This Blood Drive review contains spoilers.
Blood Drive Episode 4
Blood Drive episode 4, “In the Crimson Halls of Kane Hill” is a crazy episode that brings a different flavor to the series. It opens with the sweet sounds of sixties bubblegum music, The Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar,” as filtered through the lens of Ivan Bartos, who shot the music video for Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun.” It’s all summer fun until someone loses a tooth, and we’re not talking from decay.
According to the National Institutes of Health, and four out of five dentists, sugar is more addictive than heroin, and when you lace the two of them together in one treat, you’d kill for just one more taste. Gum disease infects the brain as Grace D’Argento (Christina Ochoa) and LAPD Officer Arthur Bailey (Alan Ritchson) take a detour into a whole ‘nother world in the series. One of the main reasons to watch Blood Drive is to see their directors-of-the-week’s takes on different styles and genres that made up the low-budget films that wound up in B-movie theaters. This week, director James Roday goes off the deep end with a particularly disgusting serving of nuthouse grindhouse.
From Snake Pit to Sucker Punch, cuckoo’s nests are wonderful institutions to mine for cinematic psycho horror, you don’t need twelve monkeys to figure that out. Even the sorority sisters of Scream Queens wound up bound up in sleeves that tied in the back for a season. At the Kane Hill “spa,” as Selina Meyer might call it on Veep, “Monster Mash” is on infinite replay because every day is Halloween. All the rooms are loaded with tricks, and the treats are better than Homer Simpson’s home made lithium. The candy of choice is Smax, which is a drug-spiked snack that makes you feel like a hunter on a hunt that never ends. The inmates swear it’s even better than the hottest drug on the streets, Red Rapture.
Don’t get the Blood Drive suits wrong, “Red Rapture is an addictive substance and might cause permanent physical and psychological damage. Midnight Grindhouse, universal cable productions and Syfy do not condone its use,” they warn before running a commercial with the disclaimer: “If you are pregnant or nursing you should never come within ten feet of any Smax Candy products. Eating Smax Candy may cause migraine headaches, night sweats, restless legs, zigleritis, schizophrenia, kemblepasia, racial intolerance, anal leakage (matalas disease), priapism, crow’s affliction, spontaneous human combustion, olmstead syndrome, brain liquefaction, the fung, and homicidal tendencies” so quickly under the screen it only registers subliminally. I include the small print here because forewarned is forearmed and to save viewers from having to pause it for themselves.
Heart Enterprises is already harvesting homeless people for blood. What could they possibly want with mental patients? Well, they make the best employees. Just look at Slink. He doesn’t let a little thing like who’s in his plan to take benefits into his own hands, indulging in a little DIY dentistry before the doctor in his IPO turns the drill on himself. Like an onion, Blood Drive peels off more and more layers of the race’s MC every week, and, like an onion, Colin Cunningham knows the most fragrant spices flavor the sauce.
Cunningham isn’t afraid of exposing the most hideous cavities he’s built up over his many years. And he isn’t the only one on a fast track to do the dirty work. Slink sends Rib Bone (Brandon Auret) and his newly liberated Chihuahua Caligula to wreak as much vengeance on the cop, Arthur, as he wants, so long as he saves Grace for later.
Grace shows a deeper side tonight. The side track trip is designed to break her sister, Karma (Alex McGregor), out of the mental institution. In a flashback we see how Grace came to be what she is, and the guilt she feels over where she put her sister. It all goes back to her rave days and the first sniff her innocent sister got off the sweet fumes of Red Rapture. Blood Drive doesn’t slow down for the tender moments, but Ochoa brings them out in a hurry. In turns tender and ruthless, with a heavy emphasis on reckless, she might be in the race for the money, but all bets are not off.
Arthur also loosens up considerably tonight. Caligula is the first to figure out that the inmates run the asylum and is quick to get them running. After Caligula puts out an APB on the earnest law enforcer, the only way to stay under cover is to go native. This is the first time we see Arthur without his uniform, you have to I wonder he kept it. Maybe I don’t want to know.
Not all of Heart Enterprises employees are as enthusiastic about bringing out the wince, but the milking of Christopher Carpenter (Thomas Dominique) shows that the LAPD undercover operative is a trouper for more than the state. We first meet him running naked through the fields in a would-be wet dream, and his morning glory gives the censors palpitations, though their blocking out of his genitals leaves less to the imagination than if we’d actually seen his schlong. Aki (Marama Corlett), who’s seen it, then puts him through some rather painful extractions, including the most extreme fisting scene ever shown in TV history.
This pair is quite a pair. Christopher endures all that the magnetic omnibot puts him through, when all she really needed is a tear. The cameras pull away at exactly the right moment for our imaginations to fill in blanks Blood Drive’s special effects department doesn’t have the heart, or budget, to inflict on us.
But for all the painful turn-away moments, the best gross-outs of the night have nothing to do gore and bodily wreckage. It is the set. I don’t know what is all over those walls in the asylum but it looks disgusting. Worse than open wounds and fleshy tears, decapitations or extracting specimens for duplication. Blood Drive’s sets are designed to bring out the worst cinema has had to offer and they outdo themselves tonight. The institution is a world in itself and the inmates know how to party. That’s quite a puppet show they throw.
“In the Crimson Halls of Kane Hill” was written by Nina Fiore, John Hererra and James Roland, and directed by James Roday.