“Pure Blood” is the very first South African horror movie to be financed in part by their government’s Department of Arts and Culture. Moreover this is Ken Kaplan’s directorial debut, and apparently good fortune awaited this talented newbie at almost every turn. The film was the winner of the Lucio Fulci Award at the Roma Fantafestival and the official selection of the Ft. Lauderdale Goteborg and Cork Film Festivals. Quite a feat; awards, appraisal and bureaucratic approval.

The film is about the creation of an army of undead humans who, under the leadership of a once celebrated yet power mad general, set about a scheme to rule the world. That in and of itself is easy enough to swallow, but apparently there were way too many “cooks in the kitchen” during the writing process and the storyline gets completely out of control. The convoluted plot line not only involves a resurrected father (the general) but also the passing of his blood to his son Fanus, the death and resurrection of Fanus’ Mother, poison-blood soaked cakes and conspiracy to commit acts of murder using those cakes. It’s all very interesting, but nearly impossible to decipher.

Want more confusion? The director claims that these are an army of zombies and yet some of the cast and crew refer to these soulless creatures as vampires. Now, these zombie/vampires do live exclusively on the blood of others, but they don’t possess the obligatory fanged-chompers and prefer to get their nourishment through a syringe. Not only that, our resident monsters are very sensitive to light and insist on wearing sunglasses day and night. Personally, I’ve never known of a zombie that had the wherewithal to assemble the proper “works,” tie off an arm, find a vein and then guide a needle methodically into the proper vessel. Not even Bub from Romero’s “Day of the Dead” was that aware. Furthermore, traditional zombies don’t give a damn about sunlight one way or the other.

The film is wacky, well directed, edited and acted with only the plot’s radical twists and turns to drag it down. Nevertheless “Pure Blood” rolls competently along with inventive visuals coupled with witty dark humor and director Kaplan’s fantastic eye for the absurd.

Tromaville outdid themselves this time around on the features which include: Behind the scenes documentaries, interviews with the cast and crew, theatrical trailers and the presentation of the film in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio (a real rarity for Troma.)

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