Color, 2010, 81m.
Directed by Bob Freville
Starring Kevin Petroff, Pamela Price, Steve Dash, Jake McGee, Duane Bazazian
Troma (DVD) (US R0 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9) / DD2.0
The continuing popularity of vampire movies has meant we've had our share of vampire love stories and vampire-as-jukie stories, so it was inevitable that someone would wind up combining the two. Enter Hemo, a very low budget, very bloody offering about Felicia (Price), who's first seen on crutches, and Calvin (Petroff), a Long Island couple whose relentless addiction to blood has them pilfering sustenance from the local blood bank. Unfortunately their food supply starts to dry up when the blood banks clamp down on their security measures, putting the couple's aversion to violence to the test as they go cold turkey and start to contemplate doing the unthinkable.
Despite its appearance on the Troma label and an abundance of both bare skin and the red stuff, Hemo definitely aims more for a strange art film vibe than a down and dirty exploitation film. At least here we don't have any sympathetic abstaining vampires pining over their human soulmates like most current bloodsucker tales; instead they're kind of pathetic but compelling predators (or maybe just deeply crazy people) about to fall off the wagon in the goriest way possible. Along the way you get some pretty ambitious hallucination scenes, steering this more in the direction of meditative films like Ganja and Hess or The Addiction.
On the downside, it's shot on pretty lousy video equipment and really could use some more visual polish. The DIY digital video vibe can work for some films, but here you just keep wishing the filmmakers had access to better equipment so the darker scenes didn't keep turning to mud. Fortunately if you stick with it you'll be rewarded with some solid ambience and good performances from the leads, with Price in particular anchoring the film as a magnetic, complicated character skidding downhill very quickly.
Troma's DVD contains the usual Tromantic extras filler (including the obligatory Lloyd Kaufman intro, that refrigerator box thing again, and trailers for Mr. Bricks, Father's Day, The Taint, and Def by Temptation), but the filmmakers have also provided enough extras to keep things on topic. First up is a 22-minute featurette, "When We Got Thirsty," culled from behind-the-scenes footage, which is much sillier than the main feature and contains some pretty odd padding (like the cast and crew feeding ducks and eating fast food). The original trailer comes next, followed by director Bob Freville's previous short, "Of Bitches & Hounds" from 2007. Actually calling it a short seems odd since it actually runs 49 minutes and almost qualifies as a movie, but in any case, it's the story of a woman who wants a pet and the guy (McGee, who also appears in Hemo) who becomes her dog and spends all his time running around on the ground in his underwear. It's strange, arty, and a little bloody, and be sure to stick around for the end credits for crew members like "Flimsy Tipsy Grabpants," "The Jewish Leprechaun" (that's the location scout), and lighting by "Careless Jerkoff." Hey, you can't make this stuff up! There's also a 22-minute featurette covering the Ohio shoot for the short film, including tangents like trying to find a real dead rodent for one crucial scene. No one ever said art was easy!