Bloodhead

Working on a larger scale than usual, Christopher Coppola cooks up an idiosyncratic dish in "Bloodhead" aka "The Curse of Bloodhead," which pays tribute to drive-in monster flicks, '70s TV icons, and whatever else came to mind. Pic's humor skews somewhere left of genre-parodying centerfield, which may make it too unclassifiable and low-key for theatrical distribs to grasp.

With:
Lynette - Lynda Carter Jackson - Andre Marcus Charlotte Burnell - Shirley Jones Percy - Bernie Kopell Donnie Daniels - Andre Ware Doug McCoy - Steve "Chickenbone" Hedden Burdus - Frank Gorshin

Working on a slightly larger scale than usual, Christopher Coppola cooks up a typically idiosyncratic dish in “Bloodhead” aka “The Curse of Bloodhead,” which pays waggish tribute to drive-in monster flicks, ’70s TV icons, and whatever else came to mind. Amiable pic’s shaggy humor generally skews somewhere left of genre-parodying centerfield, which may make it too unclassifiable and low-key for theatrical distribs to grasp. (Recent hardtop fizzle of another indie retro satire, “The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra,” might also factor in.) But taken on its own quirky terms, feature is certainly amusing and polished enough to attract ancillary marketeers.

Though certain aspects suggest current time-period setting, myriad others recall the Me Decade — from casting/decor choices to echoes of that era’s pics (e.g. “Gargoyles,” “Pray for the Wildcats,” “Race With the Devil” etc.) and their sometimes exploitative take on racial conflict. (Camp classic Ray Milland/Rosey Grier co-starrer “The Thing With Two Heads” definitely hovers over the proceedings.)

Owner of an Afrocentric cafe, Donnie Daniels (Andre Ware) receives a mysterious letter from the mother he never knew, informing him she’s probably already dead and that he should come to a remote Mohave Desert burg to claim his trailer-park-land inheritance. Receiving the same missive at the same time is angry white redneck Doug McCoy (Steve Hedden).

Meeting for the first time in mom’s godforsaken place of death, Whiterocks Valley, the two men are antagonistic, refusing to believe they’re related. It takes a while before videotape evidence convinces the two macho bruisers they might indeed be blood brothers.

Meanwhile, things are getting strange. Our heroes find their vehicles suddenly inoperable; giddy bachelorette-of-a-certain-age Lynette (Lynda Carter) thrusts her considerable libido at both; a strange boy (Andre Marcus) requires their caretaking. Elderly local citizens seem entirely too smug, while younger ones attempt to flee at their own lethal peril — a brain-eating, flying-gila-monster-type thang leaves no potential escapee intact. The brothers’ lumbering bigness, and the slapstick destruction of property their fights invariably wreak is the primary running joke. But there are plenty of other funny bits, notably erstwhile “Mrs. Partridge Family” Shirley Jones’ appearances as a pushy Ghost Mom. As is usual with this Coppola, big laughs are less frequent than in-jokey chuckles that will tickle those schooled in pop culture of the last three decades. Climax could be rather more climactic, but is in character with sly preceding reels.

Ware and screen newcomer Hedden make for boisterous company, rendering racial prejudice in agreeably cartoonish terms. Among the support scroll, “Love Boat” regular Bernie Kopell, onetime TV “Wonder Woman” Carter and original small-screen “Batman” Riddler Frank Gorshin (as a seemingly harmless blind trailer-park denizen) stand out as particularly relishing their opportunity to get down ‘n’ campy. When Hedden and Carter attend a drive-in, we get delightful “excerpts” from a supposed B&W regional horror called “Texas Vampire Massacre.” High-def-shot pic looked very good projected in 35mm at the San Francisco Horror Festival.

Onscreen title is plain “Bloodhead,” though pic has been billed as “The Curse of Bloodhead” in fest programs; Coppola noted at the screening attended it may well undergo another change, with “The Creature of Sunnyside Trailer Park” a frontrunner.

Bloodhead

Production: A DigiFlicks Intl. and Plastic City production. Produced by Christopher Coppola, Alain Silver. Executive producers, Elyse Meredith, Wayne Kurzeja. Directed by Christopher Coppola. Screenplay, Adrienne Stout-Coppola.

Crew: Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Andrew Giannetta; editor, Coppola, Bob Gordon; music, Ernest Troost; music supervisor, Steve Goldman; production designer, Rando Schmook; art director, Norman Merrill; set decorator, Lisa Robinson; creature FX, Sean Taylor, Todd Masters; sound, John Taylor; assistant directors, Evelyn Belasco, Leslie Perlow, Tanya Mayeux; casting, Gennette Tondino, Ted Warren. Reviewed at San Francisco Horror Fest, March 20, 2004. Running time: 105 MIN.

With: Lynette - Lynda Carter Jackson - Andre Marcus Charlotte Burnell - Shirley Jones Percy - Bernie Kopell Donnie Daniels - Andre Ware Doug McCoy - Steve "Chickenbone" Hedden Burdus - Frank Gorshin

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