Blood Reaper 2004 Review
Blood Reaper 2004
Directed by: Lory-Michael Ringuette
Starring: Bobby Mackey, Cameron McHarg, Alison Moon
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
A massive part of my youth was spent hunting out slasher flicks in video rental stores across the UK and Spain. My mother/friends and I used to take bus and train rides across cities and I would seek out backstreet ‘mom and pop’ video shops looking through the horror sections and then negotiating a fee for the release to take any slasher trash with me. I clearly remember reading through countless covers on the way home wondering if I had found another Halloween. However the films were rarely as good as I hoped and the best fun to be had was in the hunt.
After the 1996 rebirth, the task became a lot easier as store chains such as Blockbuster would supply a large number of features from low-key distributors as well as the biggest box office draws to hit the rental market. Companies like Film 2000 and Hollywood DVD would unleash slasher upon slasher, picked up for a minimal fee and packaged as the next Scream to unsuspecting audiences.
Thanks to conversations with slasher directors such as Steve Jarvis and Jason Collum, I have learned that most DTV movies are only stop gaps anyway. They are generally picked up or put together by companies who want to package a number of titles and flog them to European/Asian markets, where Western movies are easier to shift. I’ll give you a brief description of the most common methodology and how it works. A US exporter will take one mid-budget feature with a relatively known actor – let’s say for example Extramarital with Traci Lords and Jeff Fahey. They will then offer it outside the US (especially places like Japan) as a bulk deal with a few other flicks that have been developed on shoe-string financing. These titles are the likes of Camp Blood, Paranoid and unsurprisingly Blood Reaper. That’s why there are so many of these released and some even make an ok-ish profit if their distributors are honest with them. The days of self-financing and walking around hat in hand to try and get a print sold are becoming rarer as there’s a market for almost everything and making a film is easier than it once was. I often get asked about Cards of Death, which was released by Sony in Japan on VHS in the eighties, but never got a chance anywhere else. Even though it was shot in the US in 1986 and ticks the boxes of most other SOV pictures of that year it has become mega obscure and your chances of hunting out are pretty much zero. Why? Well it’s simply because it’s rubbish and no one believed in it enough for it to be given shelf space in English speaking countries, so instead it was packed up with a few bigger titles and shipped out to Asia.
Blood Reaper was directed by Lory-Michael Ringuette who was also behind the relatively enjoyable tongue in cheek romp Tele-Zombie from 2004. I can’t shake the belief that low-grade slashers are created by fans of the genre that have the means to achieve something that poor London kids like myself can only dream of – make their own movie. That’s not always the case though and as I mentioned earlier, some of this things are made simply as a moveable unit. Here though, Blood Reaper does seem like a tribute of kind to Friday the 13th and there’s no harm in that.
A group of youngsters head in to the forest for a nice relaxing break, however on arrival they are warned of the legend of a killer who strikes whenever there’s a full moon. Before you can say, ‘I knew it’, a gas-masked villain turns up with his trusty blade…
So we all know (or you should by now) that DTV slashers nowadays are usually as well-made as a cup of tea mixed with cranberry juice. But for every one hundred Psycho Wards, the law of average means there must be a Fright Flick somewhere, right? I tend to look at each example with an open mind, because if not this review would be just one line and that wouldn’t attract many readers. Blood Reaper may not be much of a movie, but it does at least do a few things right.
Firstly, the score from T Reed is absolutely brilliant and the sound bites are in general extremely effective. There’s a mishmash of ideas, from the killer’s heartbeat to the buzzing of wildlife throughout the forest location. It all builds up a neat horror environment and there’s some cheap, tacky but fun gore effects including a brilliant decapitation and another that you can see in the clip above. Ringuette tries a few adventurous shots, which include some underwater photography and the odd sequence that had been well thought out.
Unfortunately, these few pluses don’t cover up the fact that Reaper commits the worst of all cinematic crimes and that’s boredom. The pace here flows like a Spanish village in the summer at 3pm and a lack of fluidity from the director means that the efficient musical accompaniment doesn’t build any suspense. It also has moments of complete stupidity that are obvious signs of amateurism. We don’t really get any such background on the killer’s motives and various characters/scenes never get an explanation. Whilst I am at it, what the hell was with the guy who turned up only to sing an awful country oddity only to disappear straight after? It’s very funny in an unintentional way, but I’d love to know the thought process behind its inclusion?
Continuity in a slasher movie is never worthy of a magnifying glass, but Blood Reaper feels like it was shot, edited by a gibbon and then just given straight to the distributors without it even being checked. This may sound implausible, but believe me when you are watching a maniac struggling to get at two people that are hiding behind a wall that he could easily walk around, you begin to lose hope. Chuck in the usual amount of piss-poor dramatics, non-developed characters and grainy picture quality and you have nothing here but a waste of the £2 you’ll pay to rent it.
Imagine yourself going to the theatre. It starts with a colorful dance sequence with beautiful players and great music. But then as the show begins, everyone forgets their lines and the props fall apart. That’s what level you will get with Reaper, which is no less and no more than a rush-released, uninspired mess. Apparently, director Ringuette is a down to earth and really nice guy. But even if that’s the case, I have been to funerals that have had better pacing than this film.
At last check, there are 4 copies of this available on the UK Amazon and 3 in the US. That means that there were quite a few produced and put on to the market, so in many ways this was by no means an unsuccessful or risky pick-up by the low-grade labels. Luckily, I’m old enough to know now that funky back-cover blurbs guarantee nothing and thanks to sites like a SLASH above, you can always check before you buy. If you pick up this one from the bottom shelf, do yourself a favour. Put it straight back…
Final Girl: √