Bloodrunners is an unusual horror film that takes place just before the end of Prohibition, in a town with a corrupt police force, a brothel, and a speakeasy that is run by vampires. A title card at the beginning tells us: “Average citizens break the law, live in the shadows. People are not what they seem.” A perfect setting for a vampire film, no? And as the title is a play on the word rumrunners, you have a pretty good idea of what they’re up to at that speakeasy.
The film begins with some good jazz music played at the club, and there is Ice-T as the band’s leader. It looks like he’s almost smiling, something I’ve never seen before. Perhaps it’s a trick of the light. But no, Ice-T is smiling, and his performance as Chesterfield, the owner of the club, is one of the best I’ve ever seen from him. Joining him are Michael McFadden as Jack, a corrupt police officer with a rough past, and Peter Patrikios as Victor, the face of the club. Early on, we see that Chesterfield is not someone to be messed with, as he has a collection of fingers, and keeps them in a nice box. Hey, everyone needs a hobby.
Meanwhile at the brothel, a stranger who calls himself George Washington arrives and asks the madam, Rosie (Kerry McGann), if he can enter, and she of course invites him in. A close-up of his foot crossing the threshold warns us that he is probably a vampire. This also tells us this film is going to use the traditional vampire elements and attributes. And while Jack speaks with Rosie downstairs, Mr. Washington engages in some vampire behavior with Violet upstairs. It’s not long before Violet begins acting differently, and the tension begins building. Then, when the police stage a roadblock to stop a shipment of alcohol, they discover something odd about the bottles’ contents. And that’s when things really start getting weird.
The film has an unusual and interesting tone. It’s kind of playful without drifting into comedy, but with hints of something sinister beneath. It’s scary, while rarely gory. And there is also a love story here as well, between Willie (Chris James Boylan), a young man who just landed a job at the speakeasy, and Anna (Airen DeLaMater), Rosie’s daughter. These are the story’s two most likeable characters, the people you’ll likely find yourselves identifying with and rooting for. Bloodrunners is actually a quite enjoyable and original vampire film, with plenty of nice touches. There are also little references to other vampire stories. For example, at one point Jack reminds Rosie of how she used to call him “From Dusk ‘Til Dawn.” And we learn that Victor’s last name is Renfield, which of course is a reference to Dracula.
And be sure to watch the end credits, for there is another short scene there.
This package contains several special features, which are on both the Blu-ray and DVD. There is a commentary track by director Dan Lantz and cast member Michael McFadden. They talk about the importance of details when shooting a period piece. They talk about the locations, including an old farm house which became the brothel. They actually shot a lot of the film in an empty store, which is wild. The film was shot almost entirely in Pennsylvania. Dan Lantz offers some tips for independent filmmakers.
There also a few deleted and extended scenes, including an alternate opening and a scene where Jack and Sam talk a bit about the political landscape of the time. The special features include a five-minute blooper reel and the film’s trailer.
Bloodrunners was directed by Dan Lantz, and was released as a two-disc Blu-ray/DVD combination package on March 7, 2017.