Blood Creek (2009)

I wanted sleazy slasher horror – something to have fun reviewing – so I plucked Blood Creek (2009) off the shelf. Cover photo features a bald guy with a scarred, swastika-embossed noggin, in a leather jacket. Only four reviews on MRQE, including those from FulVue Drive-in, Bloody-Disgusting and Buried. Promising. But uh oh. Original title: Town Creek. Not promising. And Michael Fassbender is the Nazi. Double up-oh. I should have checked the box more carefully. The man is a star. Check out that 24-minute scene in Hunger (3008). This is not good; not a sign of sleaze. On the other hand, Kevin Costner made The New Daughter (2009), and that thing was execrable (a word that would knock me out of the spelling bee). Don’t give up on the sleaze. Hmm. A cast comprised of Aussies and Brits and Germans? The budget to fly them all to West Virginia, where the movie is set, would be… oops, my mistake. Filmed in Romania. Director  is Joel Shumacher, who has made, well, lots of stuff. Real movies. Two Batmans. Falling Down (1993). Tigerland (2000).  Phone Booth (2002). The man is 71. Going senile? Or have I stumbled upon a real actual movie here by accident? Chances of sleazy horror? Going down!

So let’s see. Classy prolog in black and white. Fassbender in 1938 shows up on a West Virginia farm wearing that cool ankle-length Nazi black leather coat. Did he get to keep it? Must ask him next time I run into him. Here in Blood Creek, he’s a Nazi seeking a mystic Nordic runestone, a la the bad guys in Indiana Jones.

Cut to the present, in color. After one or two minutes of plot, we’re into the folks-in-a-farmhouse-with-an-angry-Nazi-zombie-outside movie. That horror-movie score with bass stringed instruments commences, a low ominous drone presaging trouble; it continues throughout the picture. The Nazi now is wearing a leather mask, never explained, and has suffered 70 years of wear and tear, and I immediately asked myself whether that was really Fassbender under there? Perhaps he flew to Romania, had a walk-on at the beginning, and then flew home again. My question was answered after a while when he peeled off the mask, as well as a layer of skin or two underneath, and it was still him – or at least I think it was him.

First sign that we’re dealing with schlock here: guy creeping up on farmhouse armed with a shotgun. Attacked by a  doberman (naturally. Nazi dog.) Dog bites him. Guy’s brother knifes the dog. Guy with the dog bite whips out a syringe with a big “RABIES VACCINE” label on the side. Injects himself with its contents into his abdomen, needle into flesh style. Then continues on. That’s good preparedness! I always try to carry a syringe like that when I jog but sometimes I just substitute an energy bar.

Second sign that we’re dealing with schlock: the problem of proportionality, viz:

Guy kills a couple of zombies in gorefest fashion, taking a few dings on his head and body to wear through the rest of the movie, and then, as he lies gasping  and attempts to gather his wits, his brother says, “The old lady is having trouble breathing.”

“Is there any aspirin in the house?” the gasping hero asks. He doesn’t know the old lady from Adam. In fact, he’s got her tied up as a zombie sympathizer.

“No.”

“Ok, then I’ll run out into the yard risking death, to retrieve my EMT bag.”

Not proportional.

Anyway, once the plot has been explained to us by the characters, we get the rules that allow the action to play out:

“He can’t come into the house because I used his runestone to something something something.”

And:

“He needs blood, plenty of it, but not his own – that would be poison to him.”

“Once his third eye develops and he crosses over, nothing can stop him, not even the runes.”

“How do you stop him from crossing over? There has to be a way.”

“There is. Maybe. But somebody will have to go outside.”

Yes, go outside, because when Fassbender came over from Berlin, he brought his ancestors’ magic bones with him to wear as a sort of suit of armor, currently hanging in the barn like a… a… mobile… and if the good guy can grab the bones and put them on, Fassbender can’t hurt him, cause he’d be hurting his own magic bones…

The one thing I want from a sleazy movie is to see something new, something that I haven’t seen before. Not too much to ask, is it? Like that horror flick where the woman says, “Come around anytime. My back door is always open.” Like that. Blood Creek delivers, twice. Number one new thing is, Fassbender can kill a horse and then bring it back to zombie life (oh, by the way, he’s not a zombie but I don’t have the energy to explain what he is is. Suffice it to say that he’s a Nazi, still kicking after all these years. Is this what Hannah Arendt was referring to when she mentioned the banality of evil?). Fassbender can’t enter the farmhouse, of course, I forget why, the rules, but he can send a zombie horse in there. A nice thoroughbred; I hope they haven’t been harnessing that beauty to a plow, but this is Romania. Now, though, the zombie horse is rampaging through the kitchen, getting shot a zillion times, mane on CGI fire, so forth. That, I haven’t seen before: flaming horse in kitchen, zombie or otherwise, Romania or elsewhere. It was kind of funny but also kind of cool.

Number two new thing I’ll get to later.

The film zipped by in less than 90 minutes. Well paced. After the credits and prolog, it felt like an episode of some kooky western. Perhaps Schumacher had a couple of weeks on his hands, a desire to see Romania, and his grandson’s script from film school (actually, David Kajganich takes the blame for the story. He was born in Ohio but that’s no excuse.). In the heat of the moment, as the movie flies by, Australian accents made an appearance or two. The action edits are of the I-can’t-tell-what’s-going-on-here variety, followed by blood spurts. No nudity, but in a moment of extreme crisis, the female lead uses a forefinger to tuck a lock of hair behind her ear; got to look good! (It’s Emma Booth.) Hard to identify who’s who among the male protagonists; in particular, who’s still alive and who’s dead now as they tussle with whatever farm implements they can lay their hands on. One of the guy characters is an Iraq war veteran; can’t remember if that helps him to survive or not. Schumacher’s one chance to save this thing: a commentary. But, no commentary.  😦

Things I missed by not paying attention:

– How did the good guy get the bad guy’s blood in him, so that when the bad guy tries to feast on him, the bad guy gets poisoned?

– How did this family live for 70 years in the closeknit hill country of West Virginia without aging, and avoid notice, meanwhilst harvesting derelicts and locals as needed for blood?

– How did ancient mystical Norse Nazi runestones get scattered all over the state?

But of course, the movie makes no sense.

Things I did learn even without paying attention:

– If you’re German immigrant farmers and you find a giant ancient Nordic runestone out in the field, you don’t contact a museum. You use the stone as part of the wall when you put in your root cellar.

– If you’re developing a third eye, you need to take a hammer and a metal punch and conk a hole in your forehead skullbone for the eye to see out of. This scene is probably not at the top of Fassbender’s resume.

I was reminded by a podcast to rewatch The Devil’s Rejects (2005). Blood Creek in comparison is a lesser rivulet. The finale of Blood Creek sets up a sequel. Fassbender, do this again and you’re dead to me.

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