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Bad Blood

International Premiere
  • USA
  • 2016
  • 83 mins
  • DCP
  • English
Winner: Audience Award, Best Feature, Chattanooga Film Festival 2016

What could have possibly caused Dr. Mark Beltran, esteemed scientist, to become a homicidal maniac? How could he have escaped from a maximum-security prison on the night of a full moon? What’s going on in the basement of the local Texaco station? And what’s up with that weird guy behind the counter? About to find out the answers to these questions is Victoria, an innocent college student home on break who encounters the doctor in the dark of night on an innocent stop for gas. Although it isn’t the good doctor she encounters, per se, and if by “encounters” you mean, “is torn to pieces by”, then that’s much more accurate. With no body found or signs of Victoria in the weeks that pass, her family hires private detective Paul Stenland, whose unorthodox methods may not gain confidence, but they yield results: Not only does he find Victoria alive, but he also uncovers the mysterious link to the gas-station attendant and Dr. Mark Beltran. Let’s just hope for his sake he doesn’t figure out what’s the deal with all those frogs in the station’s makeshift basement laboratory…

Posing absolutely no connection whatsoever to the hit songs by Taylor Swift, Neil Sedaka or The Coasters, BAD BLOOD does have slightly more of a connection with THE DEMON’S ROOK, the Atlanta-shot gorefest from Fantasia 2013. Directed by Tim Reis, that film’s producer and editor (not to mention Fantasia 2014 short GOAT WITCH), and boasting stellar makeup FX from ROOK director James Sizemore, it’s also another superior example of the growing Atlanta horror scene, one buoyed by a wealth of new talent, the local production of THE WALKING DEAD and generous tax incentives. Unlike Sizemore’s memorable piece of swampadelic surrealism, BAD BLOOD is an old-fashioned creature feature. Not afraid to get his hands (or cast) bloody, Reis offers a welcome throwback to monster movies of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, tailored with a quick wit, a distinct personality and some terrific makeup FX that are sure to please. A good time is guaranteed for all, except for those who suffer from an irrational fear of frogs (you know who you are) and fun. For the rest of us, BAD BLOOD is very good indeed.

— Matthew Kiernan