Blood Salvage (1990)

AKA Mad Jake

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Jake Pruit and his two mentally challenged sons have a lucrative towing business: They run people off the road, imprison them and then sell their organs on the black market. Lately though, Jake has become obsessed with a wheelchair-bound beauty queen named April Evans. Jake is convinced he can ‘fix’ her. So when the mobility challenged beauty queen shows up at a local pageant, Jake puts his plan into motion, running her RV off the road and kidnapping the family. With April the only family member not in line for the chopping block, it now falls on her to try to get her family out of this situation. But with limited mobility, and three deranged rednecks and their pet alligator running around, that’s going to be easier said than done.

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Blood Salvage is an interesting combination of Misery and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, only less serious. Jake and his family are doing horrific things to the people they trap, but some of the situations and acting are so over the top that it negates some of the more terrifying situations. I wouldn’t out right call it a comedy, but there is enough intentional humor to make it not feel too heavy. 

The movie is also rife in the familiar hixploitation (is that what it’s called? I think that’s what it’s called) sub genre. At it’s heart, the plot can be boiled down to the street-smart city slicker versus the idiot rednecks. Except in this case, Jake’s not as dumb as all the bible thumping he starts the film off with might lead you to assume. You have to be at least a little smart to keep an underground, black market organ farm going for as long as he has, after all. And that’s not even going into the skill necessary to remove the organs of his victims [i][b]and[/b][/i] keep them alive, sans already removed organs, until he can find a use for what’s left of their fleshy bits. Yeah, Jake is no dummy.

Unfortunately for him though, neither is April.

blood_salvage_3Although she does start off by being very annoying.

The lack of credit the viewer might give Jake is pretty much equal to the lack of credit Jake gives April. April starts off by being a bit whiney and annoying. Perhaps understandable, since she just lost the local pageant at the beginning of the film. But she grows into her ‘final girl’ role quite admirably. Despite her lack of mobility, which the movie does not shy away from pointing out, she proves to be clever, resourceful and persistent. Very admirable traits when dealing with a bunch of psycho rednecks. She also gets points for being the only member in her family not suffering from ‘horror victim head trauma’. She is the lone voice of pessimism who immediately pegs the seemingly mild-mannered Jake as the lying crazy-pants he is. Thusly, she also ends up being the only one who refuses to willing go into his house, while everyone else is easily tricked into going inside. And even after she ends up all alone, she refuses to go down without a fight. It’s the film’s way of trying to show us that our heroine may be annoying, but she’s also full of spunk.

blood_salvage_4High powered, lead-filled spunk.

What the film is not full of, surprisingly, is blood. For a movie with Blood in the title, it is shocking lacking in the substance. Considering the nature of the film, we do see blood, guts and human parts, but it’s not nearly as much as one would expect. It does, however, make up for this with a fire, a car chase, an explosion and some very creepy imagery of Jake’s many half-living victims that he has strung up and tied down in the barn.

blood_salvage_5Okay, so not all of them are ‘half-living’.
blood_salvage_6Good news! Elvis is alive! Now for the bad news….

As for the performances, they were actually pretty damn good. There are some solid performances here. Danny Nelson, especially, is on point as Jake, flipping effortlessly between mild-mannered workman, to preacher, to creepy as all-hell. It was all much better than I expected, so I was pleasantly surprised. Even Evander Holyfield didn’t suck.

blood_salvage_7Though why he agreed to help finance the film is anyone’s guess.

So Blood Salvage actually turned out to be kinda fun. It’s a nice mix of campy, crazy and creepy, but it’s not funny enough for me to truly consider it a comedy. While it’s got some fun scenes and some surprisingly decent effects, it also suffers from some pacing issues and some character and religious cliches that sort of drag it down. But it’s still a fun B movie for those looking for something a little more off-beat.

Blood Salvage is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Sadly, it doesn’t look like Blood Salvage ever got a DVD or Bluray release, so those interested are going to either have to catch it on Amazon, watch it on Youtube or track down a VHS copy.

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Michi

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