Invader was hastily created to take its place. With the constraints of an extremely low budget in mind, Dohler came up with a simple plot about a robbery gone wrong that has some not so simple consequences and titled it Blood Massacre.
The main cast of the film version of Blood Massacre.
As the video was nearing about two thirds completion, something almost unprecedented happened. After seeing a rough cut of the completed footage, the investors were so impressed that they requested a budget estimate for remaking the movie from scratch on 16mm film. Dohler gladly obliged and his still low budget feature was given the green light for film. The video version of Blood Massacre was halted and, since much of the story takes place outdoors and the harsh Maryland winter was about to set in, the new production was put on hold for a few months.
Vietnam vet Rizzo and his make-shift arsenal of weapons.
Like most Don Dohler movies, the low budget did not mean there wasn’t a lot going on in the story. The final draft of Blood Massacre begins like a psycho thriller with Rizzo murdering a lounge lizard and manager who cross him at a bar. It then switches to a crime drama when he meets up with his gang and they botch a video store robbery. When their car is damaged during their escape, they are forced to procure another one by holding the driver at gunpoint and forcing her to take them back to her house. Once there, the entire family is seemingly at the mercy of the criminals while they wait for the heat to die down. At this point the film finally enters horror mode when the family turns out to be cannibals and the gang starts dropping like flies. When the final victim, Rizzo, escapes, he starts having flashback to Vietnam and we get an entertaining final act of Rambo vs. the cannibal clan!
Rizzo falls victim to the cannibals who are really zombies in the films confusing conclusion.
Grace Stahl as the beautiful psycho sister Chrissy in the film version.
The filming of Blood Massacre went smoothly since there had already been the luxury of a dry run on video. It was not until the project entered the editing phase that things started to go wrong. First Dohler discovered that the soundtrack was missing for the robbery scene that kicks off the story. With no money left for dubbing, he was forced to cut down the footage and under play what should have been a very tense early sequence. As the editing neared completion, Dohler found out that the film was being used by the investor as part of a sale package that included other properties. To facilitate the deal, he was asked to deliver the work print in its current unfinished state. The financial backer had the final say so he no choice other than to comply. He was promised the print would be returned to him for completion but Don Dohler would never see it again.
On low budget films, everyone helps out behind the camera.
Don Dohler did eventually return to filmmaking but it was only after a hiatus of close to fifteen years and in a reduced capacity. The second phase of his career, centered mainly on his new production company Timewarp Films, would last less than five years due to his untimely death from cancer in 2006. Interestingly enough, one of Don’s last projects in 2005 would be a final edit on Blood Massacre, whose rights had lapsed over the intervening years. While this edit was nothing close to what his original finished cut would have been, he was able to give the film a more finished look and at least make it a more marketable product. George Stover adds, “The DVD release is shorter and there was some smoothing out of things. When he made the cuts for the DVD release, he also cut a new trailer. He couldn’t take the scratches out because all he was working with was a VHS tape. He didn’t get access to the original materials or the work print. This was something he did on his own. He made some changes to the music and the dissolves because the work print had no transitions. He polished up the editing and tightened up a few things that gave it a shorter running time.”
Thankfully, at least some version of the film is now available to the public even if it isn’t the finished product Dohler had originally envisioned. What does make it to the screen is a tight thriller that stands as a stark departure from Dohler’s earlier creature features. To anyone familiar with his work, it is obvious that this could have been the film that propelled him to more commercial endeavors, had it been completed and marketed properly. Instead, this was a bittersweet conclusion for a man who had entertained millions of fans just like himself but at least he was able to leave his final mark on Blood Massacre.
Special thanks to George Stover for providing his insights and photos for this article. For anyone wishing to see the DVD version of Blood Massacre, it is available on the Serial Psychos collection from Pendulum Pictures and can be ordered through Amazon.Com.
"Retrorama" is ©2009 by ED Tucker. Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.