Blood Wars – Psycho Studios (2008)

The film begins introducing a cast of college-age characters, and all the woes that go along with them.  The shy, goofy hippy and his black friend try to hook up with the sensitive girl and her hot Goth roommate, only to get harassed by the jock asshole.  Except in this one the jock asshole also has magical powers he learned from his parents- Sentries.  Sentries are centuries old duel-class Benedictine Monk / Wizards who hunt vampires while sporting some stylish potato sacks.

Meanwhile Julien (Tony Todd himself) is the elder and leader of a coven of vampires who seeks to pass on the title of head vampire dude to another. By ritual, the passage of leadership requires one to hunt down and slay one of these Sentries.  Conveniently, one happens to be available.

However, before the vampires get the chance to take him out, he's killed in a struggle with Will after trying to rape his girlfriend.  Will ends up getting jumped by the vampire instead and bitten, but refuses to drink blood to seal the deal.  He starts quickly developing powers; his wounds heal, he's sensitive to light, tired during the day, and gets all moody and depressed about having to take a life and transforms from goofy hippy to vampire emo douche.

The vampire Claudius wants the title, so he's pissed to find out some kid stole his kill and complains a bit about it and begins plotting his revenge.  Meanwhile the Sentries are pissed someone killed one of their own, so they go hunting for the vampires.

About an hour in he figures out everything that is happening and goes to kick some ass, hunts down the vampires where they hide and begins to go all Power Rangers on the rest of the coven, kicking the crap out everyone. He kills of Claudius in a duel, but gets shut down in his fight against Julien. Before the elder can finish the kid off, the monks show up to save the day.

They are a little upset with the whole deal, but they tell him to go stand in the sun for a while and leave. If he survives he'll be allowed to stick around for the sequel.  There is a moralizing we're all friends ending with everyone sharing their feeling with each other, and then he wanders off into the streets looking for the vampire that bit him.

The movie has some big (or at least upcoming) names involved. Jason Connery (Sean Connery's son) as a vampire competing for Tony Todd's throne, Allison Lange as the love interest, Rini Bell as her hottie Goth roommate, Owiso Odeera as the friend, and America Olivo as the vampire seductress that turns A.J. Draven into a vampire himself. Bill Doyle plays one of the Sentries. C. Thomas Howell and Mark Holton even show up for a cameo. Just running down the IMDB listing, and it's an awesome cast list.

It's a bit slow with the action to start. With a cast full of professionals, the acting is top-notch, and the filming is clean and fluid thanks to an experienced team of directors, and cameramen. (A “Making of...” featurette included on the DVD talks with the director and features some neat side-by-side shots of the filming of certain scenes, and how they looked after they were cut.) 

Unfortunately, the whole thing just has the feel of a prime time Teen Drama- the characters, the story, even the ending just doesn't give off that vibe of “feature film.”  It feels like it would be more at home as one of those two-hour pilot episodes leading into a series on the WB.  Maybe it was supposed to be?  (I'd probably even watch a few episodes.) 

There really isn't much blood. Or much war. Which is a disappointment considering the name of the film. In the “Making of...” the writer mentioned the many re-writes making the film more family friendly, with less bloody, less violent, and less boobs.  Which is a real shame. (A.J. Draven lists himself in his bio as a high-ranking black belt and instructor of Krav Maga. So the guy knows how to kick some ass; It's a shame this version of the script didn't have him kicking more of it.)  And the title menu shows a vampire with a sword and some guys carrying guns...  neither of those appear anywhere in the film either. 

If you're into the teen drama scene, you might want to check this out.  If you're looking for war, or blood, or vampire slaying, or anything else you might expect from the title or the box art, not so much.

1 ½ of 4

reviewed by Jeremy Gaggins

© Copyright 2009 John Shatzer