Troma veteran Onur Tukel’s 2014 vampire sex comedy Summer of Blood is a bizarre mix of horror and dark humor with a main character that will test your patience. The film centers on the selfish and annoying Erik whose commitment phobia and leech attitude lands him without a girlfriend and the ability to survive daylight. The Blu-ray from Factory 25 provides a solid A/V package coupled with a slew of special features for fans of the film. Recommended.
“Jody, babies are worthless”
Cynical NYC schlub Erik (Onur Tukel, Applesauce) is a 40-year-old troll shirking responsibilities with a bizarre charm that keeps his longtime girlfriend Jody (Anna Margaret Hollyman, Sleeping with Other People) reluctantly at his side. When he dodges her marriage proposal she’s had it and falls for a handsome and successful long-lost friend named Jason. Erik’s attempts at winning her back fail miserably but his jaded persona doesn’t care as she always comes back to him eventually.
On the verge of unemployment, Erik swallows his pride and goes on a series of online dates. When one of the women calls him on his bullshit he swings too far the other way on the next hoping to impress bubbly Blake (Melodie Sisk, The Ladies of the House) with his woke optimism. When his robotic sex doesn’t impress her he moves on to another woman who disagrees with his stance on Tyler Perry’s achievements. After his last date, he finds himself staring up at the Brooklyn Bridge when a stranger asks him if he’s afraid to die. Erik isn’t shy and reveals, “I don’t care if I die or not. I think it would alleviate a lot of responsibilities.”
Erik’s turn into a vampire provides the usual tropes of the genre but far funnier given his unfiltered personality. He can’t keep down human food, even the terrible chicken from a food cart that no human even likes. His reaction to sunlight is hiding under the covers and shouting “Global warming sucks!” But best of all his abilities in the bedroom are enhanced greatly giving the women in his life a better second date with him.
While all these changes occur Erik remains the same jaded and offensive character. He eventually realizes that his selfishness has become worse since turning. Searching for meaning and acknowledging his emptiness, he opens up to the vamp who turned him. Erik’s shallowness has become an existential crisis now that having a normal life is unattainable. Even a semi-desperate prayer ends with the self-aware zinger, “Ask and ye shall receive sounds pretty selfish to me, God”.
Summer of Blood, like its main character, has this weird charm about it that is both revolting and engaging. Tukel uses sustained scenes of dialogue to help develop Erik whether he’s gnawing on the neck of a high school dropout or dealing with the fallout of his relationship with Jody. While some of these monologues key in on his social awkwardness and motivations they can test your patience with the character. Thankfully there is enough blood, gore, and vampire sex to keep the proceedings moving along. Here is where Tukel shines as a director keeping the docu-drama style in check with spurts of audacious dialogue and chuckle-worthy bits of genre weirdness. My favorite line occurs when Erik’s boss sees him in the office covered in blood and says, “Well you look like Godzilla used your shirt as a Maxi-Pad.”
Tukel’s amusing horror comedy serves its sustained witty diatribes on a What We Do In the Shadows-themed plate topped with heaps of arterial blood spurts. From start to finish the feature is amusing but never hilariously funny which keeps the proceedings focused on Erik’s non-stop dialogue rants and his ability to fall into situations once his taste for blood appears. As a commentary on commitment phobias and the growing tide of horror subgenres, it makes its case well without standing out in the crowd. Frankly for someone like Erik standing out is never the issue.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Summer of Blood arrives on Region Free Blu-ray thanks to Factory 25. The disc is housed in a transparent keepcase with reversible artwork and an insert booklet. Loading the disc presents the Factory 25 logo before landing on the Main Menu screen with a scene from the film playing behind typical navigation options.
Factory 25’s Blu-ray of Summer of Blood presents the film in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio in 1080p. The HD image is naturalistic in texture offering pronounced detail. Color saturation is low with primaries subdued giving the color palette a dream-like appearance. This HD image isn’t razor sharp by any means but the occasional softness that pervades the presentation allows the comedy/fantasy element to infect the audience without making the proceedings too seriously.
Interiors are often dark but thankfully offer some detail in set design and background action. Utilizing handheld shots the film appears like a docu-comedy however the constant change in focus points becomes distracting. Street lights cast a yellow tint on nighttime scenes giving an otherworldly patina to Erik’s sidewalk shuffling. Overall a pleasing image presentation given the film's genre trappings and oddball comedy aesthetic.
Summer of Blood was previously released by the Australian genre label Monster Pictures in 2014 on a Region 4 DVD and Region B Blu-ray. While there is no indication that the transfers are different between the two Blu-ray discs those with the DVD should upgrade to this edition from Factory 25.
Summer of Blood arrives on Blu-ray with a solid DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track. Center and front channels confidently handle the bulk of the work in this dialogue heavy feature. Atmospherics and scoring elements find a comfortable home in the surrounds. LFE is round and consistent without overpowering the mix offering low end textures to ominous scoring cues.
Factory 25 provides two commentary tracks from the director and two interesting interview segments worth checking out after the feature. Start with Tukel’s 2014 commentary track first as it is both highly entertaining and informative. Those with the Monster Pictures DVD or Blu-ray will find many of these special features were ported over from that release.
Sumer of Blood is an absording vampire sex comedy with an unlikeable character dodging commitments while dealing with his own mortality. Equal parts bloody horror and goofy comedy the film expertly balances these two elements resulting in a bizarre combination that works in the end. Factory 25’s Blu-ray provides a solid A/V package with a slew of special features for fans of the film. Recommended.