Blood Diner


Oct 14, 2011

Blood Diner (1987)
Director: Jackie Kong
Writers: Michael Sonye
Starring: Rick Burks, Carl Crew and Roger Dauer

The Plot: Blood Diner is the classic story of two brothers and their devotion to their faith. Unfortunately, their faith is in allegiance to an ancient pagan god named Sheetar who requires a “blood buffer” in order to arise and destroy all of humanity. George (Carl Crew) and Michael Tutman (Rick Burks) were absorbed into this cult at an early age right before their crazy uncle was shot dead for committing a series of grisly murders. When George and Michael grow up, they take over in their uncle’s work and start up their own restaurant that specializes in Sheetar-prepared delicacies. Pining for his advice, the boys soon dig up their uncle’s body and remove his brain from his corpse. They speak some magic words and revive his spirit inside of this disembodied brain, which they place inside of a jar. With their dear uncle at the helm, this group looks to find as many “dirty” girls as they can and use them as sacrifices in order to wake Sheetar up from her slumber.

The Review
Although the eighties were potent with a large number of generic comedic-horror movies, there were definitely variations on the genre exposed during this period. The most notable of the era would be the slapstick black comedies produced by Sam Raimi with his Evil Dead series. These films influenced an entire army of filmmakers and completely changed the face of horror in many regards. Sam Raimi showed that you didn’t necessarily have to aspire to make the most terrifying film ever made in order to make a very good horror movie. Blood Diner is one of those films that certainly seemed inspired by this new wave of camp horror titles, but just how over the top it goes is far beyond what you might expect from it. Made as either a parody of H.G. Lewis’ Blood Feast or maybe an ode/unnoficial sequel to it, the origins of Blood Diner are a bit murky. However, what is understood is the content that we are given with the film. As broad a comedy as any one person is going to find, Blood Diner came around at just the right time and rode on a wave of very similar titles that all seemed to gather steam from one another. The west coast answer for the New York Splatter movement, Blood Diner is a ludicrous and brilliant piece of satirical horror that will either inspire ample amounts of love or a tremendous amount of hate from modern viewers.

The general style of Blood Diner is very reminiscent to the New York City trash films that seemed to pop up right around the late 1980s. Films like Street Trash, Basket Case and Slime City have all gone on to become cult-classics for their punk rock attitude and their horror-comedy sensibilities, but Blood Diner manages to follow in similar inspirations but also adds a very West Coast flair to the scene. Blood Diner packs that Los Angeles straight-to-video decadence that films like Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers also seemed to have. Every film mentioned thus far seems to have three things in common: violence, punk rock fashions/attitude, and very over the top humor. Similar to what Troma was becoming known for, Blood Diner doesn’t shy away from crude jokes or over exaggeration. Rubber faces are not only “allowed”, they are also encouraged in Blood Diner. The main difference between this film, and something like Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D., is that this film actually has a sense of wit behind the jokes. Sure, the jokes may be equally as crude, but they aren’t funny just because of their poor taste.

This movie is full of strange characters to go with its incredibly strange sense of humor. The rogues gallery of weird characters who are given an unexpected amount of screen time are part of the movies charm though. We have Vitamin C, who is essentially just some very large man who loves the food served at the Diner. He is continually beaten up by Michael (Rick Burks) throughout the movie, which makes you wonder why he would ever frequent such a diner in the first place. Michael himself is a fairly odd duck, now that I mention it. All we know about this character is that he loves professional wrestling and he absolutely loathes the pro-wrestler “Savage” Jimmy Hitler. Despite being a fairly small guy, Michael also dreams of one day stepping into the ring with Hitler. George, Michael’s slightly more sane brother, does the majority of the talking throughout the movie. This seems odd until you notice that Michael essentially acts like an ape for the majority of the picture. It is never explained why his character is so over the top and wild, despite being raised in the same household as his more reserved and seemingly normal brother. However, I like this fact and I like the dynmaic that it creates between these characters. In a more conventional film, George would be a “leading man” and he would come to his senses and tame his wild brother. Blood Diner is far from conventional, however. Finally, I have to comment on my favorite character. There’s this one character who hangs at every diner in town, throughout the entire movie, and he is OBVIOUSLY a prop dummy. Yes, a dummy. He is set at the counter and is given a voiceover that sounds a lot like a chipmunk. The fact that this character is blatantly fake is never once acknowledged. Not even when he is lifted into the sky and thrown across a diner during one sequence. Surreal and out of this world, this one character defines everything that is “right” about Blood Diner.
Despite this being a comedy, human life is really shown to have no worth in this movie. This comes back to the satirical side of the humor, as I think Kong and crew were looking to have some fun with the “why we love horror” debate and the world they created is one where everyone seems to know that they are in a horror movie. While “body count” movies were at the height of their popularity, Blood Diner definitely took things way over the top. During the opening twenty minutes we are treated to one of the most sensationalist killing sprees that I have ever seen. There are few things quite as monumentally brilliant as the “nude aerobics” scene which leads to this massive slaughter. It is exactly what it sounds like, with several young women dancing around doing aerobics while topless. Only instead of the workout ending with a towel and a shower, the girls are gunned down by our Sheetar-worshipping boys who don Ronald Reagan masks and assault the entire room with a machine gun. Without a doubt, it is an image that won’t soon be forgotten. The gore splattered room afterward might remind modern audiences of Takashi Miike’s Ichi the Killer, because this one actually gets nasty. The nude aerobics massacre is only the start of this crime spree, however. This quite literally takes place during the introduction of our two leading men and works as one of the first few moments where we get to know them for who they really are. Throughout the movie, the boys remain killing one person after another without thought or hesitation. Most of the time they don’t even have a valid reason for their murderous rage. There is a sequence that takes place outside of a nightclub that perfectly demonstrates this. The scene is a funny little distraction that features the boys sporting the worst eighties fashion possible. The boys start off finding it hard to get into the nightclub, so what do do expect that they should do? Debate with the door man? Discuss the issue sensibly? Duh, they throw the pipsqueak bouncer right onto the concrete, of course! Just as he hits the ground, a car with hydraulics comes jumping up and down in front of him and squashes his head in a very disgusting manner. This of course elicits nothing but laughter from all who are watching, which is so defiant to logic that you just have to sit back in awe while this goes down. It brings me back to the concept that maybe this movie takes place in a reality where everyone is aware of their horror movie surroundings, but instead of fighting the flow they just go with it.

The Conclusion
I really don’t think it will be a film that reaches all tastes and sensibilities, but for those of you with an open mind this one is too much fun to pass up. It is incredibly gory, supremely funny, and generally over the top in every way imaginable. Definitely score a copy if you haven’t seen it already.