The Peppercorn Journal



Sometimes, a movie is so nearly perfect that its flaws stand out more than they would in a less skillfully-made film. These near-masterpieces come so close to being forever cemented in film history that it is a tragedy to see them fall short because of one or two minor missteps in execution. One such film is the recently released seventh sequel in the “Blood Bite” series, the economically named “Blood Bite VIII”. Diego Darkcanyon (Dirk Dierkus, in his third appearance as the character) returns for some bloody fun, but I couldn’t help thinking as I sat in the nearly empty theater that, with a few tweaks, this could have elevated the sagging series well beyond the scope of its origins.

Here are some changes that could be made:

The Plot: What is happening in this movie? In scene one, we meet three characters, two of whom are listening to the third literally read an entire chapter out of the novelization of the film “Alien.” These characters never return, and it is after this ten-minute opener that we are finally introduced to, not Diego, but a different male lead named John-Ray Limbree. By scene five, John-Ray is dead, and, I kid you not, this now becomes a police procedural for the next forty-five minutes. Diego does show up, finally, as a shifty-eyed perp in a police line-up. Eventually, he breaks out of county lock-up, werewolf-style, with the help of Lucy, his girlfriend whom we have not see for four films. Her explanation? “Traffic.”

I won’t spoil the rest, but there are aliens, psychotic truck drivers, the EPA, and a country line-dancing scene in which the audience is asked to join in and learn the dance. My suggestion? Why not a different plot? Or just one plot?

Special Effects: We see no less than seventeen werewolf transformations, which would be understandable if the filmmakers had some incredible effects to show off. Instead we watch Diego Darkcanyon (Dirk Dierkus in a wolf costume that could be described as “dollar store”) burst out a papier mache likeness of his human form. And here’s the thing: they don’t repair the papier mache or have extra props, it seems, so it becomes more and more trashed until, finally, at transformation fifteen, it is a mound of paper. They trade it out for the last couple transformations with what looks like a life-size Dora the Explorer facsimile, likely stolen from a small town’s Fourth of July parade. The final transformation, though, is my favorite, in which Diego first transforms into the werewolf, then into Dora the Explorer, then into John-Ray, then back into Diego. So Diego was John-Ray the entire time, which is neither explained or important to the plot.

Acting: Dirk Dierkus’s best role to date is as a dead body in “Murder City: Streets of Murder”, and he manages to mess that one up by breathing like he just ran a marathon. Also, the actress who played Lucy is not an actress at all, but a mannequin. You can tell because everything is shot from behind, she has a weird line in her neck, and you can see a hand manipulating her head every time she turns to look at Diego. The only good actor in the film is one of the two men listening to the reading of “Alien” in the beginning, because he manages to look interested throughout the entire thing. The other one falls asleep two minutes in.

The Script: This is a real line from the film. “We may be aliens to you, but to us, you are the aliens. For you see, an alien is one who belongs to a foreign country or nation, which is what you are to us.” At least the writers (there are ten credited writers) did their research, because that is, word for word, the Google dictionary definition of “alien”.

Everything: What would really make this movie great is if it was a different movie. Literally, any other movie. Literally, “Baby Geniuses 2”. Literally, a live birth. Literally, a black screen.

Sadly, without these changes, this film will be relegated, like so many others, to the forgotten dirt heap of cinema. But you have to respect the heart that went into it. Four stars.

Pingree Bollwray, The Peppercorn Journal