Milton (Milo Cawthorne) wakes up in a remote country cabin. It's Tuesday. He's disoriented and makes his way to the bathroom to barf. While in there, he notices a video camera in the bathtub with a piece of paper stuck to it - upon it, a message is scribbled: "Play me now". Upon following these instructions, Milton's taken aback when he's confronted by footage of himself from the night before. He witnesses him hack two of his fingers off with a cleaver (though his digits are perfectly attached in the present tense) and is then told by his own video visage to sit back and listen to what's been going on of late...
At this point we're transported back to the beginning of Milton's most curious story. We meet the promising chemical student when he attends a rehab clinic as a result of his addiction to homemade crystal meth. His support group is attended by spunky young babe Skyler (Olivia Tennet), who's very open about what she desires: "I need to find someone who can cook high grade crack, and I need to find them quick".
Suckered in by Skyler's flattery - she refers to him as a fledgling genius - Milton is easily swayed into impressing her with his meth-cooking skills. They start a relationship together in the meantime. And then comes her proposition: she wants Milton to work in her crack lab for just one day - cooking as much meth as is humanly possible, as part of an unfeasibly great deal which promises to set him up financially for life.
Of course, there's a catch. The catch here is Russell (Ari Boyland). Skyler's boyfriend on the outside. He's the one who can get his hands on an insane amount of pure meth for Milton to work with. And he's also described by his own girlfriend as being "dangerous", "100% psycho" and "the devil".
Milton has little choice in the matter. By the time Skyler's proposition has been played out, Russell has already made his way into the rehab clinic in a bid to break his girlfriend and designated crack cook out.
Russell seems affable enough to begin with. But all of that swiftly changes once he's got Milton and Skyler back to his remote cabin in the country, and his true nature begins to reveal itself. What has Milton got himself into? Far, far deeper shit than even he could imagine...
That's the premise, or at least that's all you need to know for now. That's the first third of BLOOD PUNCH, in a nutshell. Suffice it to say, it gets a whole lot stranger - and darker - from there on in. But to say any more would be to ruin the fun of chancing upon this unconventional, amusing and constantly inventive horror thriller for yourselves.
What I can tell you is that production values are strong, often belying the apparent small budget. The cast are spunky and convincing, with Cawthorne in particular impressing as the affable, misguided antihero. Genre fans will recognise him as the lead in the equally enjoyable DEATHGASM. He's slightly more reserved but no less quirky here. Boyland plays the villain with a calm menace which really works in his favour as the tension escalates and events move from the sinister to the downright insane.
And BLOOD PUNCH does approach insanity on several occasions. That director Madellaine Paxson can consistently ground Eddie Guzelian's nutty screenplay and make even the maddest stories seem palatable is some feat.
With plenty of agreeable humour, twisted gore and its fair share of sexiness, it's also heartening to report that BLOOD PUNCH benefits from good pacing and an effective score. The denouement is a tad weak, granted, but the good far outweighs the bad.
BLOOD PUNCH is presented uncut on Bounty Films' UK DVD, in a healthy-looking 16x9 transfer. Everything appears to be correctly framed, while images are crisp and detail is fine. Flesh tones look accurate throughout; colours are vibrant alongside solid blacks and a pleasing absence of any compression-related issues.
English 2.0 audio fares well too - it's clear, clean and consistent throughout.
The disc opens to a static main menu page. From there, a static scene selection menu offers access to the film across two screens via 12 chapters.
A welcome array of bonus material begins with an audio commentary from Cawthorne, who's joined by a pair of moderators who are introduced as being "David" and "Les Morris" (I'm assuming the latter is tuning in via Skype or something similar - he's quite muffled for the most part). They're clearly big fans of the film and bounce around enthusiastically for the duration of playback. Cawthorne is a little less excitable, but responds to their prompts well with a wealth of both technical information and on-shoot anecdotes. It all makes for a fun listen.
Lovers of commentaries will be delighted by a second one, offered up next. This one comes courtesy of Paxson and Guzelian. This opens with a light-hearted - but entirely necessary - written disclaimer which warns that the first few minutes of the track suffer from poor audio quality. They're not kidding: the first three minutes or so are blighted by low volume and, worse, interference on the track which makes it really difficult (but not impossible) to hear Guzelian's early drinking-related source of inspiration. Bear with it though, because the audio soon clears itself up and this ends up being another most worthy, informative and fun track. It's great when the makers of an enjoyable film come across as likeable people, and such is the case here.
17 minutes of deleted scenes - six on total - are vaguely interesting but only offer extraneous detail. Certainly the film would've felt like a hard slog, had they made the final cut.
We also get 9 minutes of enjoyable production outtakes. The shoot looks to have been a fairly relaxed, good-natured one.
Two trailers clock in at a combined length of just under 3 minutes. They're different enough to both be valid, but both manage to convey the plot with plenty of emphasis on the film's winning blend of humour, gore and sexiness.
BLOOD PUNCH is engaging, spirited and inventive. It's a lot of fun. It looks great on Bounty's disc, and is furnished with a host of intriguing, contextual extras.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by Bounty Films|