Jul 212017
 

Blood Drive has had an amazing first couple of episodes.  They have had a streak of great action, great world building and greater character development. Sadly, all streaks must end and episode four gets a bad case of the “Are you fucking kidding me?”

In this episode of Blood Drive, the Heroes sneak away from the race to go to where Grace’s sister is being held in an asylum. Slink is not amused so he sends Rib Bone to go kill them. Also during this episode, we get flashbacks to Grace and her sister before the events of Blood Drive as well as even more torture scenes with Tortured Cop and Hot Robot Woman.

Now if you have ever read, watched or heard of fiction involving an asylum, then you know that there is a 90% that any asylum is being run by the inmates who have seized control. Blood Drive maintains that by having the crazy people in charge. What is bizarre to me, is that Grace and Barbie are completely obvious to this until it is too late. Barbie especially suffers from a case of near-terminal stupidity in this episode. Honestly, I wonder if the writer was new to the show or this was an early episode because Barbie is just about too stupid to live where as in previous episodes, he was Naive-But-Tough.

Rib Bone on the other hand, walks in and instantly asks the first person he sees how long ago did the crazy people take over. Go Rib Bone! I mean seriously, Rib Bone catching on was so damn entertaining that I almost forgive the stupidity of Grace and Barbie.

Sadly, the two other plots are not very good. Tortured Cop gets really put through the wringer in this episode. O-M-G was it rough. The bright light was when Hot Robot Woman took off her dress to reveal nipple-less breasts like a doll. That was a nice touch but man, you got a lot of torture to go through to get there. I will admit, I had a pretty good laugh when Robot Woman offered to collect his seed with the plunger or the hand. Poor Tortured Cop. It never works out for him.

As bad as the torture was, the flashback was worse. Grace and sister Karma get into a nightclub so Grace can get a job with the Blood Drive. They need money and Grace is trying to support her sister. Along the way, Karma overdoses on some drugs and gets committed. At the end we get more backstory where we find that Slink offers Grace a blood-sucking engine and a spot in the race to pay for Karma’s treatment. We also discover that Slink probably hooked karma on the drugs. Diabolical!

Yet, also dull. Grace trying to get the attention of a previous Blood Drive winner by acting slutty isn’t compelling to watch.  Also, she is a bad sister.

There are some highlights to this episode. The primary reason the crazies are crazy is that they are hooked on a synthetic sugar made by Heart Industries. When poor Rib Bone gets covered in the stuff, the inmates literally eat him alive. Barbie finds a nurse who teaches him how to act crazy to blend in and that’s cool. Grace had an awesome fight with an inmate that almost offsets the awful flashback.  We get a hint that Slink used to work at the asylum fifty years ago and doesn’t appeared to have aged. Wha? The plot thickens.

But sadly, we lose Rib Bone. Damn, I would almost rather lose Barbie. At least Rib Bone gets an awesome tribute in the end and who knows, maybe he will come back as a cyborg?

All in all, not the best episode of Blood Drive but it is still my favorite show on television right now.

Jul 142017
 

The third episode of Blood Drive keeps the streak of great episodes going. In this episode, the Heroes must stop at a town that used to make cars but went mysteriously silent after a strange event. The city is filled with crazy cultist survivors and the horrible light-adverse mutants who now run the city.

First of all, hats off for naming the deadly mutating gas, Trioxin. I knew it sounded familiar and I got a big kick out of finding out it is the name of the gas from the Return of the Living Dead series. If you never heard of it, you won’t notice it.  That is the kind of Easter Egg I like as oppossed to the average comic book movie/series that does a dramatic pause when they make an Easter Egg. It is the kind of pause that makes me go, “Okay, you want that to mean something but all it means I now have to look on Wikipedia.” Folks, don’t do those kinds of Easter Eggs.

This episode gives us the subplot of the failing marriage of racers and full on psychopaths, Domi and Cliff. It is nice to know that even killers who murder for fun can have periods of no sex in their relationship. By the end of the episode, they get their groove back in a gory fashion. The storyline was cute but in a way I feel like we have exhausted their potential now. They can die now.

Speaking of dying now, Tortured Cop continues to get abused by Hot Robot. Holy shit, I can’t imagine being a writer for this show and having to do three episodes worth of torture banter. My wife is burned out on it and quite frankly, I am just ready for these two to move on. I like both of the characters and would like to see them do something different.

Which brings us to my favorite part of the show, we see Julian slink meet with executives who have show notes for his illegal murder race. The Blood Race is broadcast to rich fucks and corporate elite but the company wants to go mainstream. Julian is against it but like last episode, he is just helpless middle management.

The show notes were great. Quite a few of them were meta as Julian answered with asking for a bigger budget. Other show notes foreshadowed scenes and character time. I thought the whole thing was brilliant and I am quite jealous of the creativity.

There is a lot more that I am neglecting to cover, which is a good sign of how good the show is. I am constantly impressed with how much work goes into even minor characters.

Sadly, this episode sees the death of Clown Dick. I am greatly depressed that we never got an evil clown episode.

Jul 122017
 

Episode Two of the insane series Blood Drive evolves into a different beast from the pilot episode. We are given a history lesson that fills in a lot of what has happened to America. We are given multiple separate storylines with the Heroes bonding, Julian Slink at an employee evaluation, The Gentleman and the Scholar’s relationship problems, Tortured Cop’s ordeal AND a small peek at the villains of this episode, the Cannibal Diner Crew. A shit-ton is going on and yet no plot line feels lost or tacked on.

In fact, there is much going on that it is impossible to discuss a lot of it without doing a blow-by-blow of what happened. Instead of that, I just want to touch on them briefly.

First of all, the Orientation video for Tortured Cop explains that fracking caused a giant earthquake rift to open up in America. A company named Heart explored the ‘Scar’ and found “new minerals, morally questionable fuel alternatives, unnatural gases and deep wells of unidentifiable glowing goo.”  From this, Heart was able to become the most powerful company in the world.

The “morally questionable fuel alternatives” has to be those shredder car engines that run on blood. How do you find car engines that run on blood in a hole in the ground? My guess is that the Scar goes straight to Hell. It would certainly explain why the engines look like they were designed by Pinhead from Hellraiser.

That is my best guess. The answer I am hoping it will be is that the Scar opens into the Hollow Earth filled with sadistic Dero.

The second thing of note I want to focus on is the arc of Julian Slink. He runs the Blood Drive and in the first episode, he comes across as the Chief Villain of this evil race. In this episode we see him go to his bosses, at Heart, and sit for hours in the lobby. He is being put in his place and he knows it. This person who have come to know as the tormentor and villain is literally middle management in a bigger enterprise. not only that, but we see him suffer and go through insecurity. This transforms him from a villain into another victim.  The fact that he murders someone he perceives as his competition just includes us in his struggles.

This is quite unexpectedted and I applaud it.  Julian Slink is a charismatic character and I hope we see more of him.

Speaking of unexpected, Rib Bone, the main thug in the first episode, stops a huge brawl to find out who locked their dog in a truck with the windows rolled up. He wants to know so he can rescue the dog and kill the former owner. This promotes Rib Bone straight from Forgetful Thug to Monster-With-A-Heart. That is a clever and delightful surprise. Go Rib Bone! I hope he sticks around forever.

Which brings us to the couple who gets as almost as much screen time as our heroes. The Gentleman and the Scholar have an unhealthy relationship of abuse, homosexual sex and humiliation. Most other fiction in the ‘Grindhouse’ genre would have used the genre as an excuse for homophobia. They would have played up their homosexuality as a campy thing or something that is gross, but Blood Drive manages to treat it as just another bad relationship without getting offensive. Heck, the Scholar becomes a genuine sympathetic character. There is show of affection near the end that will warm your heart if you forget these guys kill folks for fuel.

Speaking of the Heroes. I don’t think I said much last time but the dynamic between these two is good. Grace is certainly the brains and maybe the muscle while Barbie is the heart and and more muscle. Can I say how much I love that the pretty guy is the one who gets stuck with the nickname, Barbie? That rocks. Barbie is a bit too naive for a cop but I am sure that he will get that beaten out of him.

Meanwhile, Tortured Cop keeps getting seduced and tortured by Evil Robot Lady. I enjoy their exchanges, especially as Evil Robot Lady is a quirky looking brunette instead of a statuesque blonde like something from Battlestar Galactica. It is a shame that the one prominent black character spends most of his time in bondage getting abused but I am sure he will have a thrilling arc later when he is turned into a Cyborg Hunter of some sort.

Last we have the killers. I am not a big fan of Cannibals in fiction. One of my problems is that movie cannibals are always filthy and disgusting. How are you supposed to catch anyone if your place looks like a sewer? I was pleasantly surprised to see these cannibals keep a tidy place and hygiene becomes a running theme. As someone who has worked in restaurants, it made my soul feel good to see someone die from not mopping enough.

All in all, this was the episode that really hooked me into the series. The explanation of the Scar does a lot of heavy lifting for the universe, while quite a few potentially shallow characters like Julian and Rib Bone were made into elevated into something special. So far the show appears to really aspire to be something interesting as opposed to just throwing gore on the screen.

RIP Fat Elvis. We never got to know you but then again, I guess being called Fat Elvis and dressing like the King is all we need to know.

 

 

Jul 032017
 

Blood Drive is a television series on the SyFy channel. It is set in the far dystopian future of 1999 where everything has turned to shit and gas is now 1000$ a gallon. There are food shortages, gas shortages and a helluva morality shortage but one thing there is not a shortage of is blood because every time someone dies, there is a geyser of that stuff.

The plot of the first episode is that a super hot goody two-shoes male cop is forced to team up with a super hot not-so-good female driver in a deadly race across country where all of the cars run on blood instead of gasoline. It is an illegal race run by Julian Slink for a group of lowlifes that also seem to crop up in apocalypses. The prize is ten million dollars but at the end of every day, the last person to cross the finish line gets their heads blown off by bombs implanted in their heads. Carnage and hilarity ensues.

It is an interesting show. When Rodriguez and Tarantino did their Grindhouse Double Feature, I thought they were ushering in a new wave of genre movies. I thought that as an audience, we were smart enough and at the same time, hungry for a sort of pseduo-grindhouse style where we embrace the crazy spectacle and mock the stupidity of the genre while still creating material that would fit in the genre. It was a big inspiration for my own novel, Pusse’ and Cox and I patiently waited for the rest of the world to do the same. Other than Hobo with a Shotgun, and a few other movies, it didn’t really happen. The closest we got was Jack Shear’s excellent Planet Terror, the RPG.

Now here we are, ten years later and we have one of the true inheritors of Rodriquez and Tarantino’s vision. The plot is stupid but gloriously entertaining. The references to previous genre movies are as endless as they were in Planet Terror or Death Proof. The characters are ridiculously hot and instead of indulging in will-they or won’t-they, the two main characters fuck in the first episode to save their lives. This is a show that knows what their audience wants and it gives it to them in bucket loads of blood, gore and sex.

Having said that, I had a small problem with the show. The cars need blood to drive so all of the racers are looking for victims to kill. At one point, a car full of smiling cheerleaders gets hijacked. It was disconcerting as a viewer to watch the cheerleaders tied up, crying and screaming. The cop stops it but you know, I was taken a bit out of the show. Up until this point, with the exception of the cop, we had seen only really nasty people in a nasty world. Even the cop’s police force maintains a quota of teeth that they beat out of citizens.  It is easier to accept gore and violence when you accept that everyone is a piece of shit anyway and probably deserve what they get. The cheerleaders break that concept and get me distracted thinking about to really deserves to get fed into a hungry engine rather than sitting back and enjoying the violence.

Funny enough, I am three episodes in and a similar situation has yet to happen again. I hope the show runners learned from that.

Stray thoughts,

ContraCrime, the police force owned by a corporation has as their motto, “We kill because we care.” Fuck, that is pretty much our police in the real world, isn’t it?

Julian Slink runs the race and I didn’t say much about him because you really have to see him to appreciate how awesome he is. He has the pacing of a DJ, the humor of a horror host and the menace of a promotion broker who really just wants to make some money this time.  he is played by the amazing Colin Cummingham and he is a delight in every scene.

How weird is this world? We got engines that look like something out of Hellraiser drinking blood, androids posing as people, a Murderous Clown driver, cops who carry computers that instantly assess crime penalties and pulse bombs in the back of your necks.

Did I mention how ridiculously sexy everyone is? Christ, even the male cop is supernaturally sexy.