The cost of fueling a car is truly murderous in "Blood Car," an amusing Atlanta-shot horror-comedy that topically updates Corman classics "Bucket of Blood" and "Little Shop of Horrors."

The cost of fueling a car is truly murderous in “Blood Car,” an amusing Atlanta-shot horror-comedy that topically updates Corman classics “Bucket of Blood” and “Little Shop of Horrors.” As in those pics, a mild-mannered protagonist ends up luring many to their deaths to sustain something he’d be better off without — in this case, his wheels, which can run on human hemoglobin. One-joke pic runs out of (ahem) gas in its last lap, and is too marginal for extensive travel. But it’s still frequently hilarious enough to win a following via midnight fest slots, DVD release and possible rep-house dates.

In the near future, gas hits $32 per gallon, so hardly anyone drives anymore. Not only a vegan, twentysomething kindergarten teacher Archie (Mike Brune) is so p.c. he reads his students books like “Tibet: The Land That Cried,” and in his spare time hopes to invent an eco-friendly new fuel. Experiments fail until he accidentally cuts himself, the blood drops unexpectedly sending toy engine into overdrive. Tapping his own veins for more, he gets his long-unused car revving.

This attracts sexpot Denise (Katie Rowlett), who operates the meat stand opposite the veggie stand Archie frequents. He’s indifferent to the obvious romantic overtures from latter’s proprietress, Lorraine (Anna Chlumsky), but Denise’s thirst for alcohol, barbecue and kinky sex awakens a dormant wild streak in Archie. Trouble is, she finds him doable only so long as he can drive her around.

Archie is a skinny guy without much blood to spare. After tearfully experimenting with slain pets (which doesn’t work), he rigs up an automotive slicer/dicer and trolls for human prey. First it’s dead people, then criminals, then anybody he can push into the lethal trunk. His sanity unravels en route.

As its title admits, “Blood Car” is conceptually on the primitive side. What lifts it above most low-budget horror comedies (Troma-tized or not) is the loopy, off-kilter humor director/co-scenarist Alex Orr and collaborators bring to the table. There’s something charming about the feature even at its most cheerfully tasteless, abetted by in-synch perfs and color-bright lensing.

Slim runtime feels a bit overextended, particularly when a would-be “subversive” epilogue hammers home the already obvious commentary on America’s thirst for oil. Still, pic overall will strike psychotronic film fans as quite fresh and funny.

Blood Car

Production

A Fake Wood Wallpaper production. Produced by Jon Swindell, Tony Holley, Chris Antignane, Chris Campbell, Adam Pinney, Alex Orr. Directed by Alex Orr. Screenplay, Adam Pinney, Orr, based on a story by Hugh Braselton, Orr, Pinney.

Crew

Camera (color, Sony HD cam), Pinney, Chris Campbell; editors, Jon Swindall, Pinney; production designer, Robert Paraguassu; music, Brian Slusher; sound, Mike Clark; assistant director, Tony Holley; casting, Mollie Brock. Reviewed at Cinequest Film Festival, San Jose, March 2, 2007. Running time: 76 MIN.

With

Mike Brune, Anna Chlumsky, Katie Rowlett, Mada Malcolm, Mr. Malt, Matt Hutchinson, Jonathan Green, Matt Stanton, Bill Szymanski, Vince Canlas, Hawmi Guillebeaux.

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