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Movie Review: Blood Ties (1991)

This failed TV pilot was later remade as ‘Kindred: The Embraced’. But it has a certain charm amidst the hokum. In rural Texas the SCAV kill a couple with stakes. Their son Cody (Jason London) escapes. The SCAV track him as he runs to Long Beach to his extended kinfolk. The head SCAV guy has a weird Amish beard, Cody has a blood-amber amulet of Lilith and the sinister synthesiser theme music is good.

Reporter Harry Martin (Harley Venton) chain smokes; it is addiction displacement as we later learn. He looks good despite sucking on nicotine in the middle of the workplace at the Long Beach Post-Gazette. He shows up at the courthouse where his distant cousin Butcherbird Vlad (no really) is acquitted of various forms of GBH. Butcherbird and his Shrike biker gang are an obvious and unsubtle Lost Boys rip-off. Butcherbird cannot act to save his life. Harry flirts unsubtly with the prosecutor Amy. She is attracted to him despite his ashtray breath and family links to Butcherbird Vlad and sinister man Eli Chelarin (Patrick Bauchau). She agrees to attend a family party with him.

Eli and Harry stand around in their baggy clothes having an unsubtle exposition filled conversation. They are related but how is never made clear. The boring Cody shows up and runs into Butcherbird. He likes the Shrikes and their 80s clothes. Robia LaMorte of ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ dances around in the background as one of the Shrikes. Amy and Harry attend Eli’s party. Eli’s half sister Celia (Michelle Johnson) slinks around making it clear she is doing Harry and Eli too probably.

Harry drops more exposition on Amy. He and his kin are Carpathian-Americans. Oh and his real name is Harlovan Martinescu. Cody shows up at the party and the menfolk sit around to discuss him and the SCAV. The womenfolk of whom there aren’t that many don’t seem to do anything. Via yet more exposition it all comes out, the SCAV are vampire hunters and the Carpathian clan are all vampires. The family of apex predators are also sex gods apparently as Amy really really wants to shag Harry.

Cody gets way too much prominence as he walks around in tight underpants and learns what he and his family are. Celia climbs up the wall of Harry’s apartment building like Dracula so she can shag him. The Carpathians like keeping it in the family apparently. During sex he bites her, but she doesn’t bite him. Harry is a hypocrite. The SCAV are murdering vampires all over the country apparently. Harry does yet more exposition as he reveals the word vampire is an ugly slur.

The SCAV appear on a talk show, SCAV stands for Southern Coalition Against Vampirism. One of the SCAV is Grace Zabriskie of ‘Twin Peaks’ and she gets to overact wonderfully as a vampire hating crackpot. Cody sees this show and overacts badly in response. This wasn’t profound, it was hokum and the madly mismeasured Cody/Shrike scenes didn’t help.

Amy is beguiled by Harry but she does notice the sheer strangeness of him and his clan. The unattractive Cody is awkward, difficult and makes moronic decisions. The plot veers into mild absurdity as the SCAV drag the infuriatingly vulgar Celia off in a fishing net. There is no philosophical breadth or spiritual depth here. Harry is graceless despite his wise old sage exposition. The rotter Eli is hostile, forbidding, uncooperative and absurdly isolationist. Butcherbird is fatalistic and finds humanity a terrible inconvenience.

The SCAV and the vampires are to fight another battle in their 100 generation feud. But first Eli gets to scream at Harry about how he saw Harry’s mark on Celia’s neck. How did he recognise it? Harry is not reticent about the unpleasantness to come. The SCAV do a drab and silly burning at the stake attempt on Celia in the eventfulness free climax. The only thing Celia does is pop off the buttons on her shirt. Why do the Carpathian women have no agency? The SCAV and vampires fight, Harry rescues Celia. The fight between crackpots and apex predators ends as you would expect. Afterward Harry heads back to Amy who seems to know what he is and she kind of likes it. This wasn’t complex or nuanced but it was fun hokum in places. It could have been an interesting TV show. One question remains: where did Harley Venton vanish to after this?

Best Lines:
“There are people living in those hovels Eli, what about them?”
“Oh they’ll find new hovels.”

“Get a job playing a piano in a whorehouse.”

“It’s starting again.”

“They say she had a husband once but she ate him.”

“We have a taste for the melodramatic, comes from too much inbreeding.”

“Celia.”
“Yes Harry?”
“Use the door.”

“My parents, they were vampires and you, you’re a vampire too!”

“They take your parking places! Your wives! Your jobs!”

“Back foul thing!”
“Please.”

“We know who and what you are Mr Martinesque.”

“That’s the one that’s fornicating with this one.”

“The guy with the crucifix really thinks you’re a vampire.”

“What’s behind all those dark Carpathian eyes?”

“Why shouldn’t I kill them back?”

“We’re taking the attack bikes tonight.”

“They’ll be back by the busloads. Singing hymns. Sharpening fence pickets.”

“It makes us what they say we are.”
Tags: movie review, twin peaks
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