Film Reviews:

Addicted to Murder: Tainted Blood

aka Addicted to Murder 2

(Kevin J. Lindenmuth, US, 1998)

The irrepressible Kevin J. (don't forget that 'J') Lindenmuth turns in a sequel to his 1995 modern vampire film. Lindenmuth directs straight-to-video films that have entire budgets that wouldn't keep any one of Hollywood's stars in make up for a month. So it's always remarkable that he manages to achieve what he does, and in many ways this sequel improves over its predecessor. Particularly on the technical production side of things. The exterior photography is remarkably bright and has a sharp picture quality. Perhaps he has been making a good enough profit in recent years to invest in some new equipment? But it isn't just the visuals. Sound too is better then ever before. There still a lot of ambient background noise that those who are used to a (very unhealthy) diet of big budget Hollywood movies might find distracting, but the character dialogue is clear (again, better hardware maybe?) even when it isn't dubbed.

Written by Lindenmuth, Addicted to Murder: Tainted Blood has a stronger narrative structure than much of the writer/director's earlier films. Featuring some of the same characters as Addicted to Murder, this sequel concentrates on a careless rogue female vampire who is leaving a messy and all-to-clear trail of victims in her wake. The victims then rise as undead serial killers, creating even more mayhem. Her actions dangerously expose the underground vampire cult based in New York to the authorities and her peers, including the two Karnstein vampire sisters decide enough is enough and set out to put a stop to her carnage. The predominantly female lead cast is also a refreshing change (something which has been carried over from the first film) and most of the supporting cast are much better than you might expect. A special nod here to Bobbi Ashton who has a brief role as a hitchhiker - a convincing actress even on the limited exposure we get here. The gothic music on the soundtrack is used to good effect, even if the oh-so-predictable name of Alucarda appears in the credits.

The vampire attacks are mostly a quick flash of fangs and some sloppy and icky throat-ripping sound effects with minimal blood on screen. There are a few brief body-chomping moments that are more cheesy than unpleasant. In keeping with this style, schlock horror director of The Corpse Grinders, Ted V. Mikels, appears throughout in a number of inserted to-camera pieces as a 'vampire expert', sharing his wisdom on how vampires really are and not as portrayed in the cinema. Sometime creative collaborator, Mick McCleery also reprises his role from the first film and is seen making his way to NYC tracking down the vampires once again. Fortunately, his scenes are brief and few for he is a poor actor and one who Lindenmuth, putting friendships aside, should keep behind the camera instead of in front of it. The underlying idea of updating the vampire myth to turn them into a cult of serial killers praying on the social underclasses and vulnerable suits the modern day New York setting. I particularly liked the idea of the female vampire who places lonely hearts ads to attract potential victims. You can help wondering what kinds of people are placing some of those classified ads. Addicted to Murder: Tained Blood suggest a horrific and entertaining answer.

Rob Dyer

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