Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bloodbath in the House of Knives (2009)

Regional horror films are the sort of thing every film gnostic lives for. Well do I remember the days of noting strange titles on drive-in marquees and wondering about their origin. Everyone of us used to know at least somebody who caught The Night Daniel Died on a one-week run or discovered the original Night of the Living Dead at the bottom third of week-end bill. And once in a great while we too might have found something special at 2:30AM on a local TV station. Because having access to this sort of experience is what made you cool among other film geeks.
So I was delighted that Mr. Ted Moehring would elect to send me a DVD-R (in an illustrated clam shell, no less!) of his gallo, Bloodbath in the House of Knives. Made in the isolated town of Boyertown, PA ( and surrounding environs), Bloodbath is a neat little film that shows how people with limited means can still create something to hold the attention. Using a cast of unknowns, it manages to capture the spirit of Bird with the Crystal Plumage and Suspiria.
The plot is complex: a nightclub hypnotist puts a man in a trance. Suddenly, the trancee goes on a rampage, killing a member of the audience before he is felled by a bullet from an unknown shooter. Meanwhile a sinister figure in black and wearing a theater mask is randomly killing people in the town where the movie takes place. And a woman named Ivy keeps getting threatening phone messages from a stalker. Are the killings related? And when is the intrepid police detective going to put it all together?
And there are a number of effect-laden murders, none accomplished with CGI or growth hormones. At least one is quite scary.
Lloyd Kaufman does an excellent job of playing himself. As a matter of fact, I can't think of anyone else who could do such a good job playing Lloyd Kaufman. The only problem is Lloyd Kaufman is supposed to be playing a sleazy lawyer in this movie.
A few other complaints would be the lack of exterior shots. Some local color might have been nice. At least I was able to see the town across from where I live for a few minutes in The Lovely Bones. But I don't recall any news of Mr. Moehring shutting down Boyertown traffic to film Bloodbath.
Good use of lighting, color, and a surprise ending. I hope we'll be seeing more of Ted Moehring.