Dir. Michael Su (2023)
A tribe of vampires rule the post-apocalyptic landscape, and a vampire hunter named John Shepherd must find and kill the lead vampire before he becomes one himself.
I'm a big fan of b-movies, those dime-a-dozen films that are made for cheap and generally do just enough to get their money back by being as entertaining as they can be while devoting as few resources as possible. Start with an interesting plot, throw in a few b-list or former a-list actors, and there's no telling how enjoyable a film can be. Mahal Empire, a production company that focuses on films that fit this description, have made several movies we've reviewed before (Bermuda Island, Night of the Tommyknockers, and Death Count to name a few), and now they're bringing us a post-apocalyptic vampire action film with more than a few folks you recognize from earlier work.
John Shepherd (Costas Mandylor) is a vampire hunter, navigating a desolate landscape run by the Vampire Master (Robert LaSardo) and his Queen (Tara Reid) while doing his best to simply survive. He picks up stragglers along the way, like Charlie (Johnny Huang) and Rico (Rich R. Rendon), as well as fellow vampire hunters Brooke (Sarah French), Elena (Elissa Dowling), and Daddy (William "Bill" Connor). They band together to try to take down the master, hoping to be able to take down the daywalking fiends to liberate the new world from its new undead masters.
There's a little bit of contradiction in the story, with the vampires denigrating one of their victims for offering up his stepdaughters while forcing a recently turned mother to feed on her own daughter. The acting is wooden at times, largely from those whose names you don't recognize. The effects, largely digital and generally unappealing, do limit the film's effectiveness at times. The writing, and subsequently the film itself, does tend to drag at times, and while this isn't particularly abnormal for a film of this quality, it does prevent it form reaching the heights that it felt capable of achieving in the beginning.
The good thing about a film like this, however, is that none of those critiques are particularly damaging to the overall impression of the film. It is, after all, a b-movie, created to be such and therefore not particularly aiming for anything higher. For what it is, a creatively shot indie flick with an interesting plotline, it works, and it's a legitimate entry in the vampire western subgenre. It's always a delight to see Sarah French (who we interviewed following her appearance in Death Count), and it's good to know that Tara Reid is alive as well. Costas Mandylor is actually really good in the film, playing the desperado vampire hunter out for blood. While there are a few issues with the audio at times, the mix used for the vampires voices is pretty creepy and effective.
While there's nothing particularly groundbreaking about the film and it falls firmly into the category of b-movie, there are some interesting ideas and some excellent cinematography within. Director Michael Su does a great job with what he's been given, as do most of the actors in the film. It's definitely a movie that could've used a little more money to solidify some of the effects, but it does pretty well for its budget. Mahal Empire is making quality indie content, and I'm happy to say that this one fits incredible well in their filmography.
Who this movie is for: Vampire horror nuts, Post-apocalyptic horror fans, Fallout gamers
Bottom line: Bloodthirst is a relatively cheap film but manages some pretty high production values, and it's a decent vampire action flick with a post-apocalyptic bent. The actors are decent, there's some truly impressive cinematography, and the beautiful scenery alone is worth checking out. If you're a fan of vampires, westerns, or vampire westerns, you could do a lot worse. This one is streaming On Demand wherever you rent your films, so give it a shot if it sounds like it'll be up your alley.