The VelociPastor
 

The VelociPastor

 
Beyond Horror
 

Beyond Horror

The History & Sub Culture of Red Films

 
The Sideling Hill
 

The Sideling Hill

 

Blood Salvage (1990)

Blood Salvage (1990)
A Review by: Pathetic Waste

Directed by: Tucker Johnston
Written by: Tucker Johnston and Ken Sanders
Starring: Danny Nelson, Lori Birdsong, John Saxon and Ray Walston

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Plot: Jake Pruitt and his boys run a lucrative parts business out of their auto salvage yard, but it ain’t just auto parts they’re dealing! You see, ol’ Jake devised a way to sustain a human life while removing vital organs, one by one, for sale to a demented medical broker (Ray Walston). When Mr. Evans (John Saxon) and his family experience a little engine trouble while on vacation, Jake falls head over heels for the beautiful blonde daughter, April. Will Jake steal her heart?

Blood Salvage is a little obscure horror comedy from 1990. The film is widely unknown for a number of reasons. Originally released on VHS and Laserdisc via Magnum Entertainment, it has not since seen a proper re-release. No DVD and certainly no Blu-Ray. Yes, yes bootlegs are available but only hardcore fans are going to discover a film that way. Today, I sat down with the picture for the first time in years. Here are my thoughts after re-watching:

We open up, with a pretty creepy intro. Various gears grinding away, in close-up, while the main credits roll. Tim Timple’s eerie score laid over the footage. After the credits, we cut to a young man and his girlfriend driving down a dark highway. They are soon run off the road by a mysterious car. Luckily, or unluckily, a tow man is there to save the day. He hooks them up and tows them back to his salvage yard. This is where we are introduced to Jake Pruitt. A religious tow-truck driving nut and father of two bumbling idiots, Roy and Hiram.

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We now go to the Stonewall County Peach Festival, a local carnival, where a beauty pageant is taking place. Roy and Jake attend. This is where we are introduced to the Evans. An all-American, apple pie, family of four. Clifford, played by veteran genre actor John Saxon, the father. Pat, the mother. Bobby, the son. And a wheel-cheer bound beauty queen, April, the daughter. April appears in the pageant and Jake creepily keeps his eyes fixated on her the entire time. We can tell she is picking up on the weird vibes.

Outside Hiram, is disassembling the family’s RV. So even early on in the film, we know the Pruitts are some sick fucks. Unfortunately, April the crippled teenager does not win the pageant. Sulking in her defeat the family decides to hit the road. Due to tampering by Hiram, the family breaks down while on their way home. Jake is right behind them and offers to take them to the salvage yard and work on their car. The family obliges, although April is weary of the situation.

Once they get back to the salvage yard, this is when the madness begins. One by one the Pruitts take out the Evans, until April is the only one left in the RV. Through a series of events we come to find that Jake and company sell human organs to a doctor, played by character actor Ray Walston. The southern town is also in on the deal, including the police. Jake and his sons, put April through hell over the next forty minutes until we reach our climax.

Blood Salvage is an odd film. Caught between what would be the late 80’s and early 90’s of the genre. The premise is a bit out there. The tow-truck central plot line is similar to Jim Van Bebber’s Chunk Blower, had that ever got turned into a feature. The movie is a horror-comedy, peppered with some classic Hixsploitation. The usual city-slickers against the rednecks sub-plot. The story can be a bit dis-jointed at times, but that doesn’t make for a totally un-enjoyable watch. Another thing, I have to give credit for, is the movie can be pretty mean-spirited. Our main heroine is in a wheel-chair and her handicap is used to offend, and used against her, in almost every way possible. Director Tucker Johnston wasn’t afraid to offend a few people. Speaking of Tucker Johnston, this is the only film he ever directed. Which is sad, seeing as there is a lot of effort and solid ground work within this picture.

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Trust me, Blood Salvage is not without it’s faults. One of the biggest downfalls of this film is the pace. Running about 98 minutes, I would easily say a good 18 of that could be trimmed. If you see the movie, you’ll understand where I’m coming from. Another thing is, it seems they didn’t know if they were playing for horror or comedy. Something a lot of horror comedies of the era suffer from. There are a few laughs and some goofiness, here and there, but not enough to be labelled a comedy.

Another thing I have to mention, is that the movie was Executive Produced by boxing champion Evander Holyfield. The man, best known to the world as the person who got his ear bit off by Mike Tyson. Evander Holyfield also has a cameo, as a boxer, in a scene at the Peach Festival. I wonder what made him throw money into Blood Salvage? The script must have been impressive or he must have just been a fan. I guess neither.

Blood Salvage features some fine performances. John Saxon is on cue, as always. I would definitely suggest any fan of Saxon’s to check this out. Danny Nelson is also really fun in the role of Jake. It seems, at times, he is channelling the likes of Jim Siedow. Lori Birdsong is annoying in the beginning, which could be the character, but manages to pull through toward the end. Ray Walston also puts his best foot forward for such a throw-away picture in his filmography. Christian Hesler is great as Hiram. This is his only credit and he fell to an untimely death, before the film was ever released. Ralph Pruitt Vaughn is also good as Roy. He is the archetypal retarded hillbilly.

bobby

One thing the film could have used is a bit more splatter. For a movie, titled Blood Salvage, it lacks to deliver on the gore factor. The movie isn’t completely bloodless, it just could have used some more for my liking. Something I was impressed by is the stunt work. For a low-budget picture, the film delivers the action where it’s appropriate. This includes, a man on fire scene, a car chase and a car crash/explosion. The film also has a nice ending and the credits roll over The Pruitt family singing “Soul-Cleansing Blood of the Lamb!”

I do find it odd that this film has never had a wider release. With all the genre pieces that are being pushed out to Blu-ray right now, this seems the perfect slice for a Scream Factory special edition.

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Blood Salvage is no masterpiece, but that is kind of a given. It is not great and it is not for everyone. I suggest this for fans of late 80’s and early 90’s trash or to throw in for a Saturday night pizza party with friends.

 

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