Director/Writer: Onur Tukel
Starring: Onur Tukel, Anna Margaret Hollyman, Dustin Guy Defa, Dakota Golhor
UK DVD & Blu-Ray release 23rd Feb 2015 from Monster Pictures
Onur Tukel stars as loose-lipped and unconstrained ‘Jerry Garcia-lookalike’ Erik Sparrow, a 40 year old New York hipster/slacker/yuppie whose constant verbalising of his contemptuous thoughts for his surrounding Brooklyn culture often lands him neck deep in trouble .When we meet this self pitying and intentionally awkward mess of a man he is refusing a marriage proposal from a girlfriend (Anna Margaret Hollyman) who very quickly sees the light and moves on, trading this pain in the neck for a much better suitor who goes on to become Erik’s nemesis.
For over thirty minutes Summer of Blood is a bleak comedy about a neurotic man struggling to survive socially and who cannot help his vulgar behaviour, such as casually harassing a co-worker (luckily for him she’s kind of into it #moviemagic) and masturbating over a pic of his ex in the staff toilet at work, right up until Erik reaches a literal ‘Dead End’ and things get a little cold and steamy in the vein of ‘Interview With The Vampire’ down on the docks.
Here the film starts to honour its title and we learn a little more about the reasons for this anti-hero’s behaviour-he is a disillusioned man who longs for death, which comes (as it often does in movies) in the form of a ethereal and enigmatic man who transforms Erik from an inappropriate human being into an even more inappropriate creature of the night. But instead of gaining any enlightenment or perspective from his new found powers, Erik’s views remain the same and it is the attitudes of his social circle that change towards Erik, now that he is more parasitic and supernaturally powerful.
Erik’s first kill is both gory and darkly funny as he apologises profoundly to his victim inbetween gulping his blood and chewing on his flesh ,and as the once ‘robotic and rigid’ man embraces the ‘effortless and awesome’ hedonist Dracula lifestyle and its perks –such as an unholy threesome of bloodthirsty groupies so lustful they could scare the English accent out of Keanu Reeves-the film benefits from a much needed lift in the form of some horror and blackest comedy.
The films best scenes occur after Erik has been bitten and there are some genuinely funny and frighteningly surreal ideas in the latter half of the movie. One must applaud Onur Tukel for casting himself as the unlikely object of numerous women’s affections and at times one cannot but think that if Woody Allen made a vampire movie this would be it. Tukel even addresses his own personal ambitions of becoming an auteur in a fourth wall-flattening, neurosis driven monologue that adds some indie self-awareness to the script.
The film ends on a note borrowed from another film about a wandering existentialist , Eyes Wide Shut, the difference being that after a few sessions of debauchery Tom Cruise’s character seems to take a caution from his journey and it is clear here that Erik the vampire is consistent in his immaturity and has learned nothing, which in the end makes the character more likeable.
Spinning a novel idea off in interesting directions, the hard work of the low-budget filmmakers is evident in frame, and it is in its ambition, metaphors and genre scenes that the film sometimes works. The protagonist is reminiscent of Jon Favreau’s loathable and yet oddly still likeable turn in Swingers and Onur Tukel’s comic wit can both charm and grate in equal measure,which we suspect is the writer/director.actor’s intention all along. An unconventional take on some very familiar themes Summer Of Blood occasionally confounds but often delights.