Cult exploitation director Ryan Nicholson’s latest bloody offering, Bleading Lady, (aka Star Vehicle) certainly delivers on it’s pun-tastic title. Whether that’s a good thing or not – well, I’ll let you be the judge.
The plot details are simple enough (lifted from wikipedia): The film tells the tale of frustrated Teamster driver Don Cardini, abused by spoiled stars and arrogant students, who becomes a ticking time-bomb of revenge. As Don goes on the rampage, his favourite scream queen, Riversa Red, finds herself up for a new role in the greatest gorefest of all: real life.
This film is really a tough one to critique. It gleefully presents the viewer with cheesy acting, horrible 80’s synth music and production values that barely match your typical Skinemax offering. And yet, there is this pervasive meta-level of self reference throughout the flick that presents the whole thing as a parody of exactly the type of film that this is. Characters openly talk about slasher film clichés and the whole plot is wrapped around a film-within-a-film. The problem is that parody only really works when it is obvious that the artist has full command of his craft and is making stylistic choices purposely to make a point about the genre he is lampooning. In this case, there is no clear boundary between the style and artistic execution of the movie “Bleading Lady”, and the movie-within a movie that is presented on screen. The acting, directing, editing and music suck equally in both. It’s kinda like Nicholson knows his movie sucks and wants to beat the viewer to the punch by lampooning the film he is actually making. Or not. Ack – my brain hurts…
That being said, the performance by Dan Ellis as Don the driver is oddly compelling. There is a manic quality about him that energetically propels the film to it’s inevitably bloody and drawn-out conclusion. He certainly embodies the old cliché: in Hollywood, everyone wants to be a director.
Can I really recommend a film like this? Well, if you know what you’re in for – if you like low-budget exploitation flicks with stilted dialogue, soft-core porn acting and a generous dose of tongue-in-cheek attitude, then by all means have at it. For the rest of you, well… you’ve been warned.
If you still don’t believe me, check out the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yzYLdxoLl0