A while back, I saw the trailer for Summer of Blood. It looked like a funny, goofy vampire movie. It seemed like director/writer/star, Onur Tukel, would be playing a parody of Tim Heidecker’s character from The Comedy – an unambitious New Yorker. And he would be a vampire. My interest was piqued. I put it in my queue right away and then promptly forgot about it. Later (much later), I found myself in a mood for a horror film that had no semblance of taking itself seriously. Summer of Blood was rediscovered, and settled upon. (now, you, lucky reader, get to reap the benefit of that decision by reading my review of the film!)
Erik, a shlubby, unkempt 30-something (40?), self-describes as someone who doesn’t take anything seriously. He is constantly cracking wise about every single thing in his life, important or trivial. When his girlfriend, Jody, asks him to marry her, he turns her down in the most socially ignorant way. He tells her he “gets” what she’s doing but tries to convince her that she doesn’t want to do it after all. Then he disparages children and, by extension, people who have children. Jody questions her commitment to Erik in light of his lack of commitment and unwillingness to have kids. What could have ended as a typical couple’s tiff, gets upgraded to a catastrophe (for Erik) when they run into a handsome, successful old friend of Jody’s. She unceremoniously dumps him and leaves with Mr Handsome. Erik is upset but tries to prove to himself that he’s not as big a loser as Jody’s new boyfriend thinks he is by going on some dates through a matchmaker website. He has three dates with three women and they all go very poorly. (Oh, and he stumbles upon a guy bleeding to death from a neck wound during this time and, true to form, doesn’t take the situation seriously.) Distraught, and lonely, he meets a weird stranger with strange eyes who asks him if he wants to die. After some half-hearted attempts at sarcasm and irony, he admits that he does. The stranger bites his neck and he wakes up with intense light sensitivity and an excruciating hankering for blood. Besides these minor negative side effects, he finds his vampirism is pretty good for his social life since he’s now a confident pick up artist (worse than being a vampire?) and a sex machine! It’s also good for his financial life since he can hypnotize his landlord into letting him live rent-free. But is it enough to make him happy?
Though Summer of Blood is more of a comedy than a horror film, there’s still plenty of arterial spray for genre fans. The writing is snappy and clever and Tukel’s mile-a-minute delivery is really fun to watch. His character is so tactless that his socially inappropriate behavior fits perfectly with his undead lifestyle once he turns. This makes for some pretty funny scenes. He becomes smooth enough to realize, for example, that telling a woman that she shouldn’t eat too much bread is gauche. But he only doesn’t say it because he’s manipulating her into sex. What an asshole! Some of the acting is uneven (I say that a lot, huh?), but the film is fun nonetheless. We can forgive some spotty acting when the movie is effective enough to get us to root for its selfish whiner protagonist.
THE FINAL CUT: With a witty script and a convincingly unlikable lead, Summer of Blood delivers the chuckles. This low-budget effort is certainly not blood-shy. Biting, gushing, and bitey sex abound. Its charm covers for the spotty acting (despite its charmless lead!).