06th May2020

‘Girls Just Wanna Have Blood’ Review

by Dom Hastings

Stars: Amanda Renee, Destyne Marshai, Penny Praline, Gigi Gustin, Bettina Skye, Craig Kelly, Kirk Ponton, David M. Sitbon | Written and Directed by Anthony Catanese

“The only positive thing about you is your HIV status.”

As one would naturally expect, Girls Just Wanna Have Blood opens with a deadly bite of sickly sleaze, but is yet accompanied (and quite often too) with a killer rock soundtrack… almost Giallo-esque. The biters? Trish (Destyne Marshai), April (Penny Praline) and Stacy (Gigi Gustin) – they use seduction to gain the attention of their victims. Essentially, they are the sleazed-up, youthful version of the Sanderson sisters from Hocus Pocus, but vampires instead of witches . If anything serious can be read in this film or taken from it, it is the concept of family and the theme of belonging is ever present. For the unfortunate Jessica (Amanda Renee), the opportunity to belong is exactly how the vampiric trio recruit her to the group.

For Jessica, life is pretty sh*t, and things will get worse, but she doesn’t know it yet. Having to look after the family baby because her mother, Lucy (Bettina Skye), is a rogue parent, Jess is unfairly treated and tasked, leading to bullying from the school’s cool kids among other negativity. Simply being in the right place at the right time, the vampires force their friendship upon her – kinda like Mark Addy saving the ginger guy’s life in The Full Monty, but much more sinister. On the other side of the blood-ridden coin, however, is the comically eccentric Boris Von Yelsing (Craig Kelly) – a vampire hunter, obviously. Luckily for him, he happens to conveniently arrive in town just as a significant increase in suspicious deaths occur, but does he have any hope in hell in stopping this madness?

Madness is ever present in Girls Just Wanna Have Blood. Filth from start to finish. Exaggerated vulgarity to the extreme. Essentially, this is more of an exploitation film than it is a horror film, but closest to being a comedy film. Pure trash cinema. From perverse parents to wild haircuts, comedic moments and aspects are present throughout, be them intentional or not. Adding in surreal effects in an almost experimental fashion, this is one wild ride. The wildness of this film, however, does often come in the form of graphic material. The over-sexualised portrayals of female characters – under a male director – can be problematic, but do they get a free pass under the umbrella of trash cinema, exploitation and even Grindhouse? In existing within a low-budget movie, sometimes resembling a glorified student film, the presentation of nudity appears in an amateur video fashion, establishing an extra layer of awkwardness.

The actresses behind the vampires all bring something different in their blood-tastic portrayals – not one character is the same in this feature. Of course, not all of the characters are spectacles, nor are all the performances terrific, in fact, a Razzie would be too good of an achievement for some of the performances. But good, bad and ugly, they do come together to establish a fun romp of a film.

Girls Just Wanna Have Blood is proof that instances of an obviously low production value don’t always diminish the overall quality of the film. Contextually, a grotesque practical effect is completely accurate for the look and tone of the film, despite looking awful at the same time. For writer/director Anthony Catanese, he has established a film that has the etiquette and ability to be at the pinnacle of trash and sleaze cinema, with a cult fandom also, but only if it is honoured with the right amount of exposure in the right places.

*** 3/5

Girls Just Wanna Have Blood debuts on DVD and VOD May 26th, from Wild Eye Releasing.