11th Feb2020

‘Blood Bags’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Makenna Guyler, Emanuele Turetta, Marta Tananyan, Alberto Sette, Salvatore Palombi, Denitza Diakovska, Franco Olivero, Mario Cellini, Riccardo Leto | Written by Emiliano Ranzani, Davide Mela | Directed by Emiliano Ranzani

blood-bags-poster

Blood Bags is the kind of film you’d expect to have seen in the mid to late 80s, emanating out of Italy – you see this film is the closest to an Italian horror I’ve seen in some time. Unfortunately it suffers some of the same foibles those films did: in so much as it often doesn’t make sense and is most definitely a case of style over substance. But when that’s the kind of genre fare you’re homaging, is that a bad thing?

Yes, in his first feature (having directed a number of shorts prior), Emiliano Ranzani pays respect to the like of Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci with a film that echoes the work of those directors, yet also suffers in comparison; with an ending that seems more Bruno Mattei than Fulci or Argento… A film that, ultimately, spoils the entire of the film that came before it!

To be fair, I had high hopes for Emiliano Ranzani’s film – after all he had worked on The Theatre Bizarre, penning the script for Richard Stanley’s segment Mother of Toads – a short which too echoed the work of Lucio Fulci, whilst throwing in nods to EC Comics and even HP Lovecraft. Yet it seems, after watching Blood Bags, Ranzani should probably stick to the short film format – this feature is dragged out far too long, so much so that it seems Ranzani ran out of ideas and instead plundered as many Italian horror tropes as he could, feeding the audience stereotypical visual after stereotypical visual…

The story itself is solid. Though Ranzani abandons the premise pretty early. The blood bags of the title are collected from the arm of a willing prostitute by Vittorio (Alberto Sette) for his brother, shot suffers from Gunther’s Disease – which were told in the opening is a rare form of Erythropoietic Porphyria; a hereditary blood disease which includes extreme sensitivity to light among its various symptoms. “It’s said to have given rise to the vampire myth”. It’s not for his brothers own good, oh no, it’s merely to prevent him from going on a huge murderous rampage… Oops, probably shouldn’t have stashed your brother in an eerie house in Turin then. One that attracts not only two thieves but also a photography student and her friend, attracted by the gothic look of the house.

So we have two students, a thief (whose partner is killed early on), and a cop all trapped in a house with a monster who likes to drink blood. A superb set-up that seems to be tossed aside by Ranzani in favour of slasher-style stalk and slash action. Only without any of the necessary food or gore you’d expect from slasher movies or the Italian genre fare this film aims to emulate.

Blood Bags certainly looks good, Ranzani has a great eye for visuals after all, but the visuals become the driving force – the story is jettisoned, the horror turned into a series of corridor chases, but the visuals; the visuals remain the high point: from the atmospheric use of colour, light and shadow a la Suspiria and Inferno, to the stunning vision of a victim turned into a blood-soaked ballerina, Ranzani really has made a good looking film. But at the expense of pretty much everything else.

And that ending? Dear god, that might have worked in the dreamlike (short hand for incoherent) Italian genre films of the ’80s but here it just feels like a film that’s run out of ideas. Which is odd for a film that planners ideas from a myriad of films that have come before it.

Blood Bags is out now on DVD from High Octane Pictures.

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