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MOVIE REVIEW : 'Blood Salvage' Is Not Worth Saving

September 14, 1990|MICHAEL WILMINGTON

Never underestimate the artistic potential of a Z-budget, tasteless, overviolent horror movie. You could be watching something like the Sam Raimi-Coen brothers' "Evil Dead." On the other hand, you could be watching "Blood Salvage" (selected theaters).

In this lame try at a gross-out programmer, three fanatic or cretinous backwoods buffoons, kidnap a bland yuppie Georgia family, the Evanses, and torture them for a day or two. The buffoons have something on their mind besides sadism--though the filmmakers don't seem to.

Jake "Diddy" Pruitt (Danny Nelson), and sons--Hiram (Christian Hesler), the unkempt creep, and Roy (Ralph Pruitt Vaughn), the fat dunderhead--run a salvage yard in the red clay forests and, sub rosa, an organ transplant bank in the barn. There, waylaid passengers are strapped to life-support systems and stowed in the burbling dark, where they moan in unison, until Ray Walston, as a fey doctor, hauls away another kidney or two.

The movie's "New South" social implications are interesting: a vision of slick yuppies tortured by lower-class boors who dress improperly and drool, citing biblical scripture to justify their depravities. In addition to his transplant fixation, "Diddy" Pruitt has an unholy lech for the Evans daughter, April (Lori Birdsong) while filmmakers Tucker Johnston (writer-director) and Ken C. Sanders (writer-producer) seem obsessed with "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"--whose whacko raffishness they miss completely.

"Blood Salvage" (MPAA rated R) is shot in an overslick style, empty of any overtones or undercurrents. It's laced with TV-porn shots where Birdsong--distinctly unsympathetic despite her predicament--wakes up to find her bra unhooked, while synthesizers groan and her buffoon-captors howl.

To call the film's violence unpleasant is an overstatement. Its non-violence is unpleasant, too. The film's executive producer is boxer Evander Holyfield: KOd in his first cinematic outing. Also present, hooked up to another life-support system, is that occasionally intense actor, John Saxon. Both would have better off if the plug had been pulled right after "Blood Salvage's" opening credits.


A Paragon Arts International release of a Ken C. Sanders/High Five Production. Producers Martin J. Fischer, Ken C. Sanders. Director Tucker Johnston. Script Sanders, Johnston. Camera Michael Karp. Editor Jacquie Freeman Ross. Production design Robert Sissman. Music Tim Temple. With Danny Nelson, Lori Birdsong, John Saxon, Ray Walston, Christian Hesler, Ralph Pruitt Vaughn.

Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes.

MPAA rating: R (Violence, language, underwear.).

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