BLOOD SALVAGE (1990) – The Dungeon Review!
Blood Salvage doesn’t exactly turn the redneck killer shtick on its head, but it does offer a few unique tidbits. Jake Pruitt, the film’s central baddie, is somewhat of an evil mastermind. Okay, mastermind is a bit strong, but he ain’t stupid and he is quite congenial. Blood Salvage is a peculiar mix of nasty, cruel, bizarrely funny, and completely ridiculous. I am surprised I never heard of Blood Salvage before this viewing. It clearly didn’t have a huge budget but they managed to lure John Saxon and Ray Walston. There is also an odd little cameo featuring boxer Evander Holyfield, who I noticed was also listed as executive producer.
A car is run off the road and as luck would have it a tow truck is right behind. It is no accident of course. Hiram runs them off the road and his dad Jake tows them back to the family salvage yard. Jake has a particular obsession with a wheelchair-bound beauty pageant contestant by the name of April Evans. His muse is travelling with her family in a motorhome on her way to a nearby town to attend a pageant. Jake Pruitt has had all manner of “guests” at the old salvage yard but wheelchair-bound April will prove to be more of a challenge than he could have imagined. If she only understood he just wants to help her!
After being left alone for a spell April decides it might be a good idea to arm herself. Jake does eventually come out and attempts to convince her to come out of the motorhome. “Send my mom out!” She starts shooting at the place to let them know she is serious. They do get her out of the motorhome…eventually.
This is Jake’s son Hiram. He is a mean, sneaky bastard who believes all women are whores and takes a little too much joy from helping pop with his “work” especially the part where he runs folks off the road. He is not the sharpest tool in the box but he is Einstein compared to his brother.
What is it that Jake does with the people Hiram runs off the road? A little amateur surgery! There is even a story behind why he took up the lucrative hobby. He is a god-fearing, preaching pseudo-surgeon! You better hope they need your brain or heart because if they remove something you can live without, he keeps you alive! Furthermore, when Jake asks for an AMEN! You best give him an AMEN Sisters and brothers! There is an awkward mix of violence and humour and although some of it definitely gave me a laugh it was a bit sporadic. Pacing is the film’s more significant issue. They could have easily shaved 15 minutes from the runtime. That alone would have made the pace jauntier. This sucker really did drag at times. Some scenes are painfully long. I am sure they were going for suspense but I would have traded the suspense for laughs and gore. They are selling it as a horror-comedy after all. I’ll give them this; they sure do make Lori Birdsong who played April earn her paycheck! She has many scenes where she is forced to drag her body along the floor for extended periods of time.
There is nasty business going on in this salvage yard and that surgical area did not look very hygienic to me. The scenes in the surgery garage were a lot darker than the rest of the film but there wasn’t much for graphic violence really. Most of the organ removals are done off screen. The surgery garage was still pretty creepy just the same. There were a couple moments that surprised me and one in particular was kind of nasty! As grim as the surgery garage was this is also where the best laughs came from. It was amusing seeing these horribly abused patients answering Jake’s Amens! Well, I suppose that might depend on your sense of humour. Would it sweeten the deal if I told you one of them was an Elvis impersonator?
Blood Salvage had an outrageous premise that was ripe for a horror-comedy. A good horror-comedy really should have a spicier pace which was hurt by the film’s unnecessarily long suspense segments. Just the same there were laughs to be had. The performances are actually not bad. I was particularly fond of Danny Nelson who played Jake Pruitt or Mad Jake as he is called in the film’s alternate title. He is definitely mad! John Saxon was also good as Clifford Evans. I have to admit I found the April character bitchy and not terribly likable but she grew on me by the end of the film. Lori Birdsong does a good job; and as I mentioned previously she certainly earns her paycheck with all that dragging herself around business. The finale is coo-coo and the trio of twists at the end was dumb but mildly amusing. The rousing Soul-Cleansing Blood of the Lamb sung by Jake and his two sons over the final credits is practically worth watching Blood Salvage for! I kind of gotta kick out of Blood Salvage, some serious tightening up in editing would have benefitted the film greatly, but it is certainly not without its memorable moments. Blood Salvage is lightly recommended.
Dungeon Rating: 3/5
Directed By: Tucker Johnston
Starring: Danny Nelson, Lori Birdsong, Christian Hesler, Ralph Pruitt Vaughn, John Saxon, Laura Whyte, Ray Walston, Andy Greenway, Dan Albright