(A.k.a. STAR VEHICLE)
Ryan Nicholson. If you know the name, you'll have a fair idea of what BLEADING LADY - the plucky Canadian's latest directorial effort - offers. He's the guts behind LIVE FEED, HANGER and GUTTERBALLS. If you're familiar with any of these films, particularly the latter two, then it should be apparent to you that BLEADING LADY is going to be low budget, expletive-riddled and very gory.
And so it is.
As if to prove the point, a pre-credits sequence introduces us to Don (Dan Ellis), driving several of his mates down a darkened track one evening. They start to discuss an infamous celebrity death that occurred nearby and, Don being a movie buff, they cajole him into taking them to the exact spot. Instead, he tires of their pressuring and pulls over, producing a pistol and machete. Dragging his passengers to a lonely spot, he slays them all with his blade - and the cheesy 80s-style titles roll.
It transpires that Don is a driver to the underlings of the film industry. It's not a problem for him: he's such a fan of films, that he's just happy to be working with anyone involved with the movies, and in any capacity. Trouble is, he can't contain his encyclopaedic knowledge of the films he loves - and bores his clients with his incessant recanting of facts, dates, anecdotes and statistics.
All of which provides mild humour at his expense and little more, until he begins work as a driver for the sexy scream queen Riversa (Sindy Faraguna).
Don drives Riversa and her immediate posse into the Canadian forests for the shooting of her latest horror film, overseen by terminal dickhead Luke (Nathan Durec). Despite his obvious intensity, he blends in to begin with - but things begin to go awry when Don develops extreme feelings for Riversa. No-one, it appears, respects her in the same way that he feels he does.
Riversa, bless her, is polite to Don in late-night drives, oblivious to his growing obsession. But director Luke is more switched on, and seems intent on alienating the chauffeur ... which, unbeknownst to him, is a very unwise move indeed.
We don't have to wait too long before Don - who looks not too dissimilar to Peter Sutcliffe, while managing to sound like Ray Romano - kicks off big-style.
BLEADING LADY is slightly better shot and more concerted in its exposition that Nicholson's earlier films. It doesn't necessarily mean that characters are any better fleshed out, but at least there is a sense of incremental storytelling that was lacking from his previous oeuvre. The way the film rolled out reminded very much of the pacing behind early 80s slashers such as THE BURNING and DON'T GO IN THE HOUSE.
Despite a novel premise, the film flirts with clichéd characters and even more obvious dialogue. It wouldn't have mattered if many of the performances weren't so crappy. But they are.
So it's left to Nicholson to dress his film in the appropriate lighting and set designs, and employ the right music at the right time, in the hope of constructing something worthy of the film's gore set-pieces (which are a long time in coming). To his credit, he does just this. If nothing else, the film looks and sounds nice. Okay, it's true that it's never more aesthetically pleasing until a set-piece presents itself - Nicholson was presumably bored during the shooting of all the other stuff - but the general flair on offer is, while never astounding, better than what he's given us previously.
Violence-wise, the film is a definite step down from GUTTERBALLS. Although it's very gory still, and does contain some nudity, it's just never that ... nasty.
Vicious Circle (an offshoot of Breaking Glass Pictures) have provided a very rudimentary, extras and menus-free screener disc for review purposes. While it can't be claimed to be indicative of the final release version, it does at least bode well in terms of picture and audio.
BLEADING LADY is presented uncut in 1.78:1 and enhanced for 16x9 television sets. Colours are natural, flesh-tones remain accurate and any grain appears to be an intentional stylistic choice in keeping with the sleazy look of grindhouse 1970s cinema. If you're familiar with GUTTERBALLS then, visually, you know what to expect.
English 2.0 audio is fair but unremarkable.
The retail disc is set to include a Making Of featurette ("Behind The Wheel"), on-set footage, eight deleted scenes, an alternate opening plus audio commentary from Nicholson and Ellis.
BLEADING LADY is a decent film, certainly better than LIVE FEED (although it doesn't feel as 'big'). It makes you wait for the madness but, when it comes, it's pretty fucking derailed. Nicholson fans will get exactly what they expect; newcomers should expect something cheap, competent and gory.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by Vicious Circle Films/ Breaking Glass Pictures|
|Region 1 - NTSC|
|see main review|