Paul Morrissey’s “Mixed Blood” remembers New York City at its roughest, depicting an underage drug war every bit as brutal (if not necessarily as stylish) as “City of God.” Gothamites who bemoan the city’s ongoing gentrification need only revisit this 1985 indie for a change of heart. Conceived as comic satire, pic’s graphic depiction of violence and addiction may not faze viewers today, but as a historical snapshot, it’s staggering — especially as time has blurred the line between Morrissey’s sense of dramatic exaggeration and his verite style. On DVD, the effect is enhanced by a 25-minute slideshow narrated by Morrissey.
“Nobody was making films with Hispanics in those days,” says the helmer, whose largely unprofessional cast reflects a “stew of every nationality that I could find.” At the film’s center, Brazilian Marilia Pera (“Pixote”) stars as ghetto godmother Rita La Punta, who marshals a brood of 14-year-old foot soldiers in a high-casualty turf war with a rival gang.
Shooting on location in enter-at-your-own-risk corners of Alphabet City, Morrissey exploits details from news reports of the time. While cops look the other way, addicts line up round the block to buy drugs from an ATM-like hole in the wall of an abandoned building — no doubt the future home of a Starbucks Coffee.