Plot: What’s it about?
A rash of dead sorority girls has local authorities concerned, but of course, they have no leads or breaks to discuss. The young women were murdered on the campus of small college in the Midwest, where these kind of things simply aren’t supposed to happen. But as we’ve seen here, they do happen and there’s a pile of bodies to validate that statement. It is obvious the same killer or killers are behind the murders also, as the victims all fall into the same brackets of age & looks, young beautiful women. After the girls were murdered, their bodies were mutilated by the killer and that’s not the worst of the details. It seems the killer also took some evidence as they left, as in parts of the women left in bloody pools of death. A golden amulet has been left behind at each crime scene also, which creates a solid, factual link between the cases, as if the horrific dismemberments and missing body parts weren’t enough. Is this the work of a crazed madman, or is a dark force from the past involved, known only as the Blood Cult?
As we all know, the direct to video realm is swamped with horror movies these days, but Blood Cult is the one that started it all. Not just the first horror movie either, but the first film of any kind to be made with the home video market in mind. Back in 1985, low rent horror was in fashion and Blood Cult is a low rent horror picture, that much is certain. I like how the filmmakers take a serious approach here, as opposed to injecting camp elements, but it is a risk and at times, it doesn’t pay off and the movie looks ludicrous. The main issue here is budget and while a lot of horror is low budget, Blood Cult seems to have been for mere chicken feed. In addition to being shot on video, the film has poor performances and aside from a few instances, the writing is bad also. I was also surprised by the lack of suspense and atmosphere, but in the end, Blood Cult proved to be worthwhile and perhaps that’s just because I’m a horror movie nut. There’s plenty of blood & guts to be seen, some nice screams from the female cast members, and the visuals are sometimes quite effective. I recommend this movie to diehard horror movie fans and of course, anyone interested in seeing the first ever direct to video motion picture.
Video: How does it look?
Blood Cult is presented in a full frame transfer, as intended. As this was shot on video, it cannot be judged by the same standards as a normal feature film, as it could never match up to those levels. I’d seen a couple prior versions and was never too pleased, as contrast was overly dark and on the whole, the images were almost unwatchable. But most of the problems are cleared up in this edition, as the image is clean, sharp, and never even close to bad, let alone unwatchable. Some grain is still evident, but that is to be expected in this case, I think. The colors have a bright, but natural look and contrast is dead on, as black levels are refined and well balanced at all times. It still looks like it was shot on video, but it looks very good and given the approach used & the budget involved, I doubt Blood Cult could look much better than this.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included Dolby Digital stereo option seems adequate, as all the needed audio is present and in fine form. I don’t think you should expect much beyond the basics, but the material is covered and that’s what counts, I think. All the screams sound loud & bothersome, while the music is clean and well presented, which is vital in this case. I had no trouble with dialogue either, as the vocals were sharp and easy to understand at all times. As far as low budget, direct to video horror movies go, this mix is more than acceptable, no complaints on this end.
Supplements: What are the extras?
I was pleased to see VCI has included some cool extras here, including an audio commentary track with director Christopher Lewis, musical director Rod Slane, and producer Linda Lewis. As usual, the presence of multiple speakers keep the session alive and moving ahead, but some silent spaces still creep in, though not often. The topic of why the film was shot on video is addressed, as well as the reasons for aiming at the home video realm and assorted other issues, all handled in frank, candid fashion. This disc also includes two promotional videos, a pair of interviews, some talent files, a selection of still photos, and the film’s trailer.