WARNING! SPOILERS CONTAINED WITHIN! WARNING!
Bad Blood’s director Tim Reis and producer/FX artist James Sizemore previously wore many hats on 2013’s The Demon’s Rook, for that flick Sizemore was the director and Reis was the producer. Both co-own Black Rider Productions and this is their second feature flick! The Demon’s Rook was about demons, demonic influence and zombies, for Bad Blood: The Movie science fiction/horror is where they planted their bloody flag this time around, and it’s the first movie ever made about, wait for it, wait for it . . . werefrogs!
According to the press materials sent my way it actually started out as a werewolf movie, but as they accessed their budget they realized they just didn’t have the capital to go the lycanthrope route, so they decided to go the lithothrope (the genus all American bullfrogs are cataloged under, lithobates) one instead. Odd were-animals is nothing new, there’s werepanthers, weretigers, wereboars, werebears and even wererats. As I write this the second season of Stan Against Evil will feature a “werepony!” That ought to be interesting. In Bad Blood Dr. Beltran (Kevin Galbraith) and his assistant (Vikas Adam) were involved in experiments that were supposed to help mankind, but somewhere along the way they resulted in both of them becoming “werefrogs.” The particulars of these experiments is never fully explained, just know at some point they decided to use themselves as guinea pigs. Beltran’s assistant is only known as the Attendant in the end credits, and runs a gas station on the outskirts of nowhere. This area has had a lot of disappearances that seem to revolve around it. Beltran was eventually arrested and convicted of some murders and as the movie starts he’s escaped prison, but not as himself, as werefrog persona. His assistant has been working on a cure for a while, and they have one, just not a permanent one, and since their transformations are in line with the lunar cycle, he has to dose himself with it on a regular basis.
The crux of this flick is a family drama proving once again step families just don’t work. Nineteen-year old Victoria Miller (Mary Miller) is home from college and unsure if she’ll ever return. It’s clear she does not get along with her stepfather, Wade Worthington (Brian Troxell), or his little son, Wade jr. (Grayson Kilpatrick). The kid even rats her out at one point. Her mother, Lillian (Tomi Lavender), is a good person, she has bad taste in men apparently.
Victoria picks the worst night to rebel and she and her friend, Kelly (Chelsea Howard), end up getting gas at that aforementioned station right as transformed Beltran enters the picture. These werefrogs delight in ripping off heads (you get one on-screen decapitation, and two after the fact, as in one is seen on the ground and one falls into sight); poor Kelly loses hers and Victoria almost loses her noggin’ before Beltran’s assistant tranquilizes him. The damage is already done, though, Victoria has been messed up real bad by this Lovecraftian science project and in a scene that pays homage to An American Werewolf In London (1981), the shot after David Kessler (David Naughton) has been bitten on the moors and is laying on the ground when he turns his head and instead of seeing a wolf, sees a dead man gazing at him. After Victoria is clawed viciously about the neck, she looks over and instead of seeing a werefrog, she sees a tranquilized Beltran looking at her.
A month goes by, and for all intents and purposes Lillian’s daughter is now an official missing person’s case, so is her friend, Chelsea. Incidentally, Chelsea’s head kept in a jar in a make-shift lab in the basement of the gas station. Why? The movie never tells, but it’s safe to assume Beltran’s assistant cleaned up the scene, like he’s done with all the others. Enter the oddest character of the movie, which is ironic, I know, but he really is. Lillian and Wade hire a private dick by the name of Paul Stensland (Troy Halverson), who, well, I’ll just come out and say it, may be mentally ill. When someone irritates him he goes into these fantasies of killing that person right then and there. We get more than a few of these, until he finally does what he fantasized. Actually, he doesn’t kill the person, just shoves a needle up his nose, which, surprisingly, given the length of it, doesn’t kill the dude.
Flashbacks reveal what happened to Victoria right after she and Beltran were dragged away, and she’s been living in the woods for the past month so Beltran’s assistant can monitor her before the next lunar cycle. Stensland is responsible for finally bringing her home. Once home abusive family dynamics rear up that ultimately result in Victoria being locked in her room without her cure. The moon comes out, she turns into a werefrog, and then massacres her whole family, even little Wade, jr, who manages to make it down the street on his bike before transformed Vicki catches him and guts him on the spot.
I was hoping for a really bleak end and it almost looked like I was going to get that as Victoria decides the only way to stop this cycle is to put a bullet in Beltran’s assistant’s head and then hers, but Stensland’s unexpected flare-up of life on the floor shows them they can keep living the werefrog lifestyle as long as they have that temporary cure. That frog on the poster up there also figures into the plot. There’s this humongous bullfrog in a container (believable FX supplied by Sizemore) that’s routinely experimented on. At the end it finally reverts to a normal frog size, revealing they may have found a permanent cure.
Sizemore’s FX for the werefrog is great looking (see the slideshow below) and all the gore in the movie is rendered realistically as well.
I really liked this movie, and I’m looking forward to more from Sizemore and Reis. This is not a DVD review, for it hasn’t gotten a disc release yet, but it’ll be playing at limited theaters and hitting On Demand on October 13th. When it does hit disc, and I can get a review copy, this review will be updated.